Once upon a time, Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write a story in six words. What did he come up with?
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
Awesome, right? This Hemingway legend is the basis for the book Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. Editors at SMITH magazine, an online storytelling community, collected more than 15,000 six-word memoirs, some from famous people, most from average people, and put about 800 of them together in this book.
I liked this book a lot, particularly the concept and quirkiness of the project. I love idea of everyone getting a chance to tell their story, even if it’s only in six words. There’s something equalizing about it — we may not all be famous authors, but we all have the right to tell our story.
In any case, I think anyone could pick up this book and enjoy reading it. Each memoir makes you think a little bit, which seems astonishing since each one is only six words long. My favorite memoirs were the ones where I actually had to stop and see if they were only six words because they seemed to say so much more than that.
The other fun part of the book was finding a memoir from a famous author. There was one by Dave Eggers, another by Joyce Carol Oates, and another by Morgan Spurlock (the guy that did Supersize Me), just to name a few. Below, I put just a few of my favorites for you to see. However, you should really check this book out from the library to read the rest, it’s cool.
- Was father, boys died. Still sad. — Ronald Zalewski
- Just in: boyfriend’s gay. Merry Christmas. — Seshie Hargett
- Fifteen years since last professional haircut. — Dave Eggers
- Factchecker by day. Liar by night. — Andy Young
- Tequila made her clothes come off. — Susanne Broderick
- Carnivore and herbivore birth magical omnivore. — Morgan Spurlock
- Surname rhymes with profanity. Childhood torture. — Noah Smit
- I write because I can’t sleep. — Ben Mezrich
- Revenge is living well without you. — Joyce Carol Oates
I tried to write my own six word memoir, but so far I’m not very happy with it. Do you think you could write a six word memoir? What would it be?
If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!