Today’s find from out of the stacks is a little book called Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. The book is a project of SMITH Magazine, an online publication and community for storytellers of all stripes. Among other story projects, in 2006 SMITH launched the six-word memoir project to great popularity on the web. Inspired by the legend of Ernest Hemingway’s own six word short story allegedly written in a bar bet (“For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.”), the magazine launched its project and watched it spread like virtual wildfire across the internet. Not Quite What I Was Planning collects a wide assortment of the submissions from amateur and professional writers alike. Some of the notable brief memoirists include Chuck Klosterman, Ornette Coleman, Harvey Pekar, Amy Sedaris, Tracey Morgan, Curtis Sittenfeld, Jonathan Lethem, Aimee Mann, Stephen Colbert, Daniel Handler, and David Rakoff among many others. The sheer range of voices on display here is a wonderful thing. It’s like walking down the street and reading the story of a life in each face you pass. You’ll be amazed at the power six little words can have over your emotions. From laughter to sadness to wincing recognition, there are as many ways to respond to these stories as there are stories themselves. The only thing these pieces have in common aside from their brevity is the honesty at the core of each. Think of them as literature for the Twitter Age. Enjoy a sampling below, and if you’re feeling inspired, be sure to drop us a comment with your own six-word memoir.
Taking a lifetime to grow up.
Nothing profound, I just sat around.
Can’t tonight, watching Law & Order.
Thought I would have more impact.
Graduated May. 21 June. Married July.
Hiding in apartment knitting against depression.
It was embarrassing, so don’t ask.
Discovered moral code via Judy Blume.
In a Manolo world, I’m Keds.
One tooth, one cavity. Life’s cruel.
Would you like fries with that?
Little bit Lucy, tempered by Ethel.
Became my mother. Please shoot me.
God, grant me patience. Right now.
Accidents cause people-son is wonderful.
Age eleven: became a middle child.
Loved home. Left to make sure.