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Not Quite What I Was Planning, Revised and Expanded Deluxe Edition: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure Hardcover – October 21, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 243 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (October 21, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061713716
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061713712
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 5.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #401,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Can you describe your life in six words? That's what the editors of storytelling magazine SMITH asked readers in 2006; the results, though decidedly uneven, make for compulsive reading and prove arguably as insightful as any 300+ page biography. Taken as a whole, this cascade of quotes from contributors famous and unknown creates a dizzying snowball effect of perspectives and feelings. Highlights from professional writers and artists include journalist Chuck Klosterman wondering, "Nobody cared, then they did. Why?"; pop singer-songwriter Adam Schlesinger lamenting, "We still don't hear a single"; and comic strip artist Keith Knight illustrating "I was a Michael Jackson impersonator." At their best, these nano-memoirs evoke the same kind of rich emotional responses as a good story: 9 year old Hannah Davies considers herself "Cursed with cancer. Blessed by friends"; Zak Nelson says "I still make coffee for two"; Scott Birch claims "Most successful accomplishments based on spite." Some entries read like bumper stickers (Rip Riley: "No wife. No kids. No problems"), and others are just plain weird (Amy Sedaris: "Mushrooms. Clowns. Wands. Five. Wig. Thatched"), but this compelling little book will have readers and their friends hunting for favorites and inventing six-word self-definitions of their own. This review in six words? Read. Enjoy. Pass it on. Repeat.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School—The editors of SMITH magazine invited readers to contribute brief life stories in the vein of Hemingway's bravura tale, "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." The hundreds selected for publication include offerings from children and adults, professional writers, bereaved parents, recovering broken hearts, and people with great pride in showing off their wit. Teens will recognize some of the "memoirists," including Janet Tashjian, author of The Gospel According to Larry (Holt, 2001), Ned Vizzini of It's Kind of a Funny Story (Hyperion/Miramax, 2006), and Deepak Chopra. The six words by the latter are followed by a handsome pun penned by his son: "Soul'd out so I could prophet." Some entries include cartoons, self-portraits taken with a camera, or other artwork. The index allows access by topic, some of which are adoption (two entries), coffee (five entries), and love (28 entries). A good combination of inspired, inspiring, and entertaining, this title is eminently browsable and shareable. It's a fine book to offer reluctant readers as well as teens who are interested in creative writing.—Francisca Goldsmith, Halifax Public Libraries, Nova Scotia
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

It's very entertaining and fun to read.
S. Towe
This is a quick read that will make you both laugh and think and will leave you with a very dog-eared book of lines to go back to later.
Lawral Wornek
From clever and funny to poignant and sad, the breadth of the memoirs in this book is astounding.
Joseph Ippolito

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Linda Bulger VINE VOICE on May 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
In November 2006, Smith Magazine challenged readers to write their memoirs in six words--no more, no less. One thousand of the submissions are printed here, with more to be found on their website. Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure is not an easy book to review, so don't think of this as an actual review; think of it a challenge. Here is a sampling of six-word memoirs from the book to provide inspiration.

Some writers tell their stories with humor and self-deprecation:

>> Woman Seeks Men--High Pain Threshold.
>> My first concert: Zappa. Explains everything.
>> Aging late bloomer yearns for do-over.

As you would expect, there are many bitter or bittersweet references to relationships gone bad:

>> Girlfriend is pregnant, my husband said.
>> Just in: boyfriend's gay. Merry Christmas.
>> Let's just be friends, she said.

Some lucky people sent memoirs that radiate contentment.

>> Alone at home, cat on lap.
>> Hope my obituary spells "debonair" correctly.
>> Wasn't born a redhead; fixed that.

There is the contingent who describe themselves without judgment:

>> Gave commencement address, became sex columnist.
>> Mormon economist marries feminist. Worlds collide.
>> Still lost on road less traveled.

And last but not least, the philosophers who distill life experience into a greater truth:

>> Palindromic novels fall apart halfway through.
>> Cheese is the essence of life.
>> Wandering imagination opens doors to paradise.

We're all busy people, each with a story to tell. C'mon, what's yours?

Linda Bulger, 2008
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Ippolito on February 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
In short, I love this book.

I'd have never imagined you could get so much out of six words. I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

From clever and funny to poignant and sad, the breadth of the memoirs in this book is astounding. They truly make every word count. I should warn you, though: It's addictive. Countless times, I found myself sitting down, intending to read merely a few, only to find myself completely engrossed.

This is one of those books I think everyone should own. Whether you're on the bus in the morning or reading before bed, it provides the perfect break from the day.

It's a wonderful sampling of both established and up-and-coming talent. "Not Quite What I Was Planning" is chock-full of writers you love, writers you've never heard of, and--if six words can be considered a hint of things to come--writers you're soon going to be hearing much, much more about.

My six word review? "Buy this book. Seriously, do it."
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Susan Henderson on February 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
Highly addictive. Hard not to read selections out loud to people sitting near you. Equally hard not to think of ways to condense your own life into six words. A bit of an emotional roller coaster, but in the best way.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By David Wheatley on February 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
As an obscure author of one of the entries I was sent a copy - and what fun it was to read through the thought-provoking, humorous, challenging, emotional, and flippant memoirs that were selected
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Obscure Six Word Author on February 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
These six word memoirs are so fun to browse. It is truly amazing what people can convey in just six words. People have chosen to give a life summary, to explain their philosophies on life or to tell a short story. I have now looked through the book 4 times (looking for my own six words) and come across something new each time. I still haven't found my own though . . .
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By B. Linas on February 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
Not only fun and funny but insightful and deep. It cheers you up if you feel blue and makes you laugh when you least expect it! This book will find you making 6 word memoirs for your life everyday. More than a coffee table book, a must read!
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Myfanwy Collins on February 8, 2008
Format: Paperback
I read this book from cover to cover in one sitting, often stopping to read bits aloud to my husband. Filled with often funny, sometimes heartbreaking six word memoirs, this book will please just about anyone on your gift list.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amy Friedman on February 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is authentic, hilarious, deep and delightful. Kudos to the authors for a genuinely unique idea in world of also-rans! I plan to buy 10 copies and bring them as housegifts wherever I go. Warning: thinking in 6 word memoirs is addictive.
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