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It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure Paperback – January 5, 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Will thrill minimalists and inspire maximalists.” (Vanity Fair)

“The brilliance is in the brevity.” (New York Post)

“A perfect distraction and inspiration.” (Denver Post)

“Irresistibly clever.” (Chicago Tribune)

“American haiku.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

“You could spend a lifetime brainstorming.” (The New Yorker)

“The pithiest of life stories.” (O, The Oprah Magazine)

“Makes 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.” (Publishers Weekly)

“A torrent of self-expression not unlike the one launched by Frank Warren when he began inviting people to write their secrets on the back of postcards.” (Toronto Star)

“The petite self-portraits encompass love and love, joy and sorrow-everything you’d expect from a longer book.” (ReadyMade Magazine)

“A fabulously appealing exercise both for writers and for readers.” (Telegraph)

“A good number conjure up both a story line and a worldview. Six-word review: Buy it, keep it in bathroom.” (Philadelphia Magazine)

“I fell so in love with it.” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

“Six words. Personal stories. Infinite possibilities. These ADD autobiographies prove that brevity can be the soul not simply of wit.” (VSL.com)

“Dude’s weird premise yields interesting stories.” (Ira Glass, NPR's This American Life)

“Six-word memoirs leave book lover speechless.” (Rocky Mountain News)

From the Back Cover

Thousands of people around the world responded to SMITH Magazine's call for six-word memoirs. Following up on the smashing success of the New York Times bestseller Not Quite What I Was Planning, here are more memoirs from Sarah Silverman, Junot Diaz, Neil Patrick Harris, Suze Orman, Gay Talese, Tony Hawk, Amy Tan—and hundreds of never-before-published writers.

Funny and bittersweet, witty and wild, or downright tragic, these addictive life stories are both monumental and miniscule. Six-word memoirs have become a globalphenomenon, offering anyone and everyone a telling peek at humanity and a chance to find the writer within.

"Father: ‘Anything but journalism.' I rebelled." —Malcolm Gladwell

"Live man's life in woman's body!" —Diane von Furstenberg

"Met wife at her bachelorette party." —Eddie Matz

"The miserable childhood leads to royalties." —Frank McCourt

"I never checked my lottery ticket." —Casey Burra

"Shiny head. Hippie hair. Shiny head." —Wally Lamb

"Bipolar, no two ways about it." —Jason Owen

"So would you believe me anyway?" —James Frey

"Can't look at heart donor's picture." —Tonia Hall

"Healed with steel, then got real." —Dr. Mehmet Oz

"I still practice my Oscar speech." —Jennifer Labbienti

"I've done it all except hear." —Marlee Matlin

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (January 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061719439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061719431
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #243,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Sorel VINE VOICE on May 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
Legend has it, Ernest Hemingway was sitting in a bar (predictable!) when a fan of his approached him and commented on how well he can tell a story in only a few words. He then challenged Hemingway to tell a story in the fewest amount of words possible. Hemingway shot back with "For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn". Whether this story is true or just once of those great Hemingway myths, it is clear that a full story can be told in only 6 words. SMITH Magazine decided to use this as a premise for a project in which they asked their readers to write their autobiography/memoir in only 6 words. Only expecting a hundred or so responses, the editor of SMITH Magazine was astounding when hundreds of thousands of people wrote in. Among these entries were some famous people such as Stephen Colbert, Alison Bechdel, Yogi Berra's granddaughter and others. These responses were then published in four different books two of which are just overall collections of the 6 word memoirs, one directed towards teens, and one specifically on love and heartbreak.

The entries are almost all different and range from the funny to the poignant. I laughed out loud when I read "failed at love, won at scrabble" and was incredibly moved by a memoir about a woman who was raped and was unable to move on making her feel as if her life was useless. I smiled at the sentence "awkward girl takes chances. Fun ensures" and even wished that I had written it! Interspersed with text memoirs are graphic memoirs which brings an interesting aspect to the book.

I know that some have not given this book the best of reviews, but I would really encourage those people to re-read the book and think a little while on each entry because many have great depth. Personally, I loved it!
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Format: Paperback
I can't believe it's finally out!

After obsessively looking at six word memoirs online these editors have gleaned the best of the best. There's so much diversity in thought and storytelling in a hyper-limited platform.

Whenever I tell people about the book they usually say that they're really into the idea or they've already got one or gets them religiously for friends in hospitals or are at a turning point in their life.

At first I thought the idea was a too precious, but there's so much depth and humor in these books--- I became addicted and started writing ones of my own.

I think this book is a must have for writers. It inspires and is a great exercise.
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Although this one isn't quite as bad as the teen edition ("I Can't Keep My Own Secrets"), it's still pretty bad.
Fortunately, it's a quick read, and the design of the book is good.
A "memoir" is normally considered to be a remembrance that's communicated to others because it's interesting.
However, the contents of this volume is better described as a terse litany of regrets, or compact versions of the worst thing that ever happened to a person. Some are actually quite disturbing, made even more so by the lack of context (other than a few pages of notes at the end of the book concerning a few select entries).
Many of the "memoirs" are written in third person -- not first -- making them seem more about other people than about the author. In fact, rather than "six word memoirs", most of the contributions could more accurately be characterized as "six word confessions", "six word advice", "six word mottoes", or "six word epitaphs".
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Format: Paperback
What the authors of the Six-Word Movement have done is create a new poetic form. It's a universe, a story in six words, the briefest of prose poems. Their latest book incorporates all the whimsy and intelligence of their other books and I recommend It All Changed in an Instant--to everyone!
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It seems impossible to capture a life in six words. The challenge Smith Magazine put out was to do that. Their book, "It All Changed in an Instant," is one of many books with six-word memoirs. There are funny ones, lists of oddities, ironies, and things to break your heart. All is six words. Give this to that person who tells you "no time to read."
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This is the possibly-anticipated follow-up to Rachel Fershleiser and Larry Smith’s Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. The basic idea is the same—the authors asked a number of people, some of them famous authors, to summarize their lives in exactly six words. This form of flash nonfiction may not catch on as much as the authors hope, but it’s good for a quick and quirky read. Finally, a bathroom book that really can be read in one sitting, so to speak.

Ten of the better bios in their entirety:

- My rise to fame went unnoticed. –Steven Newman
- Bachelor party. YouTube video. Wedding cancelled. –Daniel Little
- First comes love, then comes stalking. –Jeff Metcho
- I turned eleven. No Hogwarts letter. –Laura Murray
- The miserable childhood leads to royalties. –Frank McCourt
- I found my mother’s suicide note. –Anne Heausler
- So I only get six words? --Lalah Hathaway
- There will be no white flag. –Kamila Ema
- Could be poop, could be chocolate. –Erin Kennedy
- “Live long and prosper” says it. –Leonard Nimoy

The end of the book includes selected longer author bios and explanations of some of the six-word summaries. Read this if you like to have jokes that weren’t funny explained to you. If you enjoyed these you should take a break to clear your head and then look at volume one or one of the authors’ other two books:
...Read more ›
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