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It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure Paperback – January 5, 2010
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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“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)
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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The book is listed as 274 pages, but many of the pages have only 1 or 2 six-word stories, so it won't take you long at all to read the entire book - probably less than one hour. Some of the stories are accompanied by photos or sketches. The final chapter of the book lists the bios of some of the included authors. Some of the stories were mundane, some humorous, some witty, and some sad. We can all write differing six-word stories based on where we are in our lives.
Some of my favorites:
- Retired. one errand takes all day.
- Viewed life from behind a camera.
- Book then. Books Now. Occasionally Life.
- Dealt bad cards. Played them well.
You won't learn a lot from this book, but it may pique your interest, as it did for me, in writing more six-word stories. I'm writing one in my daily journal now to summarize that day.
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: Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: by Writers Famous and Obscure and I Can't Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure. Do take the break first, though. The format wears a little after a while.
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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Life is a highway, need a detour