Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure
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Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure

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by Larry Smith, Rachel Fershleiser
     
 

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Deceptively simple and surprisingly addictive, Not Quite What I Was Planning is a thousand glimpses of humanity—six words at a time.

One Life. Six Words. What's Yours?

When Hemingway famously wrote, "For Sale: baby shoes, never worn," he proved that an entire story can be told using a half dozen words. When the online storytelling magazine

Overview

Deceptively simple and surprisingly addictive, Not Quite What I Was Planning is a thousand glimpses of humanity—six words at a time.

One Life. Six Words. What's Yours?

When Hemingway famously wrote, "For Sale: baby shoes, never worn," he proved that an entire story can be told using a half dozen words. When the online storytelling magazine SMITH asked readers to submit six-word memoirs, they proved a whole, real life can be told this way too. The results are fascinating, hilarious, shocking, and moving.

From small sagas of bittersweet romance ("Found true love, married someone else") to proud achievements and stinging regrets ("After Harvard, had baby with crackhead"), these terse true tales relate the diversity of human experience in tasty bite-sized pieces. From authors Jonathan Lethem and Richard Ford to comedians Stephen Colbert and Amy Sedaris, to ordinary folks around the world, everyone has a six-word story to tell.

Editorial Reviews

Blackbook
“These tiny windows into people’s lives are at once addictive and illuminating, challenging and accessible.”
O magazine
“The pithiest of life stories.”
Denver Post
“A perfect distraction and inspiration, and a collection that begs to be shared.”
Chicago Tribune
“Irresistibly clever.”
Style.com
“In six words: Gimmicks should always be this fun.”
Daily Telegraph (London)
“A fabulously appealing exercise both for writers and for readers.”
Toronto Star
“Smith seems to have struck a chord in the current zeitgeist, unleashing 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.”
Philadelphia Magazine
“Six-word review: Buy it, keep it in bathroom.”
New York Post
“The brilliance is in the brevity.”
The New Yorker
“You could spend a lifetime brainstorming.”
Vanity Fair
“Perfect for the American attention span...Will thrill minimalists and inspire maximalists.”
O Magazine
"The pithiest of life stories."
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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061374050
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
02/05/2008
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
183,124
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.10(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt

Not Quite What I Was Planning, Revised and Expanded Deluxe Edition
Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure

Chapter One

After Harvard, had baby with crackhead.
—Robin Templeton

Seventy years, few tears, hairy ears.
—Bill Querengesser

Watching quietly from every door frame.
—Nicole Resseguie

Catholic school backfired. Sin is in!
—Nikki Beland

Savior complex makes for many disappointments.
—Alanna Schubach

Nobody cared, then they did. Why?
—Chuck Klosterman

Some cross-eyed kid, forgotten then found.
—Diana Welch

She said she was negative. Damn.
—Ryan McRae

Born in the desert, still thirsty.
—Georgene Nunn

A sake mom, not soccer mom.
—Shawna Hausman

I asked. They answered. I wrote.
—Sebastian Junger

No future, no past. Not lost.
—Matt Brensilver

Extremely responsible, secretly longed for spontaneity.
—Sabra Jennings

Joined Army. Came out. Got booted.
—Johan Baumeister

Not Quite What I Was Planning, Revised and Expanded Deluxe Edition
Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure
. Copyright © by Larry Smith. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

LARRY SMITH is an adjunct associate professor of economics at the University of Waterloo and a recipient of the University of Waterloo’s Distinguished Teacher Award. During his longstanding tenure, Smith has taught and counselled more than 23,000 students on the subject of their careers, representing more than 10 percent of UW’s alumni. Smith has worked with more than 500 teams of student entrepreneurs, advising them as they have created companies of significant size and success across industries as broad-reaching as communications, software, robotics, entertainment, design and real estate. Smith is also president of Essential Economics Corporation, an economic consulting practice that serves a wide range of public and private clients. “Why You Will Fail to have a Great Career,” his TEDx Talk based on his experience counselling students, has been viewed by over six million people.

Rachel Fershleiser is SMITH's memoir editor and has written for the Village Voice, the New York Press, Print, and the National Post. Rachel lives in New York City.

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Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
JNF0616_reader More than 1 year ago
This book is very cool. It's funny, inspiring, and poignant. I recommend this book absolutely.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My life started with her cry....... which is talking about when my sister was born and i heard her crying through the phone on her first day.
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AmyTranchida-writer More than 1 year ago
Not Quite What I Was Planning is a Smith Magazine compilation of six word memoirs. The book idea was inspired by the supposed six word story challenge that Ernest Hemingway once mastered with: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn" (v). I discovered this book while browsing online at Barnes & Noble. I was armed with a gift card and hungry for something fun amidst all of my other graduate reading. Swayed by the title alone, I snapped it up. As I read the one thousand six word memoirs, they gave me a shot in the arm. I was struck by their imagery, poignancy, humor, and tragedy, and amazed at the power of six words to convey text, subtext, and back-story-like haiku, they have an uncanny depth and clarity about them. I wanted to apply that energy to my own work. When I read: "Afraid of becoming like my mother" (44), or "Brought it to a boil, often" (48), or "Revenge is living well, without you" (128), or "Things happen because I see holes" (155), or "The freaks, they always find me" (158), or "Saw the sky and started walking" (187), and "New Yorker: everything pisses me off" (219)-I immediately felt pulled to know more. What is not mentioned is stronger than what is. One after another, these memoirs amuse, enlighten, and entertain. Reading the collection as a whole had a slash and burn effect on me as a writer-I was left thinking: if I cut everything extraneous away and boiled my life down to its essence, what would be the essential kernel? With only six words to capture the whole, it was staggering to think of how many explanations and transitions would have to be left out. As I revised my thesis, this collection helped me to focus on the bones beneath my work. How could I create a skeletal suggestion that the reader would then use to fill in with subtext? I also had to ask myself: what's holding up all that exposition that I'm trimming? What is at the center? What am I trying to say? Not only was this book a very entertaining read, it also gave me succinctness. I now ask myself: if I were only allowed six words to tell my story, what would they be? I use this tool repeatedly as I write. It helps me get the arrow of my intentions closer to its mark. And incidentally, my current six word memoir would read: "Echo-locating self amidst high adventure." I highly recommend this collection! Go ahead, treat yourself!
Debra-Fl More than 1 year ago
I love this book and plan to buy the sequel. These six word memoirs are short yet profound. You will run through many emotions and you have a peek into the lives of others: happy, sad, shock, horror. I used this book as a springboard to have my elementary school students do a six word statement about themselves. The results were amazing. What a great tweet a six word statement would be. I am fascinated by the concept as each day/month/year our six word life snapshot will be different. I would love to see people trying to put in six words their life at this moment and then continue to do it through the many other moments in their life. For non-writers...what a great way to get your life on paper!
Lawral More than 1 year ago
This is a great collection of six-word memoirs from an awesome array of people. Celebrities whose memoirs appear include Aimee Mann, Amy Sedaris, Mitali Perkins and more, but the really great memoirs come from us everyday folk. "Can't read all the time. Bummer." (140) "I love my lady ... and bacon." (127) "I'm ten, and have an attitude." (83) And the story of my life, written in six words by someone else: "I wrote it all down somewhere." (43) 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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Ashley- More than 1 year ago
At times, depressing, others touching and completely inspiring. If you liked this, you'd LOVE Post Secret too. :)
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readinsteadofwatchtv More than 1 year ago
I love this book and have given it to many people as gifts! It was very touching to read the 6-word memoirs of famous as well as not-so-famous people. Some are sad, some are funny and entertaining, some are very poignant. It has inspired my friends and me to write several of our own memoirs and share them together. We all agreed that we'd find ourselves thinking of words to describe our lives (or at least parts of life) and silently counting on our fingers to see if we had exactly six words. The book really helped us to know and understand ourselves and each other in new ways and was lots of fun. I highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MarmaladeRiver More than 1 year ago
...to just 6 words! This is fun. Great for reading in the john, conversation starters, a great party game. I gave a copy for Christmas, and if I can't borrow it back, I'll buy another copy for myself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Got the book, read it, laughed!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Just bought a copy and I love it! Full of amazing 6-word stories from hundreds of people, most I didn't know, but lots of interesting celebrities too! Stephen Colbert's was funny, Joan Rivers too. How did they get all these great people in their book? Who cares, when we get to enjoy the fruits of their labors. Hurray!
trishmc More than 1 year ago
thats all