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

( 22 )

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, ...

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

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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.

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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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061374050
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/5/2008
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 139,636
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Larry Smith

SMITH Magazine founding editor Larry Smith has worked as an editor at Men's Journal, ESPN: The Magazine, and Might. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Popular Science, on Salon.com, and many other places. Larry lives in New York City

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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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.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 22 )
Rating Distribution

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(16)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2008

    Very interesting

    Got the book, read it, laughed!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2013

    Heres my 6 word memior.....

    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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Life summary in a sentence!

    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!

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  • Posted March 24, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A fun quick read

    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.

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  • Posted May 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Incredible.

    At times, depressing, others touching and completely inspiring. If you liked this, you'd LOVE Post Secret too.

    :)

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  • Posted April 28, 2009

    not quite what i was expecting when I bought the book online

    thats all

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 24, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    You will not be disappointed in this book!

    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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I'm trying to boil it down.....

    ...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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2008

    Little slices of humanity

    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!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted October 11, 2009

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    Posted March 25, 2009

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    Posted May 18, 2014

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    Posted January 11, 2009

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    Posted March 21, 2009

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    Posted October 26, 2008

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