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

Rachel Fershleiser, Editor, Larry Smith, Editor Harper Perennial $12 (225p) ISBN 978-0-06-137405-0
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.
Reviewed on: 02/04/2008
Release date: 02/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 978-0-06-147099-8
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