The beauty of the six-word memoir

How short can you tell it? Your life in just six words

Some find them ridiculous but I call them beautiful. They are six-word memoirs. Six-word memoirs? Yes – pithy little verbal packages that convey more than you might imagine.

It all started with Ernest Hemingway who proved to a friend that he could write a "novel" in six words: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." Then Smith Magazine picked up on the concept a couple of years ago and published "Not Quite What I Was Planning" – a collection of mini-memoirs, some by celebrities, the others by the rest of us, but none over six words.

These include little gems like: "Grading AP essays, I crave Tolstoy" and "Couldn't cope, so I wrote songs" (Aimee Mann).

Yesterday EW started soliciting a new crop from readers. Among them: "Love my cake, eat it too." "So NOT turning into my mother." "I wander, but am not lost."

Try one. You might be surprised by what you produce.

My own? Typical perhaps, of a book editor. "Read much. Learned late to live."

Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor’s book editor. You can follow her on Twitter at

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