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Listen to Alison and guest host Toure discuss six-word memoirs

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What's Your Six-Word Memoir?

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What's Your Six-Word Memoir?

Listen to Alison and guest host Toure discuss six-word memoirs

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/18329631/18328901" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

There's a new book coming out that caught our attention, called Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs By Famous and Obscure Writers. It's from the editors of Smith Magazine, and it's exactly what it says it is — a collection of memoirs, each just six words long.

The idea stems from a literary legend. We don't know if it's true, but as the story goes, Ernest Hemingway was once asked to write a story in six words. His response: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." That's at least as good as The Old Man and the Sea.

The editors of Smith challenged writers to craft their own six-word memoirs, and got some interesting results. Most of them sound kinda like crosses between a personal ad and a haiku...

"Shy Jersey kid, overcompensating ever since." —Ariel Kaminer

"Being a monk stunk. Better gay." —Bob Redman

"Couldn't cope so I wrote songs." —Aimee Mann

Some of them are funny, others are pretty poignant. There's one that says, "Was father. Boys died. Still sad." That's from Ronald Zalewski.

The BPP crew is going to post our six-word memoirs, and we want to hear yours. Sum up your life in six words — no more, no less. For best results, don't overthink it. And remember, it's supposed to be a memoir, not a fortune cookie.

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