We recently added a T-shirt printing function to the Six-Word Memoir website. When I got to make one myself (and what snazzy little numbers they are!) I realized I wasn't dying to walk around Manhattan with "I finally threw away his toothbrush" emblazoned on my bosom. So I scrapped my own ode to empowerment, healing, and disposing of mildewed plastic, in favor of Vittorio Giannini's "I wrote a book about this."
I find the whole thing hilariously meta, since the line is a six-word memoir and I made a book of... well, you get it. But in fact, I didn't really write the book — hundreds of you did. And many of our contributors, on all parts of the famous and obscure spectrum, have written books of their own. I can't possibly list them all, but in the grand tradition of "If you like Giorgio, you'll love Primo," here are some books you can check out for words 7, 8, 9, 10, etc...
First the big wigs: Daniel Handler's "Our song: Pat Benetar's 'We Belong'" could entice you towards Adverbs, a quirky exploration of love, or A Series of Unfortunate Events, which is, of course, a litany of heartbreak. Elizabeth Gilbert's "My life's accomplishments? Sanity, and you" is expanded nicely in Eat, Pray, Love, so if you're the one that hasn't read it, you might want to get on that. Armistead Maupin's "He still needs me at 64" is a sweet Beatles-inflected counterpoint to some of the saltier adventures in his famed Tales of the City books.
Some six-word memoirs are directly related to the rest of a writers' work. V. V. Ganeshananthan's "My book title makes dating awkward" is all the more charming when you check out her debut novel Love Marriage. Want to know where Stephanie Losee picked up the subject of "He's less tall but more sane"? She co-wrote Office Mate: The Employee Handbook for Finding - And Managing - Romance on the Job, didn't she? And Laura Fraser's popular book An Italian Affair might have something to do with "He lied, cheated, left; bestselling memoir."
On the other hand, Martha Garvey wrote My Fat Dog and My Fat Cat, cute, helpful books for pet-lovers, as well as revealing the powerful six words, "Teen homewrecker. Still miss his kid." Sex columnist Dan Savage wrote "Job requires me to contemplate cunnilingus," which we need to avoid reading on the radio, while two of his books are The Kid and The Commitment, all about marriage and parenthood.
Overall, our contributors represent a pretty diverse group. Lanford Wilson ("Bastard turned out to be straight") is a prolific playwright; Marya Hornbacher ("He punched my car. The End") writes honest memoirs about mental illness; Rebecca Woolf ("He had nothing. Gave me everything") wrote Rockabye about unplanned pregnancy and Jennifer 8. Lee ("Found myself a nerdy computer programmer") wrote The Fortune Cookie Chronicles about Chinese food.
I've always vowed to love my contributors equally, but as one of them prickly feminists, I look cynically on Neil Strauss's "How can I build trust again?" He is, after all, the author of The Game, a pick up bible suggesting that putting women down will make us drop our panties. As we approach Valentine's Day, that inane but indelible celebration of romance, I'll leave my response to six-word memoirist Judy "He cheated and then he died" McGuire. She wrote a book called How Not to Date.
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SMITH magazine founding editor Larry Smith ("Now I obsessively count the words") has worked as an editor at Men's Journal, ESPN 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 ("Morning: national television. Afternoon: bookstore bathrooms") 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.
Books mentioned in this post
Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser is the author of It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure