Not Quite What I Was Planning

Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure

By Larry Smith; Rachel Fershleiser
(Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780061374050, 240pp.)

Publication Date: February 2008

Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover

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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.

About the Author

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, and many other places. Larry lives in New York City

Praise For Not Quite What I Was Planning

“Perfect for the American attention span...Will thrill minimalists and inspire maximalists.”
-Vanity Fair

“Irresistibly clever.”
-Chicago Tribune

“The brilliance is in the brevity.”
-New York Post

“You could spend a lifetime brainstorming.”
-The New Yorker

“In six words: Gimmicks should always be this fun.”

“Compulsive insightful as any 300+ page biography.”
-Publishers Weekly

“A perfect distraction and inspiration, and a collection that begs to be shared.”
-Denver Post

“The pithiest of life stories.”
-O magazine

“A fabulously appealing exercise both for writers and for readers.”
-Daily Telegraph (London)

“Six-word review: Buy it, keep it in bathroom.”
-Philadelphia Magazine

“These tiny windows into people’s lives are at once addictive and illuminating, challenging and accessible.”

“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.”
-Toronto Star

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