Book Review: It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Authors Famous &Obscure (SMITH Magazine)

February 19, 2010

So Harper Collins sent me a free uncorrected proof/advance-copy-that-wasn’t-an-advance-copy-because-this-book-came-out-in-January a few weeks ago, and I read it, and now I’m reviewing it because I can only assume that that’s what they wanted. A hearty thank-you to you, Harper Collins; I’m a big fan of the six-word memoir books. I have no idea why you sent me this, since it’s doubtful that you mistook me for a high-profile book reviewer. But thanks.

But anyway, the book. It’s fantastic. I bought myself a copy of the first one, Not Quite What I Was Planning, after hearing about it online, and loved it, then took it around and showed it to everyone I knew, then took it around again and annoyed them all with how much I loved it. But the first time they loved it, too.

The premise of the books is obviously to write your own life story in just six words (see more here), a practice inspired by a famous legend about Ernest Hemingway. He was challenged, it’s said, to write a novel in six words. His response? “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Also according to the legend, he once called it his best work. It certainly hit me harder than The Old Man and the Sea.

The best thing about these books, though (there are currently four of them out) is that the writers actually are “famous & obscure.” In It All Changed in an Instant, you’ll see memoirs attributed to Somebodies likeĀ  Michael Moore and Isabel Allende right next to ones by people you’ve never heard of. Even better than the best part, these people-you-have-never-heard-of write the best ones! Anyone, literally anyone, can submit a memoir to SMITH for consideration. I myself have done a few. Just head on over to the link I supplied above and give it a go. As The New Yorker said in their six-word review, “You could spend a lifetime brainstorming.” Five stars.

P.S.- it is my advice to take these a few at a time for best effect. After a while, as with all little-this-and-that books, they tend to blend together if you read too many. And seriously, take your copy around and share it. People will love you more.

EDIT: Mystery solved. LibraryThing sent it as a part of the early reviewer program that I signed up for. I was merely confused because right there on my homepage, it said I hadn’t received any books from them yet. If you click on that, though, you can see that by “no books” they mean “this book.” Oh, LibraryThing. Love ya.