Larry Smith is the founder of Smith Magazine with Tim Barko. Taking a cue from novelist Ernest Hemingway, who, according to literary legend, was once challenged to write a short story in only six words, Smith Magazine set out to do the same. Hemingway's six-word story read: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."
In November 2006, Smith's editors Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser gave the six-word story a personal twist, asking Smith readers to tell their life story in just six-words. Smith readers submitted their six-words via www.smithmag.net, and Smith's Twitter account. The results were uneven, and the themes spanned different topics from love to parenthood.
What surfaced was a collective autobiography from Smith readers as both individuals and members of the larger Smith collective. In early 2007, Smith signed with "Harper Perennial", and the Six-Word Memoir book series was born. A second, expanded version of the original was released in October 2008.
Highlights from professional writers and artists include journalist Chuck Klosterman, "Nobody cared, then they did. Why?" pop singer-songwriter Adam Schlesinger, "We still don't hear a single", and comic strip artist Keith Knight "I was a Michael Jackson impersonator." The Smith team hoped to collect memoirs that would span themes and subject matter. Some read like traditional stories, 9-year old Hannah Davies, "Cursed with cancer. Blessed by friends." Others were like bumper stickers. Rip Riley: "No wife. No kids. No problems." Some were more difficult to label. Amy Sedaris: "Mushrooms. Clowns. Wands. Five. Wig. Thatched."
In May 2008, Smith announced three new Six-Word Memoir book projects: Six Word Memoirs on Love & Heartbreak, then a book of Six-Word Memoirs by and for teens (Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure), and a second general Six-Word Memoir sequel to the original.
In addition to a print series, Six-Word Memoir contests are also held on www.smithmag.net which cover a range of topics and themes.
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