The story is told of Ernest Hemingway who once wrote a six-word novel “For sale: baby shoes, never used.” The beauty of this anecdote, whether factual or fictional, is that the mind fills in the rest, blooming full of ideas either tragic or hopeful, supposing what led to this circumstance or what might have happened after. The idea of extreme conciseness has caught on in many aspects of our society; in advertising and marketing it is called a hook, on television it is a sit-com, and in my classes it is a term paper. There is now an industry developing in six-word biographies — publishers print books full of them — and it seems there will be no end to conciseness. (My favorite is Larry Smith’s Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure, now available in a revised and expanded edition! Exponential conciseness!) My problem is there are too many six-word biographies that suggest themselves. Life seems to be made up of them. A while back my wife challenged me to come up with one. Slightly missing the concept, I came up with six:
Missed the first day of school.
Spit that out of your mouth!
The position has already been filled.
Please help; will work for books.
Can’t count either.