Thursday, January 14th, 2010
There was sex, there were tears, there was chocolate. There were limited-edition Six-Word Memoir buttons for everyone who shared a memoir. Here are a few scenes from the It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure book tour. Next up: a special evening at the 92nd Street Y on Jan. 24.
In Brooklyn, Nora Krug had an overflowing house at Greenpoint’s WORD books hanging on her every word as she told the story behind the story of her six-word memoir, “Grandparents died before I could ask,” which dealt with her German heritage and the Holocaust; moments later Nick Douglas took the mood in an entirely different direction with: “Jeez, Mom, just close the door.”
In Milwaukee, at Next Chapter Books, Jennifer Companik (above), author of, “Am sometimes mistaken for a prostitute,” told a rollicking backstory about a history of being assumed to be a working girl, but did so in such a way that her young son sitting in the audience would think she has had years of being asked to “paint fences” (it was kind of odd and quite genius).
In Austin, at BookPeople, a 10-year-old girl named Sydney may have outdone the other 70+ memorists—including SMITH’s Austin-based designer/community developer Ben Brown (”Everything I’ve made can be deleted”)—as she advised the assembled: “Life is hard, eat more chocolate.” We also met the lovely and talented Maggie McDonald, who told the story behind “Love boxed wine in Solo Cups,” and then we showed her perfect video.
In San Francisco, a standing room only crowd at BookSmith laughed with emphathy when Jill Pixley stated, “Clicking ‘Reply All’ f****d everything up,” then turned quieter as Alice Rules shared a powerful, personal story behind her six words: “Born, married, widowed. All in November,” and cheered wildly when bookstore owner Praveen Madan explained, “Had midlife crisis; bought this bookstore.” The next day, at Book Passage, Tiffany Shlain noted that her own father, the writer Leonard Shlain, had spoken in this very same space many times. As she talked about the events in her life that lead her to write, “Dad’s funeral. Daughter’s birth. Flowers everywhere,” there were many wet eyes in the house.
Finally, because the Six-Word Memoir project has truly been not quite what we were planning from day one, perhaps we shouldn’t have been shocked at the surprises in Seattle at University Books. The lovely Lynette Johnson brought two beautifully hand-crafted books of six-word memoirs, which included memoirs to her from her friends, and memoirs about each friend from her on the opposing page. We didn’t know what was coming when active SMITH member and It All Changed in an Instant book contributor Litsa Dremousis took to the podium. In the new book, Litsa’s Six-Word Memoir is, “We’re both someone else’s problem now.” But that’s not the memoir, and backstory, she decided to tell. It was this one in the video below. As her words spillled out, I wondered if Meagan Swenson, who has just told the story behind, “Broke rules. Dated coworker. Blissfully married,” her two young boys next to her, was going to have a cow. She didn’t, and in fact when it came time for the audience six-word slam at the end of the evening, she looked right at Litsa and said: “Glad boys were daydreaming during yours.” Click play below for the whole story.