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THE MOMENT: Wild, Poignant, Life-Changing Stories from 125 Writers and Artists Famous & Obscure

The Moment book is here! From SMITH Magazine, creators of the New York Times bestselling Six-Word Memoir series, THE MOMENT: Wild, Poignant, Life-Changing Stories from 125 Writers and Artists Famous & Obscure (Harper Perennial). The Moment is a collection of and moving personal pieces about key instances - a moment of opportunity, serendipity, calamity, or chaos - that have had profound consequences on our lives.

The stories in The Moment take many forms: written narratives, photographs, comics, illustrations, handwritten letters, tweets, and more. Contributors include bestselling authors Jennifer Egan, Dave Eggers, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Gregory Maguire, musicians Melissa Etheridge and Judy Collins, 100-year-old journalism legend Ruth Gruber, up-and-coming new voices such as Benjamin Percy, Tao Lin and Said Sayrafiezadeh, and many people published for the first time ever.

Give The Moment as a gift and then ask the best question in the world: What's your Moment?

The Moment Online Extras

Share Your Moment

Why not share your moment? You could be in a future book! Just submit your Moment below, via email, Facebook, or Twitter (#mymoment).

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The Moment: A Selection

Moment Mondays: “Serious” by Josh Axelrad

May 9th, 2011 by Larry Smith

Each Monday, we’re featuring a story from our upcoming book, The Moment, coming out in January 2012 from Harper Perennial. What’s a “moment”? It’s a story, told in words, images, emails or even the occasional Tweet, about something large or small, playful or profound, that changed someone’s life. Everybody has a Moment—what’s yours?

The story below by one of our favorite storytellers, Josh Axelrod, feels particularly poignant in the wake of the killing of Bin Laden.

Serious
by Josh Axelrad

The stunted ring sounds when he hangs up. I watch him walk back, his arms grooving. He sits, controller poised, eyes fixed on the television. “We’re bombing Afghanistan.”

The phone rings. There’s no more apt verb. Clem and I are on the couch with the controllers in our hands. It’s October 7, 2001. Clem pauses the game, the ring surging. Clem is unserious. His manner of ambling is comical. His arms are too long. He moves like an impersonated hippie. Both our lives have lacked substantive import to anyone, including ourselves, so far. He answers the phone with two syllables. Read more »

Moment Mondays: “Catcalled” by Cathy Alter

May 2nd, 2011 by Larry Smith

On Mondays, we’re featuring a story from our upcoming book, The Moment, coming out in January 2012 from Harper Perennial. What’s a “moment”? It’s a story, told in words, images, emails or even the occasional Tweet, about something large or small, playful or profound, that changed someone’s life. Everybody has a Moment—what’s yours?

The story below, “Catcalled,” comes from Washington, DC-based writer Cathy Alter. Alter is both a longtime contributor to our community and a memoirist who’s been interviewed about her writing process on SMITH.

Catcalled
By Cathy Alter

It’s sad to say that I became a woman the day I was objectified by a man. It’s sad because I would be lying if I didn’t say I liked it.

It was summer and I was 15. Still flat as a board, but tall and willowy, my hipless torso and ribbon legs predicting the shape I would eventually own in adulthood. Read more »

Moment Mondays: “Flash” by Caroline Paul

April 24th, 2011 by Larry Smith

Each Monday, we feature a story from our upcoming book, The Moment, coming out in January 2012 from Harper Perennial. What’s a “moment”? It’s a story, told in words, images, emails or even the occasional Tweet, about something large or small, playful or profound, that changed someone’s life. Everybody has a Moment—what’s yours?

The Moment below, “Flash,” comes from Caroline Paul, a writer who in a previous life was a San Francisco firefighter. It’s a singular moment in one person’s life, one most of us would never even come close to experiencing. And yet like the best Moments, “Flash” tells a larger story about growing up.

Flash
By Caroline Paul

“The situation now in the house’s hallway was pretty typical—pitch black from smoke, and hot. Very hot. We were all crawling and dragging hose, bumping into walls and each other. Then—it was this simple—the world exploded.”

Black smoke was pumping heavily from the house when we arrived. The chief looked unhappy; the first arriving crews hadn’t pinpointed the fire yet, and the situation was devolving. Read more »

Moment Mondays—”Bye, Nana” by Adam Roth

April 18th, 2011 by Larry Smith

Each Monday until our The Moment book comes out in January 2012, we’ll be featuring a Moment from the SMITH community to give you a little preview of what’s shaping up to be one of the most phenomenon experiences I’ve had as an editor, at SMITH or otherwise. From across the world, people have shared intimate, intense, funny, and profound stories—in words, photographs, comics, and the occasional Twitter feed—and together are creating a larger narrative about the people, places, and things that shape and change us as people. You can call them life epiphanies or breakthroughs, happy accidents or even unfortunate fate. We call them Moments. And everybody has a Moment—what’s yours?

Most Moments are very personal yet told in such a way that most of us can relate to what the author’s experiencing. One such Moment is “Bye, Nana,” a story told visually by Adam Roth, an illustrator living in Los Angeles. Adam’s story is uniquely his—and perhaps yours, too. Click the image to view Adam’s incredible illustration larger, and read his well-chosen words.

Everyone Has a Moment—What’s Yours?

December 4th, 2010 by Larry Smith


We’re in the homestretch of The Moment project, our newest book, one that’s once again fueled by the brilliance of the SMITH Magazine community. This challenge may be more than six words, but the song remains the same: it’s all about personal, passionate, meaningful storytelling. Like the Six-Word Memoir project, The Moment has turned out to be quite addictive. You’ve sent notes such as, “ever since I heard about the idea, I can’t stop wondering which moment changed my life the most,” and “I can’t stop readings the stories on the site…find myself bawling my eyes out.”

I’ve had email exchanges and calls with many writers, famous and obscure, who at first aren’t sure if they have a “moment”; by the end of these conversations, everyone does. And many of you have already shared multiple moments. A SMITH member who goes by the handle “Writingcocoon” has written two stories, “Trapped” (about how an incident in which she was trapped inside a bathroom stall at age five led to a lifetime of anxiety) and “Death Is Everywhere” (how as a volunteer, at age 10, at a convalescent home changed her young world view on mortality). Read more »

Comic Legend Arthur Suydam’s Moment

October 26th, 2010 by themoment

“I was in the hospital for a year, wrapped up like a mummy from head to toe. They thought I was going to die.”

Arthur Suydam, an iconic comic and sci-fi artist for Marvel Comics, National Lampoon, Heavy Metal and most everywhere else interesting, edgy art is found, writes about the moment he began to draw. His illustration below tells that story as well.

When I was five years old, a group of kids and I were outside playing and got a hold of some fireworks that didn’t go off. We’d seen a lot of cartoons where you tie a string to the dynamite, and the coyote is running with the dynamite in his pocket and it blows up. Read more »

Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Moment”: The Secret Life of Parents

October 21st, 2010 by Elizabeth Gilbert

“Hearing my mother’s voice calling to my father like that filled me with the most eerie and unsettling realization—namely, that these two people, my parents, existed separately from me.”

I must have been three years old because this happened in our old house, and we moved when I was four. I was upstairs, on the hallway carpet, on my belly, pushing a Barbie across the floor on her belly, as though she were a racecar. It was evening—after dinner, but before bedtime—and the household was slowly shutting down for the day. I could hear my parents moving about downstairs, making the mild noises of domestic life. Read more »

A Moment: Mom’s Tattoo

October 11th, 2010 by Larry Smith

“It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve seen my mom and she says, “look what I got,” and shows me the tattoo on her tan shoulder.”

Summer Pierre, a contributor to our most recent Six-Word Memoir book (”Arty dad, rocker mom, crazy childhood.”) offers a lovely illustrated Moment about her unusual mother with an unusual tattoo. She was eight years old when this Moment occurred. Click on the image below to enlarge, and let this intimate Moment sink in.

A Moment in the Piazza San Marco

October 5th, 2010 by Larry Smith

Julian Voloj and his wife Lisa live in Sunnyside, Queens. This photo is the Moment they knew they would be together. Julian explains below.

The photo was taken in 2002 at San Marco Square in Venice. Lisa and I had met briefly before in New York. She was 26, hailed from the Midwest, and living in Brooklyn. I was 28, born in Germany to Colombian parents, and living in Brussels. She came to visit me in Europe for our first “real” date.

When we kissed for the first time, we both knew that this is it. Everyone thought we were crazy, but against all odds, everything worked out. A year later I moved to New York, we got married the following year, and today we are happy parents of two boys.

I took this photo with a self-timer.

A Moment with Hunter S. Thompson

September 19th, 2010 by Cheryl Della Pietra

“This is Hunter Thompson. If you can get out here tomorrow, this job is yours. I’ll have my assistant buy you a ticket. You can pick it up at the airport. Tomorrow.”

In 1992, at 3am, Cheryl Della Pietra, now a copyeditor and mother, rolled out of bed in her postage stamp-sized Greenwich Village apartment to answer the ringng phone. Who could it be? In her Moment for SMITH Magazine, she writes:

I’m often up until 2, but almost never 3. And even though at this hour I’ve slept through hotel fire alarms, the phone jars me awake. The voice could be a prank, but it’s too random, and too much as I’ve imagined from what I’ve read. It’s a barky mumble, at once shy and demanding.

“Can you get out here tomorrow?”

“I’m sorry?” I say, sitting up.

“This is Hunter Thompson. If you can get out here tomorrow, this job is yours. I’ll have my assistant buy you a ticket. You can pick it up at the airport. Tomorrow.”

Read the rest of Cheryl’s Moment.

 
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