03 September 2010

Featuring . . . It All Changed in an Instant edited by Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser

This Friday and every Friday for the next several months I'll be featuring a book in the Harper Perennial Imprint. Some were recently published, some will be released later this year, all are worth a closer look.

It All Changed in an Instant is Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser's second collection of six-word memoirs. This is a fun and surprisingly difficult exercise that has become a widespread hit. I'll leave it to the publisher to explain more:

The editors of the New York Times bestseller Not Quite What I Was Planning are back with its much-anticipated sequel, It All Changed in an Instant. With contributions from acclaimed authors like Malcolm Gladwell, Frank McCourt, Wally Lamb, Isabel Allende, Junot Diaz, Amy Tan, and James Frey, and celebrities like Sarah Silverman, Suze Orman, Marlee Matlin, Neil Patrick Harris, Ann Coulter, and Chelsea Handler, It All Changed in an Instant presents a thousand more glimpses of humanity . . . six words at a time. In the vein of the popular Post Secret books, It All Changed in an Instant, in the words of Vanity Fair, "will thrill minimalists and inspire maximalists."

Funny and bittersweet, witty and wild, or downright tragic, these addictive life stories are both monumental and miniscule. Six-word memoirs have become a global phenomenon, offering anyone and everyone a telling peek at humanity and a chance to find the writer within.
This is the kind of book I love to thumb through to see what will catch my eye. It's not a book to sit down with and read cover to cover all in one go. Instead, you'll find yourself picking it when the mood strikes and then sharing memoirs with your friends and family. Soon every one will want to be in on the act. (At least among my crowd.)

The book is enhanced with some artwork, and the use of different fonts makes the memoirs seem to pop off the page. Believe me, you'll either be laughing at or nodding in agreement with most of them.

Here are some random memoirs from It All Changed in an Instant:
  • John Grogan: "That dumb dog sure paid off."
  • Frank McCourt: "The miserable childhood leads to royalties."
  • Gloria Steinham: "Life is one big editorial meeting."
  • Amy Tan: "Former boss: 'Writing's your worst skill.' "
  • Marlee Matlin: "I've done it all except hear."
There are about a thousand memoirs collected in the book. And don't worry if you don't immediately recognize a name. At the back of the book you can read more about each contributor.

It's not all that easy to distill your life down to six words. I've been trying to write my own memoir, but I can't quite get it right. I'll let you know when I come up with one.

This book was featured as part of my Spotlight on the Harper Perennial imprint. For information about the imprint, please read Erica Barmash's welcome note posted here on June 18, 2010. I encourage you to add your reviews of Harper Perennial books to the review link-up page; it's a great way to discover Good Books for Cool People. See the alphabetized review index to see what others are saying. And don't miss the The Olive Reader, the Harper Perennial blog.

It All Changed in an Instant at Powell's
It All Changed in an Instant at Book Depository
These links lead to affiliate programs.

Published by HarperCollins / Harper Perennial, January 2010
ISBN-13: 9780061719431


Sandy Nawrot 9/3/10, 6:37 AM  

I absolutely love these. It's harder than you think, isn't it? I think my favorite is the "Dumb dog sure paid off".

Julie P. 9/3/10, 8:31 AM  

I love this idea and have been meaning to check out these books. I don't think I'm creative enough to come up with my own!

Anonymous,  9/3/10, 8:42 AM  

My memoir would change every day. Right now it's "I woke up too damn early." Which may not seem like much of a memoir, but I'm sure it's going to have an impact on the rest of my day!

Anonymous,  9/3/10, 8:54 AM  

What a great concept. Here is mine:
"Military, marriage, kids - new starts always".



Thoughts of Joy 9/3/10, 9:09 AM  

I love Six Word Memoirs!

bermudaonion 9/3/10, 12:01 PM  

I love six word memoirs, so I think this sounds like a terrific book!

Barbara 9/3/10, 1:48 PM  

I love Amy Tan's 6 word memoir. Could have been written by yours truly. I've tried several times to write one and it is really difficult.

Christy 9/3/10, 8:35 PM  

When I was visiting with a friend at a bookstore, she pulled out one of these books and we enjoyed reading random pages. I think they work best when you know some background about the writer, but not that is not necessarily a hard and fast rule.

Rikki 9/4/10, 4:04 AM  

Oh, right, this is interesting. I only know this 6 word concept from the six word stories based on Hemingway's. Sounds like an good book to browse through.

Vasilly 9/4/10, 10:41 PM  

I read the first six word memoirs and loved it. Will pick this one up.

Alice 9/5/10, 7:13 AM  

I read this sometime back and I love it! This one is really worth picking up.

alyssa 9/6/10, 11:49 PM  

6 words for Beth:

Thanks for your very positive recommendation!

Alyssa, SMITH intern

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