Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Shortest Story Ever Told

On a recent trip here, I was directed to this.

Go ahead. Click it. It's a pretty interesting list of "six word novels" (new meaning to the term "short story," I s'pose).

Basically, it's a response to Wired's request that big shot writers take a stab at mirroring Hemingway's six word story:

"For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

As I read over the 33 submissions, I couldn't help but think that no one had truly accomplished what Hemingway had done. The above sentence really tells a story... one you can imagine, from beginning to end.

But that's not to say many of those submissions aren't clever (they are)... just that the original works best for me.

A Few of My Favorites

Machine. Unexpectedly, I’d invented a time
- Alan Moore

It’s behind you! Hurry before it
- Rockne S. O’Bannon

I’m your future, child. Don’t cry.
- Stephen Baxter

Lie detector eyeglasses perfected: Civilization collapses.
- Richard Powers

To save humankind he died again.
- Ben Bova

K.I.A. Baghdad, Aged 18 - Closed Casket
- Richard K. Morgan

Epitaph: He shouldn't have fed it.
- Brian Herbert

He read his obituary with confusion.
- Steven Meretzky


As I read over these, I felt compelled to generate a few of my own. Granted, none of these are as good as the above, but it is a fun exercise....
  1. For sale: bulletproof vest. Some damage.
  2. Pete and Repeat: A boating disaster.
  3. Get that kid a better helmet.
  4. Tell me you love me. Please.
  5. One hand claps. Buddhists everywhere applaud.
  6. "Stop!" he shouted. "Or I'll..." BANG!
  7. Once upon a time. The End.
  8. It's all over before it begins.
  9. Once upon a time, she smiled...
  10. The nursing home smelled of circumstance.
  11. Stories upon stories littered the halls.
  12. Untold stories blanketed the padded walls.
  13. Dear John: Return my stuff. Ciao!
  14. Her hopes meant years of loneliness.
  15. For Sale: Engagement ring, slightly used.
  16. His hermitage was marked by fear.
  17. "I have nothing left! To say..."
  18. The dingo's babysitting career was short-lived.
  19. Proud parent of an honors student.
  20. My child's an honor roll student.
  21. I live alone in the city.
  22. She died alone, surrounded by cats.
  23. She lived full of sleep, waiting.
  24. But I only wanted a tune-up!
  25. Give me my monkey, you ape!
  26. Ophelia: Lovely day for a swim!
  27. Columbus: See! The world isn't FLA—
  28. I can't wait to grow up!
  29. Um. You just called me "Stephanie."
  30. My boyfriend is up for parole.
  31. "Nothing's wrong!" she screamed out. "Nothing!"
  32. Does this make my butt big?
  33. I wish you hadn't said that.
  34. I pronounce you husband and strife.
  35. You got my ring on EBAY?!
  36. But he was always so quiet!
  37. Recite pi to the last digit.
  38. Milk, milk, lemonade. Round the corner...
  39. Her existence was sad; sedate. Ordinary.


Anonymous said...

They moved Vietnam to the Tigris.


Anonymous said...

The Third Temple's built. The end.


michele said...

Nice! I like #5 and #25 the best. They're the ones that I can imagine a story for. Now I feel lazy for not having tried my hand at it as well!

Anonymous said...

Gunfire. "I'll get back to you."

Another election year. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Four years. Heavy loans. "Want fries?"

Cold bed. Fading scent. Flowing tears.

Anger. Denial. Confusion. "Is it mine?"

Does it hurt? "Only when I..."

A crowd parts. She's there. Heaven.

I sent one email today. Superfluous.

disgruntled world citizen said...

the check is in the mail.

migraine, again. i vomited alot today.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

DS - You still thinking about starting a blog? I'd love to have more ready access to your thoughts — Love the one about Tigris.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

Michele - It's not too late! And thanks for the link... very interesting story.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

BPP — All good, but I especially like the 'gunfire' and 'is it mine?' options.

Anonymous said...

thanks - but you see I hate


XOXO said...

I wanted to avoid making a list of my favorites from your list just on the principal of lists. I just can't resist. #2 makes me think back of the mulitple times we heard that story. #7 is the kind of story my sister would tell me at bedtime. #29 This one makes me have this giggle in my throat that could explode at any second. #18 makes me think of my other sister, as she would repeat the line to that movie over and over. I could seriously go on and on. This has to be one of my most favorite posts.

Eli Edmundson said...

eat my socks, with feet inside

Matty said...

my life story, born,lived,died.


Anonymous said...

I gotta shorter 1.


passer by said...

six words. two already gone. I.

JanetM said...

A late night, she walked alone.

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