Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Hemingway Challenge

Six-word novels from 25 influential writers

Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in six words. The result: “For sale: baby shoes, never used.” Rumor has it that Hemingway regarded it as his greatest work. Stirred by this masterwork, the editors of BlackBook asked 25 of today’s most renowned writers to offer their own original six-word stories. Some offered more than 10 narratives in less than an hour’s time, while others took weeks to labor over each of their six words. In spite of its economy, the collection delivers the same humor, drama, irony, and suspense found in literature’s lengthier tomes.

Give it a try in a Comment to this Post!

“Forgive me!” “What for?” “Never mind.” –John Updike

Eyeballed me, killed him. Slight exaggeration. –Irvine Welsh

Satan—Jehovah—fifteen rounds. A draw. –Norman Mailer

“Welcome to Moeshe Christiansen’s Bar Mitzvah.” –Andrea Seigel

grass, cow, calf, milk, cheese, France –Rick Moody

He remembered something that never happened. –A.M. Homes

Saigon Hotel. Decades later. He weeps. –Robert Olen Butler

—I love you . . . –Love ya back. –Courtney Eldridge

She gave. He took. He forgot. –Tobias Wolff

You are not shit. You are! –Memoir, Jerry Stahl

All her life: half a house. –Jamie O’Neill

Poison; meditation; skiing; ants—nothing worked. –Edward Albee

My nemesis is dead. Now what? –Michael Cunningham

I saw. I conquered. Couldn’t come. –David Lodge

“Cyanide? Bitter almonds.” He knew. How? –Brian Bouldrey

Father died. Mother triumphed. I left. –Mary Gaitskill

“You? Her? No dice, fat boy.” –Pinckney Benedict

Oh, that? It’s nothing. Not contagious. –Augusten Burroughs

Mother’s Day came, doubling Oedipus’ pleasure. –Bruce Benderson

Tossed remorselessly, whiffle balls sure hurt. –J.T. LeRoy

As she fell, her mind wandered. –Rebecca Miller

It’s negative. Say hi to Mom. –Ben Greenman

Horny professor. Failing coed. No tenure. –“A Short History of Academia,” by Sue Grafton

Shiva destroys Earth: “Well, that’s that.” –A.G. Pasquella

Havana’s no place for hockey, coach. –Nicholas Weinstock.

The above appeared in the Utne Reader, July-August 2005, reprinted from the Fall 2004 Arts Issue of BlackBook. Thanks to Kathy Schienle for passing the challenge along to us.

66 comments:

Clifford Garstang said...

Sold wedding band. Fled to Tibet.

Carol Peters said...

Miffed and crocked, he decked Wallace.

Jilly said...

Let's do drugs and drive around.

david coyote said...

Believe me. Your life depends upon it.

bevjackson said...

Opened box. No ring. Closed case.

Rob Trott said...

Last words, he said. I have none.

Ginger said...

He was right, but it didn't matter.

Ginger said...

Oops...

He was right; it didn't matter.

Ginger said...

So much yet so little.

Ginger said...

Rest In Peace, All of You.

Ginger said...

He worked. She cooked. They ate.

Ginger said...

Explosions. Starvation. Wish I were home.

Ginger said...

Baby cries. Dawn breaks. Hope returns.

Ginger said...

Creation, elation, devastation, destruction, construction, rebirth.

Ginger said...

Plane ascends; plummets, bursts into flames.

Ginger said...

Birth; maturation; decline; death; disintegration; rebirth.

Ginger said...

Serve, return, slam, game, match, win.

Ginger said...

Bud, bloom, fruit, jam, eaten, digested.

Ginger said...

Frigid, cold, cool, tepid, warm, hot.

Ginger said...

Lost in space, no forwarding address.

Ginger said...

Sign reads "Quicksand" -- he can't read.

Ginger said...

Toast burnt; coffee stale; bus early.

Ginger said...

Coyote howls, Dark night, flat tire.

Ginger said...

Outdoors making love; leaves rustlel; busted.

Ginger said...

Can't talk - wife's here.

Fuck you!

Ginger said...

Bathroom. Last minute. "Out of Order."

Ginger said...

Hang-up call. Husband nervous. Mistress sighs.

Ginger said...

Muhammed Ali: I am the greatest.

Ginger said...

Fred Astaire: Singing in the Rain.

Ginger said...

Kansas, Oz, Kansas. Dorothy's roundtrip nightmare.

Ginger said...

Free samples. Get hooked. Crack addict.

Ginger said...

I write. He reads. They critique.

Ginger said...

He smiles. She demurs. Bus arrives.

Ginger said...

Rotweiler named Killer -- good child's pet.

Ginger said...

Super man. Lonely wife. Marital affair.

Ginger said...

Close case. Strike match. Burn finger.

Clifford Garstang said...

Explosions ripped through the cathedral. Dead.

rob trott said...

Higher, she said. Higher. Right there.

Mary Beth said...

Adam fled garden after fall. Damn!

Peg said...

Silent but deadly. Who would know?

Phone Tapped. Dead body. I'm what?

Clear the threshold unless your them.

Caught in midlife. Grow up!

God lives! They killed his son!

Rampant thoughts. Secrets unfold. Start recording.

Toilet paper on sale. Double up!

Life with Myron, and my underwear!

Thom Duncan said...

Wanted: Snuff film actors, send resume.

Pyroc said...

For once, love decided to behave.

Necrolotu said...

Yet again, I was called out.

Anonymous said...

Pound dog. Home dog. Pound dog.

Tastes like chicken said...

London stood here once, he realised

tran said...

I shot. He cried. I apologized.

flat television said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Originalname37 said...

"Flat television"'s spam's disqualified. I win.

Dawn Colclasure said...

This was very interesting reading! I took the challenge and the result is on my DC blog here:

http://dawncolclasureblog.blogspot.com/2009/01/6-word-story-challenge.html

mjliu said...

Enough paint to cover the blemish.

jpmorganjr said...

"It's midnight, let's go to bed."

J said...

Hemingway challenge? It's on, and over!

Marky said...

I tried, Ginger cried. She failed.

Flerkin McBlerkin said...

As a father, I tear up every time I see that Hemmingway line, it's truly heart-wrenching! :-(
Sunroom

Originalname37 said...

Actually, Flerkin McBlerkin, the Hemmingway one used to seem sad to me until I became a parent. Now that I know how fast kids' feet grow, I realize that no tragedy is required.

iamjackscollapse said...

Well read boy declares. Ginger Sucks.

Anonymous said...

Two stories in the same book

IsabelRodriguez said...

A sign big, bold, foreboding: Foreclosure

Anonymous said...

The silence fell and never left

Josh Nabours said...

He said, She said, They lied.

Samuel Oliveira said...

A bullet today, a memory tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Hell or high water...choose one.

Annette Gagliardi said...

Sinned, but confessed. All is forgiven.

Annette Gagliardi said...

Thunder storm!
No umbrella ! !
Got wet! O

Annette Gagliardi said...

B-ball game
no score
lame game

Annette Gagliardi said...

Aching muscles!
Steaming bath;
Prolonged submerge .