Category Archives: books

six words can tell a story

“Brevity: a good thing in writing. Exploited by texters, gossip columnists, haikuists. Not associated with the biography genre. But then – why shouldn’t it be? Life expectancies rise; attention spans shrink. Six words can tell a story.”   -Lizzie Widdicombe, “Say It All in Six Words,” The New Yorker 

In the spirit of (shameless) cross- and self-promotion, I’d like to direct your attention to this article I wrote for SMITH on Tuesday, Notes from the Master of the Six-Word Meme. Yes, that’s me. The Master of the Meme. I’m thinking of putting that on my business cards. I guess I have to get business cards first. A meme, as I explain in the article, is the internet’s version of a chain letter. The one I’ve been following for the past four months asked people to take our concept – the six-word memoir – and write their own, tagging five other bloggers with the task. It’s easy, it’s fun, and people seem to love it; googling “six word memoir” and “meme” together yields 109,000 results. I’m not saying I’ve read every single one. But I have seen hundreds, thousands – many – and, for better or for worse, I’ve learned a whole lot about the blogosphere along the way. I’m not going to say anymore here, but please click the link if you’re interested. Summing it all up over at SMITH has  helped me to put the entire experience in perspective.

Continue reading



Filed under books, speeches, writing

california dreaming

“That is the stupidest story I ever heard, and I read the entire Sweet Valley High series.” -Moe, “Homer the Moe,” The Simpsons

I read a lot when I was younger.  Standard kids stuff, Narnia and Little House on the Prairie and all that.  Then in sixth grade, I read Julius Caesar for a book report.  It was a big leap, but I managed to trudge through it, relying heavily on the footnotes.  It should have been the start of my literary life: next Macbeth, then Dickens, then, I don’t know, Proust?  But something happened that year, something complicated and indescribable, and pretty soon, I was on my way to owning and/or reading every book in the entire Sweet Valley franchise.  

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under books, radio

welcome to shirley

“I wrote much of this in a room in our small farmhouse in the middle of nowhere in rural Pennsylvania and I think that was necessary. I was in no shape for human interaction for much of it, and being in this landscape allowed me to go deep into those cracks and crevices, feel that pain again, and stay there a while.” -Kelly McMasters

I spend most of my days doing editorial work at the Commonwealth Club and desperately searching for ways to make money on the side.  But in my spare time, when I’m not doing things that normal young people like to do, I work for SMITH, an online magazine devoted to nonfiction, memoir, and collective story telling.  I caught SMITH at a weird, intense time – their first book, Not Quite What I Was Planning, was just hitting the New York Times bestseller list.  I was thinking about moving to New York and they were ready to toss me in with all the publicity and the readings and whatever they’re still doing over there.  And then I moved to San Francisco.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under books, interviews