Archive for January 2009

The Legend of the Six-Word Memoir   3 comments

A while back, my agent, Esther Newberg, forwarded me an email about the upcoming Six Word Memoir book, a follow-up to the best-selling Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six Word Memoirs By Writers Famous & Obscure. This one would be about Love and Heartbreak. I wrote a submission (so did Esther and hers was fabulous.)   The new book is on sale now and both Esther and my six-word memoirs are excerpted in the February Reader’s Digest.

I remember when I first heard about the Six-Word phenomenon. In the 1920s, Ernest Hemingway bet ten dollars that he could write a complete story in just six words. He wrote: “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.”  He won the bet.

When I first heard this, I got shivers. It evoked in me exactly what it was supposed to, a chilling montage in Victorian, Goreyesque black and white of the death of a newborn –at what hands? Thyphoid? A terrible accident? Murder? And on and on. Hemingway earned his genius status once again.

That was long before I had a child in 2003.  Because I wasn’t sure whether I would have another one, I kept all of her things, packed away in boxes at my parent’s house.  I didn’t do the second kid, I got dogs instead.  My mother asked me about a month ago if she could give the clothes to Goodwill and I checked in with my friend Jancee who’s first child is due in May. “I want them!!” She told me. I was kind of surprised because Jancee is such a germaphobe that I call her Howard Hughes. I just figured she’d want everything new and pristine. Au contraire, she wanted EV-ER-Y-THING.

So my mother brought it, five Hefty bags of baby clothes.  I went through some of them, stopping to ooh and ah at the itty-bitty snuggly baby sleepers and tissue thin Ralph Lauren ruffley dresses, and in one bag, I found another bag. Accessories. Hats and socks and shoes. And in that bag I discovered a pair of pale pink 0-3 month mary-janes with the tags still holding them together. My six-word story for them went, “Seventy bucks!  What was I, nuts?”

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Posted January 24, 2009 by julieklam in Books

Happy Birthday MLK   4 comments

We’ve had an interesting week here talking about Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks and Barack Obama and civil rights. Violet’s kindergarten is talking about this and she’s very interested and asking a lot of questions. I’m trying my best to explain the things which simply don’t make sense.

During the inaugural concert,  Obama stood before the Lincoln Memorial and Violet said, “Who is that statue?” I told her he was a very great president named Abraham Lincoln,  editing out his freeing the slaves because I haven’t yet explained slavery.  She expressed worry that “Lebrahan Penguin” was going to try and be president when it was Obama’s turn.

We also read a book on Rosa Parks where I skipped over the part about the lynching of 14 year old Emmet Till.  We’ve spent a week talking about why black people had to sit in the back of the bus.  She told me that her teacher, Miss Davis, was ten years old when Martin Luther King died and asks if Miss Davis sat in the back of the bus.  I can’t tell her, yet, that it was so much worse than that.

At the end of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman movie, Violet asked why the snowman has to melt and make a sad ending.   I told her the boy is going to build another snowman and it will come to life, too. That sometimes there are happy endings that they don’t show you.  (Because I have sad ending disorder.)

Today we were watching  Martin Luther King’s I Have A Dream Speech. Violet had been learning about it in school and wanted to hear it.  Midway through she said, “Was Martin Luther King ever funny? Like with his kids or something?”  It disturbed her that he’s in black and white and his voice is serious and the people look so sad.  Then she pointed to a corner of the screen, the date said “August 28, 1963.”  And she laughed.  August 28, 2003  is Violet’s birthday.

When it ended we were back talking about why bad people would want to hurt a good person (she doesn’t even know about Lebrahan Penguin) and why Martin Luther King was killed and had a sad ending.  She is thinking for a while and says, “Is Martin Luther King friends with Obama?” She asks.

“Yes,” I say, “I think they’re very good friends.”

“Oh,” she asks, “then did Martin Luther King get a happy ending because Barack Obama won?”

“Yes,” I reply, “I think he does.”

Posted January 19, 2009 by julieklam in Obama