Sign language

Photograph: Cinza Reale-Castello

Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in six words. He came back with this: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Smith Magazine posed a similar challenge to its readers by hosting a six-word memoir contest. After sifting through some15,000 entries, the editors chose this tiny tale by Abigail Moorhouse as the winner: “Barrister, barista, what’s the diff, Mom?”

Eight hundred other memoirs have been compiled in an anthology to be released Tue 5, including entries by Mario Batali, Stephen Colbert and Amy Sedaris.

Brevity may be the soul of wit, but how witty are New Yorkers when it comes to telling their six-word life stories? TONY hit the streets with a whiteboard to find out.

For more info on Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure, go to

Check out more New Yorker’s life stories.