Not Quite What I was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs

…which according to Vanity Fair magazine, “…will thrill minimalists and inspire maximalists.”

Maximalists…is that truly a word?

Anyway, this book, which is edited by another magazine, Smith Magazine, looks like good fun. A friend gave it to me some time ago and on this dark and dreary June afternoon, I am going to start it. This may give a whole new meaning to the editor’s maxim: “When in doubt, cut it (the copy) out.”

It could also be good fun to ask participants in a memoir writing class to try and sum up their lives in six words!!

Paul Quarrington, Cigar Box Banjo

Today I am including an interesting email from my brother, Dr. Geoffrey Simmins, an architectural historian and associate dean at the University of Calgary, Alberta. Have a listen to the audio files he includes as well.

“…but you would have to have a heart of stone to read Paul Quarrington’s memoir, Cigar Box Banjo, and not be moved by his self-deprecating honesty responding to the news that he has terminal cancer. It’s a great memoir, Marjorie, at least by what I have read of them, and might be a new(ish?) genre–the mortality memoir? I liked it better than his fiction, e.g., King Leary. (Didn’t read anything else by him though, e.g., Whale Music: maybe I should.) Certainly it has a poetic perfection to it all–Roddy Doyle writes the preface, and friends write the epilogue because, well, Paul dies in the writing of it. But not before he writes a damn fine memoir, and also a couple of great songs. Rage, rage against the…etc., or at least pour another glass of whiskey. I am going to try and send you the audio file with the song. “

“Hope you can access this file; if not, try this site–which is the same version:

And maybe even if so, have a look at the slower version of the co-authors–Dan Hill (yup, that Dan Hill) and Martin Worthy–a bit slow for my taste:

And here is Paul singing jazz and talking:

Here’s a tribute to him:

and…if you still have the energy: