Six Lines

One hack that I’m fond of — but have failed at — is the efficient idea that every e-mail you send should be five sentences or fewer. Outside of my in-box, brief writing is thriving with the publication of “Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure,” edited by Rachel Fershleiser and Larry Smith. Amusing examples abound (“Most successful accomplishments based on spite”), and more than a few have a melancholy kick (“He left me for good eventually”). Wired magazine editor Kevin Kelly points out the boomlet in brief review sites, such as The Four Word Film Review ( http://www.fwfr.com/default.asp) and Paul Ford’s six-word music reviews ( http://www.themorningnews.org/archives/reviews/sixword_reviews_of_763_sxsw_mp3s.php). But none of these matches the wit of their more long-winded ancestor, the Guardian’s The Digested Read ( http://books.guardian.co.uk/digestedread/0,,124958,00.html). When you need to skewer a pretentious book in six paragraphs, only an Englishman will do.

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