For the last eight years, the New York Public Library has been collecting short autobiographies from visiting artists and writers.
Very short. Seven words short.
At the always excellent Brain Pickings blog, Maria Popova compiles the best of the lot.
Novelist Tom Wolfe offers, “Ace daddy, gym rat, Balzolan reporter, PhD.”
From novelist William Gibson: “Postwar. Cold War. Stop the War. Later.”
John Irving: “Imagined missing father; wrestled, wrote, fathered children.”
Joan Didion is defiant: “Seven words do not yet define me.”
And musician David Byrne goes overboard: “Unfinished, unprocessed, uncertain, unknown, unadorned, underarms, underpants, unfrozen, unsettled, unfussy.”
A few years ago the online magazine Smith conducted a similar exercise, in their case gathering “six-word memoirs”. Put it down to inflation.
Such as author Dave Eggers: “Fifteen years since last professional haircut”.
Singer Aimee Mann: “Couldn’t cope so I wrote songs”.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales: “Yes, you can edit this biography.”
And comedic talk-show host Stephen Colbert: “Well, I thought it was funny.”