A Tale in Eight Words

And Another Thing, Hon

There is a legend about Ernest Hemingway, in which the author bets a group of his fellow writers that he can compose an entire short story in six words. No one believes him, so he ups the ante to $10 from everyone who says he can’t. And then he writes the following words on a napkin:

“For Sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.”

We can assume that Hemingway won his bet. In the context of the time period, these words — by this particular writer — require only a fragment of imagination to put together an emotionally charged story of hopeful anticipation, heartbreaking loss, and the moving forward of the human spirit. The words are simple; the tale they evoke is profound.

Over the past week, another simple sentence has been in my mind:

“A gunman opened fire in a crowded mall.” 

In just eight words, within the context of our…

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