For sale: baby shoes, never worn
"For sale: baby shoes, never worn." is the entirety of what has been described as a six-word novel, making it an extreme example of what is called flash fiction or sudden fiction. Although it is often attributed to Ernest Hemingway, the link to him is unsubstantiated and similar stories predate him.Hemingway's purported authorship usually centers upon his doing so as the result of a wager between him and other writers. In a 1992 letter to Canadian humorist John Robert Colombo, science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke recounts it thus: While lunching with friends at a restaurant (variously identified as Luchow's or The Algonquin), Hemingway bets the table ten dollars each that he can craft an entire story in six words. After the pot is assembled, Hemingway writes "For sale: baby shoes, never worn" on a napkin, passes this around the table, and collects his winnings.
The May 16, 1910, edition of The Spokane Press had an article titled "Tragedy of Baby's Death is Revealed in Sale of Clothes." At that time, Hemingway would only have been aged ten, and years away from beginning his writing career.