Life is Short —
Art is Shorter

Hawthorne Books, 2015, coeditor with Elizabeth Cooperman


Life Story

Not so close—I hardly know you. Watch my rear end, not hers. You hit it—you buy it. Hands off. No radio. No Condo/No MBA/No BMW. You toucha my car—I breaka your face. Protected by Smith & Wesson. Warning: This car is protected by a large sheet of cardboard.

LUV2HNT. Gun control is being able to hit your target. Hunters make better lovers: they go deeper into the bush—they shoot more often—and they eat what they shoot.

Yes, as a matter of fact, I do own the whole damn road. Get in, sit down, shut up, and hold on. I don’t drive fast; I just fly low. If you don’t like the way I drive, stay off the sidewalk. I’m polluting the atmosphere. Can’t do 55.

I may be growing old, but I refuse to grow up. Get even: Live long enough to become a problem to your kids. We’re out spending our children’s inheritance.

Life is pretty dry without a boat. I’d rather be sailing. A man’s place is on his boat. Everyone must believe in something; I believe I’ll go canoeing. Who cares!

Eat dessert first; life is uncertain. Why be normal?

Don’t follow me; I’m lost, too. Wherever you are, be there. No matter where you go, there you are. Bloom where you are planted.

Easy does it. Keep it simple, stupid. I’m 4 Clean Air. Go fly a kite. No matter—never mind. UFOs are real. Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most. I brake for unicorns.

Choose death.



“Half meditation on the nature of the form, half textbook for the instruction of the same, the anthology mostly succeeds on both fronts, remaining highly readable and full of erudite commentary. For people new to the nature of the short-short format, or who have limited experience with the pieces contained within, this is an insightful and valuable collection.”
Alex McCown-Levy, A.V. Club

“Cooperman and Shields have written a great essay; both powerful as a unified argument and elegantly satisfying as a collage. Its many proverb-like short paragraphs–some composed by them, some adopted from Charles Baxter, Sarah Manguso, Virginia Woolf (amongst others)–are rewarding over multiple readings. As a defense and validation of very brief prose, the essay is excellent.”
Daniel Wallace, Fiction Writers Review