Death Notice

The story goes like this: Ernest Hemingway, master of literary economy, is challenged to write a narrative in 10 words or less. Hemingway, of course, comes up with a heartbreaker in six. “For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.” It’s also been strongly rumoured, however, that Hemingway isn’t the author at all and that the story came from a theatre production about him instead. Whatever the case, the creator of the six-word slayer clearly knew that the entirety of human existence is catalogued in the print classifieds, from the barely contained joys of birth notices to the sunny Sunday horrors of deceased-estate sales.

The print classifieds are certainly a rich reservoir for the banal and the bizarre. In any given issue of the Trading Post’s Queensland edition, you’ll find the usual: cars and computers, fish tanks and barbecues, puppy litters and board games. But there will also be someone’s toilet going for $60 (or nearest offer), a 4.5-cubic-foot front-loader kiln, beef calves of various breeds and used women’s hot pants selling for three dollars each, with emphasis placed on the “USED”. The “Other Pets” section is almost exclusively – inexplicably – occupied by pythons.