Monday, August 8, 2011

My Autobiography, Dances With Monkeys

The following was a writing sample I wrote as part of the application process for a job. As I didn't get said job, I am now posting it for your amusement. Here's what spewed out of my brain in the allotted hour. Enjoy - I'm going to create another writing sample for another job.

"Monkeys" a Linguistic Menagerie

Allison Finseth’s highly anticipated autobiography, Dances With Monkeys, is a bizarre exploration of ordinary life. Vivid descriptions of her short life thus far ensconce the reader in a delightful little world. Her brief and varied existence is concisely described in occasionally hyperbolic – but always beautifully clear – language.

Her experiences as a child are rich and colorful, and she manages to expound upon tiny experiences that have made her life all the more incredible. Small elements from her childhood – from the pig stone in her backyard to the flaming shirt incident – remain fresh in her memory and come alive on each page. “Real life,” she says, “is more unbelievable than any story we could ever tell.” The family tree she has detailed at the beginning of the book is perhaps the greatest proof of this statement. She describes her family as a “not-for-television Brady Bunch,” a quite accurate moniker.

Her college experiences, though fairly typical, remain interesting for her attention to the minutest of details, especially where her husband – whom she refers to as her “spousal unit” – are involved. Their relationship strikes the reader with a sense of stepping into a fairy tale, though she does not hesitate to describe the hardships they have overcome.

Finseth’s incredible job history features a few oddities, including her stint as “gift shop worker / tour guide” at an alpaca ranch in New Mexico. Her blind leap into New Mexico makes clear that while she does not make a habit of risky choices, she knows that “faith is often the most reliable method of rebirth.”

Her veritable menagerie of experience, coupled with her knack for simple but beautiful language, set her autobiography above the chaff one often encounters. Finseth quite easily makes the nonfiction of her life read like an entertaining novel.

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