Monday, April 16, 2012

Quick, critique your autobiography!

Last night I was challenged by a timed writing exercise which asked me to write a New York Times style book review of my own autobiography. Only problem:  the fictional autobiography in question had to be based on my true life. No exciting lies to vamp it up. Sixty minutes later and all I'd come up with was I'd been born someplace, went to school, and eventually married and grew come kiddos. True, sure, but so, so boring. Alas, it's as though I've never lived at all.

Which of course isn't true. I've had a homebirth, for goodness sake! So I've been thinking about it since and have given myself another chance. Here is one reviews of much, much better autobiographies. I gave myself my lunch--30 minutes--to write it. Hope you enjoy!

The Squirrels Are Coming!

Thomasin E. N. Propson's darkly comedic autobiography The Squirrels Are Coming! immerses the reader in the wacky world of the author’s childhood within a large homeschooling family and her subsequent attempt to blaze a trail of her own.

In contrast to rosy-cheeked, brightly-scrubbed versions of the typical homeschooler, Propson reveals the lifestyle’s mouldier notions, including a tale of an actual decomposing apple she kept underneath the kitchen sink--a botanical lifecycle lesson gone wrong--as well as the delight she took threatening her younger sibling, fearful of the ever-leering backyard squirrels, that a squirrel uprising was near at hand.

From her early childhood in Seattle, Washington suburbia to the teenage years spent in small-town Silverton, Oregon, Propson describes a childhood when walking into town to spend money on non-organic candies was still heralded as a girl's birthright rather than the parental neglect as it is commonly agreed to be today. Though hopped-up on sugar, her academic accomplishments are noteworthy, albeight tainted by the homeschooler stigma. As her innate quietness of spirit, initially attributed by society as  homeschooled awkwardness, gradually became recognized as supreme creative soul (confirmed in adulthood by DiSC testing) so did grow Propson's confidence--unpublished poetic genius vibrantly alive.

Propson's life since childhood has not been your typical homebody affair. After a brief stint as a “Bud Girl,” and a humerous fling with an older rock star, her dissatisfaction with the fast life of the west coast lead her to move east, where she settled in wholesome Wisconsin, graduated a proud Badger from the UW-Madison, and met and married the love of her life, chiropractor Justin Propson. Together the couple have slapped a coat of paint on an older home on Madison’s north side (which she claims to  love even though it lacks a dishwasher) and are raising two beautiful daughters, or as Propson lovingly refers to them, "future dishwashers."

Propson's life has come full circle, from child to wild and now again immersed in the beauty that is family. “I look forward to the day my brother visits,” she says, “so I can point out the squirrels who steal from our birdfeeder.” We are who we are, they say. And so it is.

Not perfect, but much better than last night's attempt.

Wait, still crappy, you say? Do better yourself, I dare you. In 30-60 mins. It's more difficult than you first realize.


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