On Becoming a Dinosaur by Java Davis
‘On Becoming a Dinosaur’ by Java Davis, is considered as a bonus short memoir that is included in the back of Davis’ novel, ‘Depression Carpenter.’ Seeing as it comes in at only seven pages, it is more appropriately categorized as a personal essay than a memoir. It focuses singularly on Davis’ professional life as a woman in the workplace, and the adversity she had to face and overcome as a professional type setter. She takes pride in the fact that she is not just another female typist, or secretary, or administrative assistant, but instead she is considered to be an expert in her field of typesetting, working with machines to make letters and words come together. Shifting locales from New York City to Philadelphia, and then by the end of the piece, to Washington DC for a trip to the Smithsonian Institution, Davis comes to realize that times are changing, and that her profession as a typesetter is not likely to be stable as computers and other more modern methods of typing come to be. This essay explores what it is like to see the practice you love fall out of favor, as the exhibit she witnesses at the Smithsonian exhibit ‘The History of Type,’ that the photocomposition machines she used to use are all roped off at the end of the exhibit, being viewed upon by everyone else as valuable antiques, thus making the author feel as if she has become an old, out of place, dinosaur.
This piece is interesting for the ideas it offers up, especially if the reader is interested in the profession Davis has experience in. She focuses nicely on the subject and the narrative progresses in a linear way. Her emotions are also written about on the page, bringing in her humanity into the piece. However, it could easily be expanded upon, perhaps even transformed into a true memoir, as the introductory page suggests the author wishes it to be. Additional characters, insights, and revelations added to the story would help this dinosaur escape extinction.
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