Confessions of a Prairie Bitch, by Alison Arngrim *****

confessionsofaprairiebitchThey say actors tend to have high IQs. This book is one more piece of evidence. Arngrim is super smart, and she can really write. And she is very, very funny.

Like a lot of comedians (which is what she did after being a child actor,at least for a time), her unerring comic instinct developed as a survival skill. Terrible families come in a wide range of dysfunction, but if domestic atrocities were a contest (and thank goodness they aren’t), Christina Crawford (Mommie Dearest) would be left eating Arngrim’s dust. The enormous temper tantrums and other vile forms of acting out inherent in the character she played were a recipe for mental health. How many other people get to go out and scream at other people for a living? And trust me, she needed all the help she could get. For the specifics, get this book and read it. It is worth the cover price.

Public reaction to Arngrim ranges from the hysterically funny to the almost unbelievable. She and her Prairie mom went to a fair as part of a publicity effort, to sign autographs etc, but they were attacked by an angry mob and had to slide out of there quietly. On a French television program, she was asked to explain her bad behavior, and she explained, as if she were her character, that she had been raised by a dreadful mother and was jealous of Laura. The studio audience and talk show hosts all understood entirely. It’s just too hilarious!

In real life, she has been close friends with Melissa Gilbert since their early days together on the set, and she spoke so well of Gilbert that I think I may read her memoir, too…and I was not even remotely interested in doing so before this! She also has some interesting things (I am dying to divulge, but won’t…READ THE BOOK!) about Michael Landon. Wowzers.

Not-so-funny is her experience losing a good friend to AIDS. I lost an old high school chum in the late 80’s, when a whole generation (or more) of gay men were unknowingly exposed to a deadly virus that at the time had no useful treatment. I applaud the years she has served as an advocate for HIV awareness and treatment. She has gone to bat for abused children, too. Again, you have to get the book! You just have to read it!

I always have 4-6 books on a string at a time, and I float more or less freely from one to the next. The only time I put this one down for another was at bedtime, because for awhile it was rollicking enough not only to keep me awake, but to keep me awake and laughing, or shaking the mattress with suppressed gales.

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