Brat-Tastic! — “Confessions of a Prairie Bitch” by Alison Arngrim
The one thing I knew about “Little House..”, was that I HATED Nellie Oleson.
HATED. Capital letters HATED. Maybe even bold-font…HATED.
Years have passed, and I’m over it. I’ve even come to love Nellie as a part of childhood.
Until I heard “Confessions of a Prairie Bitch” was a real, actual book, the fact that there was a human being behind my love-hate relationship with this TV character had never crossed my mind.
Her name is Alison Arngrim, and she’s funny.
Simply, this book is wonderful. I devoured it. I might even read it a second time, in case I missed stuff the first time through.
I love a good Hollywood memoir as much as anyone, and this book knocked me flat. Basically, Arngrim can write – and well. The material in this book has been perfected as part of a one-woman/stand-up show she’s apparently been doing for a while, but all that practice has polished it up like a gem.
It’s a diamond. Seriously.
Recently, I wrote about Carrie Fisher’s memoir “Wishful Drinking.” Arngrim’s family gives Ms. Fisher’s wacky family a run for their money. Did you know Alison Arngrim’s mother was the voice of Casper the friendly ghost and her father was a personal agent for Liberace? No joke. From these crazy circumstances often come tremendous talents.
A a kid, she was cast as a hyper-brat named Nellie Oleson on a new TV show, one no one imagined would become as big a phenomenon as it did. That show was, of course, “Little House on the Prairie.” The behind-the-scenes scoop is all fascinating, and I’m not even a huge fan of the show. Arngrim’s friendship with Melissa Gilbert, and other backstage relationships, are honestly documented. Michael Landon was a great actor and director and respected the kids on the show, however the book is honest about him. He was no angel, but no one ever is.
It’s not all rainbows and petticoats, though. Before getting cast on “Little House,” she suffered years of abuse at the hands of her brother. The actor who was cast as Nellie’s husband wound up being one of her best friends, until he died of AIDS. Arngrim has made lemonade of these situations, though, by working as an advocate for both AIDS charities and an incest-prevention organization called PREVENT.
“Confessions of a Prairie Bitch” is a delightful book, in which a child star explains her life; the good, the bad, and the “Little House.”
Nellie Oleson owns you, world. Get used to it.