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Confessions of a Prairie Bitch - How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrim Books in Review
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Confessions of a Prairie Bitch - How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated
by Alison Arngrim
It Books
ISBN 978-0-06-196214-1
Published June 2010 - Hardcover - 302 pages - $25.99

This is my third Little House on the Prairie actor's autobiography.  This one, by super-horrible Nellie Oleson (Alison Arngrim), is an eye-opener as it's a revealing look at what makes this girl/woman tick.  We all knew Nellie was a horrible girl, but poor Alison has had to weather insults just for playing a character on television.  These sentences say it all: "By making me a bitch [playing Nellie], you have freed me from the trite, sexist, bourgeois prism of "likeability...".  Any idiot can be liked.  It takes talent to scare the crap out of people".  I don't know how people/viewers can be so gullable as to believe Alison to actually be Nellie Oleson and to verbally communicate their hatred towards her.  She was an actress playing a horrible (some would argue a wonderful) role, that's all.  And, she seems a very nice person.  Alison Arngrim comes from a theatrical family, with Mom being the cartoon voices of Casper the Ghost and Gumby, while Dad was a talent manager (Liberace was a client), and both hailed from Canada.  Brother Stefan was an actor.  They lived at the Chateau Marmont for a while after arriving in Los Angeles, and their lives have not been the same.  First came a few television commercials and a film role, and before beginning the life of a washed-up-out-of-work-eleven-year-old-actress, "Nellie Oleson" became a reality.  I loved her recollections of her auditions and meeting the two Melissas and her enlightening details of the cast and some of the crew.  Arngrim's nasty Nellie must have been fun to play, and she recalls many episodes and things that happened on and off set, and it was wonderful reading about things that went on around the set, including things Michael Landon got up to.  She gives a good insight into many actors' behaviour that we wouldn't have have otherwise known.  Alison not only acted, she was also heavily involved in AIDS education, and still is.  She also talks about her family and her older brother's disturbing and inexcuseable behaviour towards her, his drug addiction, and more.  I'm systematically working my way through the television series on DVD, and reliving some special shows and memories.  And, it's great television.
From Alison's assessment of Melissa Sue Anderson, I think I'm spot on about my remarks in my review of her book.
Conclusion - Told with a delightful sense of humour, open honesty, and is fabulously enlightening.  A great read.

book cover

Review copy not supplied by publisher - library copy reviewed.

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