Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Book Review: Credo: The Rose Wilder Lane Story by Peter Bagge

You should know by now that I am a HUGE Laura Ingalls Wilder fan. HUGE. I've taken a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on her, I've been to her house, and my youngest sister is named Laura (not a coincidence). I haven't known much about Rose until more recent years, and this is a fun, odd, and much-needed graphic biography of her. After reading Prairie Fires by Caroline Frasier, I was pretty well convinced that Rose was a grade-A nutjob. I'm glad this book tells things from her perspective, as rarely is a person just a crazy basket case without more to the story.

First of all, her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder, was a difficult mother: demanding, cheap, and grumpy. And as an only child, she had no one to share the burden with. Then her own life didn't go remotely as expected. From an early marriage that didn't work out to losing a baby and having a hysterectomy, meaning no children ever, to becoming a famous writer and friends with influential people across the twentieth century, I hadn't given either the difficulties or achievements in her life much weight. In her lifetime, she was the highest-paid woman journalist/writer with many bestsellers. She even went to Vietnam in her 70s to write about that war. Very well-traveled, she kept trying to get away but was always inextricably pulled back home to Mansfield, Missouri. She was inspired by, helped with, and felt sidelined by her mother's books. Even though she unofficially adopted several young men, she never seemed to fulfill her maternal drive. A famous contrarian and libertarian, she hung out with Ayn Rand.

Graphic biographies are, by their nature, accessible and concise. If you're a Wilder fan and/or have heard of Rose and want to know more, or just want to see what life was like for a famous woman writer from the Midwest in the first half of the twentieth century, this is a great book.

This book is published by Drawn & Quarterly, which is distributed by Macmillan, my employer.

No comments: