I don’t expect much from trashy biographies. I don’t buy them for artistic merit; I want dirt. I’m also not easily shocked. I have a filthy mouth (in appropriate circumstances, granted), I love John Waters movies, and in my college days I even tolerated a Borders coworker playing entire Frank Zappa albums overnight while we stocked shelves. I am certainly no prude. When I pick up a book like this, I want the sordid, salacious, shocking details.
I decided recently that I should be reading more non-fiction. Surely history, travel guides, and memoirs would offer me a much more broad experience in the human condition than made-up stories. I love reading fiction, but I wanted to learn and to grow. I also wanted to read something high-brow. So, of course, my first choice was the biography of Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson on Little House on the Prairie.
Angela’s Ashes it is not, but that is not Arngrim’s fault. We can’t all have the luxury of growing up poor in Ireland just to write a best-seller. She works with what she has, though. And it is a surprisingly good read.