The idiosyncratic, independent life and work of Rose Wilder Lane—Laura Ingalls Wilder’s conservative daughter—gets its due in this spiky graphic biography by Bagge (Fire! The Zora Neale Hurston Story).
Bagge’s affinity for rendering characters as toothy, rubber-limbed ranters and ravers dovetails neatly with Lane’s wild emotional extremes. Born in 1886 in South Dakota, Lane was raised in the Missouri Ozarks after her parents gave up on homesteading. Restless, adventuresome, and bipolar, Lane heads to San Francisco in the early 1900s, where, after an unhappy marriage and a suicide attempt, she becomes a writer. By 1918, Lane is churning out serialized romances and fictionalized biographies (Charlie Chaplin threatened to sue over his). In the decades after, she pursues a bifurcated life: one part as a well-paid women’s magazine writer and world traveler, and another as a Missouri homebody not-so-secretly helping her ungrateful mother write the Little House on the Prairie series. Her strong libertarian turn (“F.D.R.’s ‘New Deal’ is more like a deal with the devil”) is given a sympathetic treatment by Bagge, himself a Reason
contributor. Yet while he defends her against charges of being an Ayn Rand clone, he admits she was a “conspiracy theorist embarrassingly prone to hyperbole.” This loopy, frantic, and personality-packed tribute is fitting for one of America’s lesser-known gonzo feminist writers. (Apr.)
Reviewed on 03/01/2019 |
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