Brooklyn Fit Chick's Book Review Dance Party!
Confessions of a Prairie Bitch, Lips Unsealed, Shelf Discovery
Usually summer means I spend every chance I can on my bike enjoying the wonders of a hot and sunny NYC. This girl is just too wimpy to handle riding outside during the nasty winter months so every bright day means stealing as much time as possible on two wheels.
But these past two weekends have been hot as balls and no amount of money or promises of free booze afterwards can get me out there. (Oh, the sangrias in Red Hook are sooooooooo good...)
So what does a gal do when its too hot to play outside and the summer TV offerings are beyond lame? Why curl up on the couch, crank up the AC to 11 and read through books with the fury of my super-angsty teen years to fuel me, that's what! And this past weekend gave me three reads so damn enjoyable that I had to pass them along.
Here they are!
CONFESSIONS OF A PRAIRIE BITCH:
How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated
What a treat this is! If you are are not familiar with Little House on the Prairie and the notorious character "Nellie Olsen" who was played to perfection by Alison Arngrim--what can I say? Go to Netflix and check out a few seasons. (And by the way, have you been under a rock the last 20 years?)
A couple of years ago I attended Alison's one-woman show--"Confessions of a Prairie Bitch" here in New York City with my friends Ron & Erin and it was a total hoot! Not only is she sharp and funny with a terrific memory for details--but she was just so warm and friendly as well. In fact Alison was nice enough to pose for a picture, see!
(I'm the one with the bitchin' tattoo.)
Alison's biography is a fast, enjoyable read where she recounts the joys of being raised by her rather "flamboyant" parents, working with the rowdy cast of Little House (including the snooty Melissa Sue Anderson who seems to have a permanent pole up her backside,) plus Alison's tireless work on behalf of those who suffer from AIDS. (Did you know that actor Steve Tracey, who played Nellie's husband "Percival" died from the disease in 1986?)
CONFESSIONS also has it fair share of surprises and revelations including Alison opening up about the sexual abuse she suffered from a family member for several years which left her emotionally scarred and brought on a "paralyzing shyness' that took years to overcome. During the day she was an envied child star working on one of the most popular shows on the planet. But her evenings and weekends were filled with dread and the constant fear of being abused again.
In the end this is a survivor's tale and the actress and activist uses her fame in order to shed light on tough subjects and give incest and sexual abuse victims a voice in the state and national legal system. Go Alison!
CONFESSIONS also features cool insider-y tidbits about her fellow cast members including real-life BFF Melissa Gilbert, her mischievous co-star Jonathan Gilbert who played her little brother Willie and once asked his TV sister after they acted in a funeral scene together "So who died?", Michael Landon ("Pa")and his livin' large attitude and my favorite story, the absolute dopiness of the mother of Lindsay/Sidney Greenbush who was tacky enough to remark about Alison's breast developing in front of the cast and crew (what a moron!)
Again, a great read but I recommend if you can also see Alison perform live-- do so. She is a gifted raconteur and there is an interactive section where you can try on one of the "Nellie" wigs yourself!
Here is Alison's official web site with upcoming tour dates
I will leave you with this clip some genius uploaded to You Tube featuring the best scenes between Nellie and Laura from Little House On the Prairie. Magnifique!
Like most people who were fans of the Go-Go's back in the 80's--I assumed they were a bunch of sweet, sassy, innocent girls who just happened to form a band and get famous. Yes they were technically "rock stars" with magazine covers and big hit singles but they didn't act like maniacs backstage or cause any shenanigans on tour buses like say, Van Halen or Motley Crue. Boy was I wrong. VERY wrong.
Belinda Carlisle's autobiography--Lips Unsealed is a very thorough retelling her of the nearly epic level of drinking and drug-taking that the all-female band would partake in before, during and after their gigs. Oh, and they just happen to star in a sex tape with a male roadie that is legendary in the show business world (read the book to get the details.)
But Belinda's drug taking did not decrease after entering into a happy marriage with the very patient Morgan Mason. Nor did it subside after becoming a mother. Or after having a successful solo career. Or after moving to the South of France to get away from the Hollywood scene. This book truly gives an intense perspective on the nature of addiction and how difficult it is to break a habit even though it is killing you physically, emotionally and spiritually. (Did I mention how patient her husband is?)
Happily her life now is about serenity and sobriety and she and Morgan can truly enjoy one another unconditionally and drug haze-free. (How she kept this secret from him for so long is truly astounding. You have heard he is a patient guy, yes?)
But this is not a tough slog of a book. Belinda had plenty of fun times in her career and there is some really good dish in there about the cute boys she and her band mates dated. I also enjoyed reading how her mother created and sewed her first "punk" stage outfits--so cute!
Unfortunately the band is not touring at this time as one of the Go Go's is having serious knee issues and needs to rest and rehabilitate. Hopefully next year, please!
In case you are curious this is Belinda's official web site.
I will end this review with a clip of my all-time favorite Go-Go's song ever: "Head Over Heels." (I play this in my classes all the time and it's always greeted with a big "woo hoo" from my students!)
The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading: A Reading Memoir
Oh my GAWD I love this book so much! Lizzie Skurnick is a writer, critic and overall book lover who has a really amazing blog called "The Old Hag" and occasionally produces essays for my favorite gossip site Jezebel. Her essays are deep, thoughtful meditations on the favorite books from her tween and teen years and she treats them with reverence and respect.
SHELF DISCOVERY is over 400 pages of the best damned collection of books that were mostly published in the 70's and 80's (oh how I love the cover art for some of these babies!) and seems to have been created just for me. I mean Lizzie has them ALL here from V.C. Andrews to Judy Blume. We are reminded about the scary works of Richard Peck (Are You in the House Alone?) and the phoniness and crapitude that was Go Ask Alice.
Curling up with a book about books might seem strange to some people but it felt like I was having drinks with an old friend. Go get SHELF DISCOVERY and see for yourself. You will thank me later.
But heed this warning: Be careful if you are near a computer or laptop when reading it because you may just wind up spending a bloody fortune on Amazon.com buying used books left and right. (Or so I hear...)
Now get out there this weekend and find some groovy books to read for yourself. That's an order!
Brooklyn Fit Chick