Prairie Fires: Chapter 8

[Prairie Fires Content Note: Racism, Settler Violence, Nazis, Child Abuse]

Prairie Fires: I started and stopped a Little House deconstruction awhile back, but the subject matter stayed with me. This book--a new and informative expose on Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane--was recommended to me so I picked it up on a lark. I was not prepared. This is a record of my live-read on Twitter.

Prairie Fires, Chapter 8

(Tweet Link: Part 3) Rose is touring Europe in the wake of a world war and briefly toys with the idea of adopting a "war orphan" but she gets and discards another boyfriend instead.

Laura is classist again, fretting that the recent women's right to vote will only be utilized by "rougher classes" of women while "home-loving home-keeping" women stay home from the polls.

Caroline dies and it is sad. I hated her in the books, but here she benefits next to everyone else being way worse. Rest in peace, Caroline.

Btw, if you're liking this live read, you've got to check out the Prairie Fires book because there's a lot of wild stuff I just don't know how to summarize. Like Rose Wilder's angsty Twilightesque self-insert sexual escapade fanfic.

Good morning, everyone. Laura resigned her column after her mother's death, writing one last paean to Caroline and another to Almanzo and that time he took her home for Christmas.

Rose ping-pongs about Europe, fetishizes Albania and Albanian men, considers adopting a 15 guide (she's...40?), and claims an Albanian bey (leader) proposes to her mid-gun battle. She becomes so absolutely annoying about her fetishization of Albania that her best friend's husband writes an Annoying White Lady caricature of her in his books and I'm here for it.

She gets... wow. Really awful.

[TW] Rose is proud of the fact that Americans killed the indigenous people over land, rather than religion, and scorns the Europeans for not having the same "clean" reasons for killing. She approves of killing! Just not the reasons.

In a deep depression, Rose goes back to Rocky Ridge and Laura. Laura is 57 years old and struggling to keep doing all the farm chores she'd done all her life; she's described as old and unwell. Rose moves into her old bedroom and turns her old Jack London stuff into a "novel" about him (instead of a biography) and fuck you, Rose, fuck you forever.

Rose hates farm life and manual labor of any kind, which tells us volumes about what kind of traveling companion she was in the Albanian mountains, I feel.

Rose refuses to save money and grows more disconnected from financial reality. "With fantastic optimism, she estimated that she could sell a hundred stories over the next five years at five hundred dollars each, an output scarcely suited to a temperamental writer." 100 stories in 5 years, at $500 each! For what would be thousands of dollars in today's money! Writers, here is the part where we throw back our heads and laugh.

Rose is outraged when Laura points out that a story might not sell, or Rose might become too sick to write or suffer an accident, etc. SPOILER: THIS WILL DEFINITELY HAPPEN?

Man, I have every mixed feeling about their relationship because Rose is basically Ayn Rand but worst, but I too would not like living with Laura? Like, I am wincingly sympathetic to the whole "MOM, I am a cosmopolitan WRITER and you married at NINETEEN and chair a bingo parlor slash masonic lodge."

I don't honestly think Rose understands her own impulses. "[Rose] was publishing a rhapsodic tribute to rural farm life in Country Gentleman, while declaring privately that her parents should sell the farm and move to England. Supremely confident in this decision, she nonetheless expressed bafflement how they could find income there." Like. 'Mom, you should sell your home and source of income (eggs, butter, etc) and move to England where you will have no income whatsoever.'

Laura runs for office and fails, so turns to writing; she asks her aunt to write down everything she can remember from childhood and send the stories back to Laura for her to use as raw material.

Rose buys her parents a Buick; Almanzo crashes it and sends Rose flying through the windshield. "Accustomed to driving a team of horses, he had braced his foot on the gas pedal while pulling back on the steering wheel, saying “Whoa!” Lane went through the windshield, leaving her with glass in her face, a crushed nose, and two black eyes." Ouch.

"In her enthusiasm, [Rose] pulled her parents into the [stock] market along with her. “Stocks are leaping around like corn in a popper,” Rose wrote to them. “Fortunately, we can’t lose.""


Rose cannot keep a dollar without spending it, but is commissioning plans for a palace and servants. "Lane paid their Russian tutor, a former architect, to design a new home on the Adriatic, in the “pure Arab style.” The sketch showed a lavish colonnaded affair with a walled garden, swimming pool, terraces, defensive gun emplacements, open courtyards, and a servants’ court."


I... I don't know how to deal with this, I am losing my shit. How do you pay your Russian tutor to design a feudal palace for you? She has no money, I have to add. She can't keep herself from spending all of it instantly.


Post a Comment