Wednesday, April 13, 2016

More Laura Ingalls Wilder

Facebook reminded me that five years ago today, I blogged about my interest in (read: obsession with) Laura Ingalls Wilder. What I don't understand is why I didn't mention The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure, which, as far as I remember, was the reason I wrote the blogpost in the first place. Unless maybe I didn't have the book yet, just wanted it? In any case, I have it now, and I've bought myself one more book since then and received another two, so I definitely need to update.

The Wilder Life was written by someone who actually makes me look only mildly interested in Laura, yet, in another in, if I lived in the United States and had the time and money, well...I would have loved to research and write this book myself! It was a fun, light-hearted read, with no new information for me about Laura, but enjoyable going on the journeys of exploration with the author.

Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, edited by Pamela Smith Hill, was my birthday gift to myself a year ago. It was exactly what I'd been wanting for at least 35 years, and even better. What really amused me was how many of the negative reviews on amazon convinced me that I would probably love it, and I was right. "Too many footnotes" was my favorite comment--that was what I WANTED! And there were people who complained because it destroyed their picture of the original Little House books as absolute fact, people who complained that it gave Rose too much credit, people who complained that it didn't give Rose ENOUGH credit, people who complained that it was "just a rough draft," people who pointed out that a facsimile of the original rough draft is available for the cost of photocopying, etc. I don't understand why those people bought the book in the first place, because none of those were hidden issues in the book description! As for the people who complained that it wasn't like the TV show...there's just no answer. In any case, I absolutely loved it. AND, for the first time in many, many years, I actually learned new things about Laura and her family!! Okay, not very many, to be honest, but a few. ;-) The absolute only drawback that I found with this book is that it is huge, and therefore, can't be read in bed, as it's far too dangerous if I drop it on my face. (Or on my sleeping husband's face...)

Laura Ingalls Wilder: a Family Collection and Little House in the Ozarks are both collections of Laura's writings for newspapers and farm magazines and there is a lot of overlap, but they're both worth having (for a die-hard fan, anyway!), and are organized quite differently. I'd read a very few of these articles previously, so it was quite exciting to have so much new-to-me information.

The Family Collection consists of about 80 articles Laura wrote for the Missouri Ruralist between 1911 and 1918, but is arranged by theme, and none of the articles are dated, which is a little frustrating to me. It does say that they are arranged chronologically within each section, though. And at the end of each thematic section there are a few footnotes.

Little House in the Ozarks, is likewise organized by topic, but does not keep the articles in chronological order, although each article is dated! I'm pretty sure that most or all of the Ruralist articles in the other book are also in this one, but this book continues through 1925 and has nearly 150 articles altogether. There are a few footnotes throughout, on the relevant pages rather than collected at the end.

I see no need for yet another collection of the same articles, but if I were to be the editor of one, I would keep it strictly chronological, with the date and location of publication on each article. I prefer the footnotes on the relevant pages, as in Ozarks, but don't like the quotation boxes (there's probably a more technical term than that!) throughout and would have the layout more like in Family. And I would include photos, which neither of them do!

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