we’ll live like kings, caroline! KINGS!!

nellie olson

Nellie Oleson: The original Mean Girl

Every time I move I re-read the Little House series. Some compulsion to connect major changes with my past or something, I don’t know. Or maybe moving is just stressful and beloved classic children’s literature comforts me. My father bought me the set for Christmas when I was 7 or 8. Probably at my mother’s urging.

When I was a little girl, my favorite of the series was On The Banks of Plum Creek, because that’s when Laura and Mary actually move closer to civilization and start going to school and meeting other little girls. I related to them more. Plus, when Nellie gets the leeches all over her legs, it’s pretty much the best thing that happens in the whole series.

Then when I was a teenager, I liked Little Town on the Prairie best, because they’re young women and Laura meets Almanzo and it’s all very sweet sixteen.

Now it’s a toss-up between On the Shores of Silver Lake and The Long Winter. TLW is frontier porn, pure and simple. Plus it’s when we’re introduced to grown-up Almanzo, who is a hottie. I like OtSoSL because it’s when Laura stops being a little girl, and Jack dies, and Mary is blind, and it’s all very bittersweet.

I get something new out of it every time I read. Last time was “Huh. Ma is kind of a bigot.” I don’t know why I never noticed that before. Umm, it’s not exactly subtle.

This time, I find myself wondering if Pa had some kind of mental illness that compelled him to pick up his entire family and leave with practically nothing but the clothes on their back every time he so much as smelled the smoke from a neighbor’s fireplace. Seriously, what was that about? In OtSoSL, as they’re driving into South Dakota, which hasn’t even been officially opened for settlement yet, he’s like “Fuck this popsicle stand! Let’s just keep going west!!” Dude, CHILL THE FUCK OUT.

Incidentally, apparently there’s some movement afoot by libertarians to re-brand these books as such. Rose Wilder Lane, the daughter of Laura and Almanzo and editor (some would say ghostwriter) of the books, was one of the godmothers of American Libertarianism. And libertarians are trying to claim that the vaunted American frontier “self-reliance” practiced by the Ingalls family represents their beliefs. Umm, except for how Pa only got that huge farmstead in South Dakota because the government basically gave it to him for free. After they ran off all the Native Americans.

LOLbertarians: Taking credit for everything supplied by the federal government since the 19th century.

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