Sunday, January 28, 2018

Caroline Fraser

Caroline Fraser's new biography Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, is a finalist for the National Book Critic Circle Award. From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: What first got you interested in writing a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder?

A: I first thought about it seriously when I was working on the chronology and notes for the Library of America edition of the Little House books, which I edited. As I was writing those materials, I kept coming across such fascinating stuff in the history she lived through, and it made me want to learn more.

There were all these tantalizing clues in the letters she wrote to her daughter, Rose, about the Dust Bowl and the Depression, about the history of the locust outbreaks and drought on the Great Plains, and even the ways in which her work for the federal government, as secretary/treasurer for the National Farm Loan Association, somehow evolved into her disdain for the New Deal.

The more I learned, the more I felt readers might respond to the historical background of Wilder’s life. There was a moment when I was writing a note about the “Minnesota massacre,” as Wilder calls it in Little House on the Prairie, when I was reading about the history of the U.S. Dakota War of 1862.

And I just thought...[read on]
The Page 99 Test: Rewilding the World.

--Marshal Zeringue