(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

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Roseanne Barr was born to a lower-middle-class Jewish family living in Salt Lake City. She stayed there, in the center of all that is Mormon, for eighteen years, isolated by her religion from those around her, and isolated by the sociopolitical structure that was Utah from much of what might be termed the mainstream of American life.

When she was nineteen, having survived being hit by an automobile and a subsequent session in a mental hospital, Barr joined that vast group--inspired in equal measure by Jack Kerouac’s ON THE ROAD and the movie EASY RIDER--who abandoned home and family for a life unhampered by convention and traditional morality. She found refuge in a small town in the Rocky Mountains outside Denver, where she married, gave birth to her children, and functioned--for a time--as a housewife and mother.

In 1980, Barr discovered the women’s movement and realized that she had a talent for comedy. After working in various clubs in Denver she listened to her sister and made the necessary professional move to Los Angeles. In Los Angeles she perfected her comedic skills to the extent that she was invited to perform on the “Tonight Show.” This exposure launched a career which led to her appearance in a highly successful television series.

In her introduction, Barr asserts that the story of her life is such that it “fills about thirty-five pages” and beyond that there is “not much to say.” Such is indeed the case, in that most of the interest of the book lies in the relatively few pages--perhaps one-fifth of the whole--in which Barr fulfills the task of an autobiographer. As for the rest, the reader is presented with copies of letters written by Barr, at age twelve and fifteen, recipes, advice for those who would be slim and those who would not be so, and random comments concerning the state of contemporary feminism, sexism in America, and the relative failure of the last two presidential administrations to adopt policies of which she approves. It is to be hoped that, having completed this particular exercise, Barr will apply her obvious talents to the creation of the book this might have been if she had given it the necessary time and effort.