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Free-Fire Zone

Roseanne lets loose with “Roseannearchy: Dispatches From the Nut Farm,” a rapid grab-bag book.

Roseanne Barr’s new book “Roseannearchy: Dispatches from the Nut Farm,” published by the Gallery imprint of Simon & Schuster Jan. 4, is a mixed bag of razor-sharp rants, autobiography, political commentary and stream-of-consciousness feminism that sometimes hits its marks, and other times gets lost in tangents.

With its cover photo of Roseanne in Che Guevara gear toting a rifle and bombs dropping in the background, the book finds her playing her personality to the hilt, just as she did in her last HBO special four years ago, “Blonde and Bitchin’” (see review, 11/2/06). At almost 300 pages, “Roseannearchy” is a substantial and jam-packed book, certainly.

The best bits come in the middle, with chapters on sex, Barr’s showbiz experiences and the true story of her national anthem singing misfire. Some chapters are pure storytelling, others are like extended stand-up pieces, as with “S-E-X, Do We HAVE to Talk About It?” In this chapter she takes on cougars, younger women with older men and the Viagra-industrial complex. An example – “I’ve always thought that just about the lamest thing you can call sexual activity is ‘making love,’” she writes. “Give me a break. Two horny, slobbering, thrashing human rolling around on top of each other are not ‘making love.’”

Barr recalls some of the lesser known pioneering moments of her shorter-lived follow-up to her hit sitcom, the syndicated talk show titled “The Roseanne Show,” which she says deserves credit for a lot of today’s reality TV landscape, having aired “plus-size beauty contests, plus-size talent contests, a ‘Date My Daughters’ segment, Judge Roseanne, rehab shows, hemp cooking shows. ..” Barr writes. “I got used to seeing ideas I thought of get picked up and copied, and I was actually thrilled about it. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

She dishes on her ex-husband Tom Arnold at points, but blames herself equally for the problems in their marriage and its failure. Barr writes about their co-dependent nature and miscommunications that actually contributed to what she calls her “singing accident” and its aftermath.

“Roseannearchy,” as you might guess from these instances, does veer wildly across Barr’s past and her views, but like its author’s cover pose, when firing widely and strafing with bombs, enough of the ammunition is going to hit targets to be effective. In this case, though, the effect is laughter.




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