by Roseanne Arnold
Roseanne Arnold may indeed have 20 separate personalities, as she claims in this, her second autobiography (the first, Roseanne: My Life as a Woman, appeared in 1989). But only one of them—the vindictive Roseanne—showed up to write it. Packed with more pop psychology than Oprah
during sweeps week, My Lives reads like the transcript of a hellish therapy session, excoriating everyone whom Arnold feels turned her into a diva of dysfunction.
A few are spared: Johnny Carson, who gave the comedian her big break, comes across as fatherly, while husband Tom Arnold's monstrous cocaine use is excused because as a child he was treated with Ritalin for attention-deficit syndrome. But others are vilified, including first husband Bill Pentland ("For our honeymoon, we went to his friend's house, and he got drunk while I sat on the bed and watched"), her sitcom co-creator Mall Williams and various network bosses with "veiny, reticulated faces."
The biggest bogeyman is her father, Jerry Barr, whose alleged molestation of young Roseanne is recounted as a recovered memory. Which would be fine if My Lives were nearly as funny and moving as Roseanne's highly rated TV show. It isn't, though it does zing along, driven by her defiant, blue-collar bluntness. To accept My Lives as a heartfelt rationalization of Arnold's bizarre antics, you have to agree with her credo: "The world makes you into a bitch, no matter how quietly you go, so you may as well go kicking and screaming." (Ballanline, $23)