Finding Dolly Freed
January 11, 2010 9:58 AM   Subscribe

Finding Dolly Freed by Paige Williams. "In 1978, at age eighteen, she wrote Possum Living, a frugal-living book that made her briefly famous amid an infamous economy. Then she went off the grid in the most unexpected of ways—she went mainstream. Now Dolly—and her book—are back." posted by chunking express (15 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
I have FPP envy.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:04 AM on January 11, 2010

Just saw this in City Paper or maybe PW. In any case, interesting post. I'm extra curious becuase I'm about the same age as her and I'm interested in what that un-named suburb just north of Philly might be. Bristol? Andalusia? HV? Abington?
posted by fixedgear at 10:22 AM on January 11, 2010

Great story. Thanks, chunking express.
posted by Zed at 10:35 AM on January 11, 2010

Thanks you for this post! This book was in my high school library, and I was just fascinated by it. "Possum Living" has been a shorthand among my friends for frugal living since then.
posted by seventyfour at 10:44 AM on January 11, 2010

I enjoyed the story and I kicked a couple of bucks Williams's way.

That said, laying out $2,000 on a spec story is not the way to make a living as a freelance journalist. Yikes!
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:59 AM on January 11, 2010

She sounds dead interesting. I'm not so into the bunny-as-meat philosophy, but let's face it, that's the least of what keeps me a die-hard consumer.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:59 AM on January 11, 2010

Dolly left home not for fear of becoming an outlaw like her father; she left mostly because she was young and bored with possum living and because she couldn’t help thinking about the possibilities of a future beyond Pennsburg.
PENNSBURG, PA looks more like "south of Allentown" than "north of Philadelphia" to me but why quibble.
posted by Hammond Rye at 11:22 AM on January 11, 2010

Great story! Although, I'm not a huge fan of the footnotes. I'm glad she published it somehow, and it was a good lesson in how much money and time and people it takes to write a magazine piece which I never realized before.
posted by bluefly at 11:25 AM on January 11, 2010

We can't all be NASA burnouts like Frank can we?

I assume the comforts he rejected have evolved from a drive to accomodate a family, and the material attachments we take on cushion us in very necessary emotional ways from unibomber-shack craziness.

early retirement sounds nice but don't get carried away.
posted by Hammond Rye at 11:50 AM on January 11, 2010

Thanks for this, I loved Possum Living for the sense of security it gave me. At the time I was consumed with worry about dropping out of grad school and oh god what will happen to me if I can't keep up with my peers? and reading this gave me this sense that there's always a way to keep on surviving. I haven't adopted any of the things she described in the book but the sense that I could if I had to helped me out a lot.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:59 AM on January 11, 2010

Thanks, Hammond Rye. I live in the same county (it's a pretty big county) and it's still pretty country-fied out there.
posted by fixedgear at 12:04 PM on January 11, 2010

I was totally fascinated by Possum Living (I saw a film about it) in high school. Awesome!
posted by Ouisch at 3:42 PM on January 11, 2010

It's a great story but I can see why it didn't get published. It really needs an edit and it takes ages to get to the nut graf that tells you why you should care to read the rest of it. If you're already familiar with Possum Living, you'd want to read on-- but if not, it's really difficult, or at least was really difficult for me, get into. It rewards you if you do-- but I think you need to lead the reader along better, particularly in these days of great distraction.

But good on her for getting support and attention to journalism and how time-consuming and expensive it can be to do it right-- and I hope she recoups her costs and more.
posted by Maias at 5:19 PM on January 11, 2010

Freakin excellent! my copy is almost unreadable now, but still ranks up there in personally formative books with Journey to Ixtlan, the Collected Stories of Ambrose Bierce, Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, and The Secret teachings of All Ages. I try not to be too concerned about the sources of my edutainment, but it's nice to hear she's doing well
posted by Redhush at 8:33 PM on January 11, 2010

I just noticed Possum Living was previously discussed on the blue.
posted by Zed at 5:00 PM on February 3, 2010

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