By Dolly Freed
224 pages; Tin House
In her scrappy survivalist guide to frugality, Possum Living
, Dolly Freed recounts the hardscrabble years she and her father lived off bunny meat, garden veggies, and moonshine on a half-acre lot just outside Philadelphia. First published in 1978, curiously ahead of its time, and reissued this month after some 25 years out of print, this book will not only make you laugh but might actually inspire you to embrace a simpler life. Here's some of her dead-serious vintage advice: Grocery shopping:
"Many people are not aware that human food is sold in feed-and-grain stores. We buy potatoes, wheat, soybeans, and rolled oats there." Gardening:
"Mankind was successfully practicing agriculture even before metallurgy or writing, so how complicated can it be?" Foraging:
"One may now eat weeds without reproach." Hunting:
"Game is more plentiful than most people suppose. There's probably five hundred tons of it flying around in Philadelphia alone in the form of pigeon meat."
Ideology be damned, Freed says. "We live this way for a very simple reason: It's easier to learn to do without some of the things that money can buy than to earn the money to buy them."