Sunday, January 31, 2010 5:00pm ET over at FDL.

Mistress of the Misunderstood

Dotty Oliver

Chat with Dotty Oliver about her new book. Hosted by Warwick Sabin.

Accepting her role as the “Mistress of the Misunderstood,” Dotty Oliver was always struggling against injustice with her Arkansas alternative newspaper using humor mixed with a strong dose of empathy. From the Arkansas backwoods living in a rock and roll commune with seventies band Black Oak Arkansas, to the streets of Amsterdam, and even to Burning Man and beyond, her adventures lend her writing a lens much broader than a typical static southern childhood. Always bringing these new perspectives back to bolster the spirits of her faithful readers, she provided inspiration and just enough journalistic moxie to spur citizens along their individual crusades, assuring them they could make a difference. A recent reviewer in the Lovely County Citizen said she was a cross between Gloria Steinem and Hunter S. Thompson with a hint of Mark Twain thrown in for good measure.

Building a readership of 100,000 while publishing a newspaper with column titles like “What If Women Hadn’t Worn Earth Shoes,” “Why I Love Black People,” “Faith-Based Sadomasochism” and “I Was Born for Lithium,” her commentary never lacked an element of surprise and touched on many social justice issues. This is a collection of columns and stories that includes her account of a 1999 lawsuit by Governor Mike Huckabee. This Arkansas history, as captured from the wildly imaginative Mistress of the Misunderstood, blurs the lines between fact and fiction and challenges preconceived ideas regarding journalism, southern politics, truth and good taste. Cultural icons such as John Sinclair have always followed her reporting, even prior to the evolution of the blogosphere, with Sinclair encouraging her to capture her writings in book form.

Dotty Oliver, author of “Mistress of the Misunderstood,” has won many awards with her alternative paper, The Arkansas Free Press, including the Sierra Club’s “Outstanding Environmental Journalism” award and Arkansas AIDS Foundation’s “Most Compassionate Media” accolades. After closing the newspaper down during the meltdown of 2008, she started Dottyllama Publishing, which will be dedicated to publishing the history of Arkansas’s alternative culture.




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