Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

Southern Festival of Books: Chris Offutt (My Father, The Pornographer)

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Life can be messy.  And strange.  The brave among us try to figure some things out and share what they’ve learned.  Chris Offutt will read from his memoir My Father, The Pornographer at the Southern Festival of Books tomorrow (Friday, October 14th) from 1:00 to 2:00 in Legislative Plaza, Room 12.  Offutt has written episodes for True Blood and Weeds in addition to novels, short stories, and nonfiction.

“When I was a kid,” Offutt writes in the New York Times, “my teeth were a terrible mess: overlapping, crooked and protruding like fangs.  Mom wanted to work part time and pay for braces.  Dad suggested that if he quit his job as a salesman and she typed all his final drafts, they could finance my dental care.  Over cocktails in the woods of eastern Kentucky, they formed a partnership to mass-produce porn.”

The 1970s were a good time for the Offutts to go into business.  “The commercial popularity of American erotic novels peaked during the 1970s, coinciding with my father’s most prolific and energetic period.  Dad combined porn with all matter of genre fiction.  He wrote pirate porn, ghost porn, science fiction porn, vampire porn, historical porn, time-travel porn, secret-agent porn, thriller porn, zombie porn and Atlantis porn… By the end of the decade, Dad claimed to have single-handedly raised the quality of American pornography.”

After his father’s death, Offutt had to deal with the manuscripts and working materials left behind.  What he learned was startling in many ways.

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Offutt’s memoir has received significant attention.  From the Boston Globe:  “Offutt, the author of several critically acclaimed novels such as “Kentucky Straight,’’ has written one of the most sensitive, nuanced examinations of father and son relationships I’ve read.”  

From the Washington Post:  “In the end, the value of this haunting account lies in Chris Offutt’s refusal to find a pat moral in his journey, or to reach for some neat, bow-wrapped reconciliation.  On the contrary, Offutt concludes that ‘this undertaking hasn’t brought me closer’ to his father.  ‘If anything,’ he writes, ‘it’s a constant reminder that no matter who I think I am, I will always be my father’s son.’  This melancholy recognition is one that is shared by all of us, no matter who our fathers – or we – are.”

And from author Michael Chabon:  “Chris Offutt owns one of the finest, surest prose styles around, ready and able to convey the hardest truth without flinching.  Now Offutt enters the darkest and most mysterious of places – the cave of a monstrous enigma named Andrew J. Offutt – armed with nothing but his own restless curiosity.  Spoiler alert: He makes it out alive, walking into the daylight to bring us a deeper, funnier, more tender and more heartbroken truth – and his masterpiece.”

chris-offutt-1Here are his funny answers to the Southern Festival of Books Author Questionnaire:

What are your some of your favorite books?
Sunset City by my wife, Melissa Ginsburg.  It’s a crime novel set in Houston.
Dear Weather Ghost by Melissa Ginsburg.  It’s a book of poetry set in her mind.

What dish do you bring to a potluck dinner?
Whatever my wife makes.

What can always be found in your refrigerator?
Whatever my wife buys at Kroger.

What was your favorite book as a child?
How to Marry Well.

Tell us about your pet!
I don’t have any pets.  My wife has a dog.  Her dog has a pet dog.  That pet dog has a dog of its own.  I fear this cycle will repeat forever.

What did you learn in college, if anything?
How to make a marijuana bong from an apple.

What brings you contentment?
Eating that apple.

What do you worry about?
Running out of apples.

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I myself worry more about running out of chocolate.  Actually that has never happened.  Thanks for keeping things lively at Bacon, Chris!

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Image of Offutt from http://www.writerscast.com/chris-offutt-my-father-the-pornographer-a-memoir/

Photo credit for apple:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_alexlukin7′>alexlukin7 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

2 Comments

  1. Thanks Jennifer! I am sad to have missed Chris Offutt–and the Southern Festival of Books. I’ve just finished (and enjoyed!) Hillbilly Elegy, and will be picking up this book next to continue the Kentucky streak…no pun intended!

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