My Father, the Pornographer

My Father, the Pornographer

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Overview

In My Father, the Pornographer, Chris Offutt takes us on the journey of reading his father's prodigious literary output as both a critic and as a son seeking answers. Contains mature themes.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781515954866
Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date: 05/24/2016
Edition description: MP3 - Unabridged CD
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Chris Offutt is an award-winning author and screenwriter who worked on the HBO drama True Blood and the Showtime series Weeds. His books include Kentucky Straight, The Same River Twice, The Good Brother, Out of the Woods, and No Heroes: A Memoir of Coming Home.

Jonathan Yen was inspired by the Golden Age of Radio, and while the gold was gone by the time he got there, he's carried that inspiration through to commercial work, voice acting, and stage productions. From vintage Howard Fast science fiction to naturalist Paul Rosolie's true adventures in the Amazon, Jonathan loves to tell a good story.

Read an Excerpt

My Father, the Pornographer
MY FATHER grew up in a log cabin near Taylorsville, Kentucky. The house had twelve-inch walls with gun ports to defend against attackers, first Indians, then soldiers during the Civil War. At age twelve, Dad wrote a novel of the Old West. He taught himself to type with the Columbus method—find it and land on it—using one finger on his left hand and two fingers on his right. Dad typed swiftly and with great passion. He eventually wrote and published more than four hundred books under eighteen different names. His novels included six science fiction, twenty-four fantasy, and one thriller. The rest was pornography.

When I was nine, Dad gave me his childhood copy of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. The old hardback was tattered, the boards held by fraying strips of fabric, the pages pliant and soft. It is a coming-of-age narrative about thirteen-year-old Jim Hawkins, who discovers a secret map, leaves England, and returns with a large share of pirate treasure. I loved the fast-paced story and the bravery of young Jim.

On paper cut from a brown grocery sack, I carefully drew an island with a coastline, water, and palm trees. A dotted line led to a large red X. My mother suggested I show the map to my father. Dad wiped coffee on the paper and wadded it up several times, which made it seem older. He used matches to ignite the edges of the map, then quickly extinguished the flame. This produced a charred and ragged border that enhanced the map’s appearance, as if it had barely survived destruction. Because of the fire involved, we were alone outside, away from my younger siblings. Dad was selling insurance at the time, rarely home, his attention always focused elsewhere. I enjoyed the sense of closeness, a shared project.

Dad said that he drew maps for most of the books he wrote, and I resolved that if I ever published a book, I’d include a map. Twenty years later I did. In 1990 I called my father with the news that Vintage Contemporaries was publishing Kentucky Straight, my first book. A long silence ensued as Dad digested the information.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“What do you mean?” I said.

“I didn’t know I’d given you a childhood terrible enough to make you a writer.”

His own father wrote short stories in the 1920s. During the Depression, my grandfather was forced to abandon his literary ambitions to save the family farm and pursue a more practical education in engineering. He died young, a year before my father published his first story. Dad never knew what it was like to have a proud father and didn’t know how to be one himself.

After the publication of Kentucky Straight, people began asking Dad what he thought of my success. Buried in the question was the implication that the son had outdone the father. My work was regarded as serious literature, whereas he wrote porn and science fiction. Twice I witnessed someone insinuate that Dad should be envious. Invariably my father had the same response. His favorite adventure novel was The Three Musketeers, in which young D’Artagnan wins respect through his magnificent swordplay, taught to him by his father. Every time someone asked Dad about my success as a writer, he said he was happy to be D’Artagnan’s sword master, voicing pride in my accomplishments but taking credit for them, as well. It was as close as he ever came to telling me how he felt about my work.

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