Pornography paid for Chris Offutt’s childhood orthodontic care, his football, and later, his mother’s philosophy degree and master’s in English. On Sunday, February 8, New York Times Magazine will print an essay from award-winning author and Kentucky native Chris Offutt, entitled, “My Dad, the Pornographer,” an adaptation of his forthcoming memoir on the topic.
Offutt’s father, Andrew Offutt, a science fiction and fantasy writer, who later transitioned to a prolific career writing pornography, died in 2013, with more than 400 published books to his credit (many of them under pseudonyms). He left the “examination of the office and disposal of its contents,” to son Chris, who meticulously went through his archives, which the movers estimated to weigh in at close to a ton, and which included decades of collected magazines and catalogs, dozens of file folders filled with porn, along with 30 unpublished novels.
The New York Times Magazine article is adapted from Chris Offutt’s upcoming memoir about his father’s career writing pornography.
Offutt grew up in an Eastern Kentucky small town that no longer has a zip code — the offspring of Depression-era parents. His mother attended Transylvania University. His father graduated from the University of Louisville on a Ford Foundation Scholarship, with an English degree and his own literary aspirations. A job in sales transferred him to Lexington, and Chris’s parents met at a Catholic-school dance, married, and started a family (Chris was born at the old St. Joseph’s). Then they bucked the trend — leaving Lexington and a new ranch house for the hills of Eastern Kentucky at a time when everyone else was abandoning Appalachia to find work. Chris was five. Though his father found success selling insurance, he eventually left the field to pursue his initial dream of writing — science fiction at first, and later, as the 70s sexual revolution created increasing market demand, pornography. His last book was published in 1992 (all are out of print today), the same year Chris Offutt’s first book was published.
Chris Offutt is the author of Kentucky Straight (1992), The Same River Twice, The Good Brother, Out of the Woods (1999), and No Heroes. He also wrote for HBO’s True Blood, Showtime’s Weeds, and HBO’s Treme.
Click here to read Chris Offutt’s essay, “Like Father, Like Son: Or How Porn Bought My Football and Other Literary Legacies,” (Ace coverstory, 1.5.2006) Click here to read a 1998 Ace interview with Offutt shortly after he’d returned to Kentucky to live in Rowan County and teach at Morehead State University’s writing program.