The Last Pulp Star

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Chris Offutt talks about the life and death his father, one of America’s last adult-pulp writers, for NY Times Magazine:

In the mid-1960s, Dad purchased several porn novels through the mail. My mother recalls him reading them with disgust — not because of the content, but because of how poorly they were written. He hurled a book across the room and told her he could do better. Mom suggested he do so. According to her, the tipping point for Dad’s full commitment to porn, five years later, was my orthodontic needs.

When I was a kid, 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.


Bryan Washington has written for Puerto Del Sol, Ninth Letter, and Midnight Breakfast, among others; he's also the recipient of a Houstonia Fellowship. He lives around New Orleans. More from this author →