When Andrew Offutt died, his son, Chris, inherited a desk, a rifle, and eighteen hundred pounds of pornographic fiction. Andrew, a volatile man, had been considered the 'king of twentieth-century smut.' Offutt takes us on the journey with him, reading his father’s prodigious literary output as both a critic and as a son seeking answers.
Through it all, Mr. Offutt somehow manages to summon compassion for his father. That, ultimately, is what makes this memoir so unexpectedly moving ... he pities his father’s loneliness, for being sentenced to a lifetime preoccupation with torture and a headful of savage sexual fantasies, predicated on the harming of innocents.
The in-your-face title of this memoir would seem to speak for itself. What is contained in the pages, however, is much quieter and more compassionate than one might expect. It’s not only a story about pornography — in fact, not much is said about Andrew Offutt’s work until over halfway through the book. Instead, this is a meditation on Chris’s childhood, using the material found in his father’s office to gain a better understanding and a different perspective on his father than he had previously held ... Chris tells the story of his father with great care and poignancy. This isn’t the typical bitter recounting of a terrible childhood — instead, it’s melancholic and thoughtful.
Some of the chapters here are curiously disjointed, skipping back and forth between the present and the past with no discernible pattern and a kind of tonal uncertainty that leaves the reader unsure of what to make of certain passages ... 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.