My wife called me on the phone from town on this cold winter day and asked me what I was doing.
I said, I'm reading about the pornographer.
She laughed knowing the book I was reading.
I then said, when I'm not reading about the pornographer, I'm shoveling the big driveway. Then I read more about the pornographer. I go out with all the wood ashes and get them on the long pathways I've shoveled and all the ice that is again showing. I shouldn't have removed the snow. I want things neat. I'm starting to sound like the pornographer.
I had some furniture delivered. This is only the second time in six decades where I have received furniture being delivered. It never happens. I build all our furniture, but this time we saw something we liked. We did it up middle class all the way. The two delivery boys came along, on my guide of wood ash over ice, and in we were together unwrapping the furniture. Then they left, but not before we talked a bit about the Super Bowl. Me in the open doorway, the guys stalled. One won a betting pool of $250. The other chimed in he nabbed $75. I have no idea what they are talking about. They also told me the showroom where we just bought our new piece was down to a crawl for business. The owners have to talk to these guys. They're supposed to say, so I feel great when I sit on our new piece, "Business is booming." "Can't keep up!"
They leave. I read more about the pornographer. You know a serious study of the pornographer and his craft really doesn't take off in the book until 2/3rds of the way through; like old style pornography, you have to wait. Pages and pages of drivel. No drivel here. The book is really about the author, son of the pornographer, oldest son, and his mother, and his siblings, and the pornographer. Like all pornographers, he's notorious. This son writing the memoir is also good enough to be notorious.
This author has written more than one memoir but this one may be his best. I read them all as the books appeared, and his novel. Remainder stamps on most of his books.
In his other books he was circling all around himself.
In this book he circles his father, the pornographer, and this gets him closer and closer to himself.
I read some more of the new book. It has a dust jacket illustration mimicking another book about a pornographer once published by Grove Press. I read that book too in the day. I went and split a night load of stove wood. Carried it in, piled it neat by the stove, waited for my wife to return from town so we could continue the fun we were having on one of our rare phone calls, since we are rarely apart, now at home.
I plan to finish the book on the pornographer tonight during the Democratic debate. Stump speeches don't compare. Even when it's Bernie.
A T R I A B O O K S 2016
photo of chris offutt
william mebane for the new york times