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My Father, the Pornographer

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My Father, the Pornographer by Chris Offutt Book Summary:

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR In “one of the most sensitive, nuanced examinations of father and son relationships” (The Boston Globe), award-winning writer Chris Offutt struggles to understand his recently deceased father, based on his reading of the 400-plus novels his father—a well-known writer of pornography in the 1970s and 80s—left him in his will. Andrew Offutt was considered the “king of twentieth-century smut,” with a writing career that began as a strategy to pay for his son’s orthodontic needs and soon took on a life of its own, peaking during the 1970s when the commercial popularity of the erotic novel reached its height. With his dutiful wife serving as typist, Andrew wrote from their home in the Kentucky hills, locked away in an office no one dared intrude upon. In this fashion he wrote more than four hundred novels, including pirate porn, ghost porn, zombie porn, and secret agent porn. The more he wrote, the more intense his ambition became and the more difficult it was for his children to be part of his world. Over the long summer of 2013, his son, Chris, returned to his hometown to help his now widowed mother move out of his childhood home. As he began to examine his father’s manuscripts and memorabilia, journals, and letters, he realized he finally had an opportunity to gain insight into the difficult, mercurial, sometimes cruel man he’d loved and feared in equal measure. Only in his father’s absence could he truly make sense of the man and his legacy. In My Father, the Pornographer, 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. He “enters the darkest and most mysterious of places—the cave of a monstrous enigma named Andrew J. Offutt—armed with nothing but his own restless curiosity. Spoiler alert: He makes it out alive, walking into the daylight to bring us a deeper, funnier, more tender and more heartbroken truth—and his masterpiece” (Michael Chabon).

Kentucky Straight

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Kentucky Straight by Chris Offutt Book Summary:

“Personne sur ce flanc de colline n’a fini le lycée. Par ici, on juge un homme sur ce qu’il fait, pas sur ce qu’il a dans la tête. Moi, je chasse pas, je pêche pas, je travaille pas. Les voisins disent que je réfléchis trop. Ils disent que je suis comme mon père, et maman a peur que peut-être ils aient raison.”

Le Bon Frère

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Le Bon Frère by Chris Offutt Book Summary:

Dans ses collines du Kentucky, Virgil mène une existence paisible, entouré par les bois qu’il affectionne tant. Il peut à tout instant s’y enfoncer et trouver la sérénité dont il a besoin. Mais quand son frère aîné Boyd, la tête brûlée de la famille, est assassiné, Virgil doit faire face à une décision impossible. Dans les Appalaches, le sang est vengé par le sang. Et puisque tout le monde sait qui a tué Boyd, on attend la riposte de Virgil. Quelle que soit la direction qu’il choisira, sa vie en sera à jamais bouleversée. Le Bon Frère est un formidable roman sur la liberté, qui éclaire d’une lumière nouvelle la notion de frontière dans l’Ouest américain contemporain, des vallons du Kentucky aux rivières du Montana.

Country Dark

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Country Dark by Offutt Chris Book Summary:

“A smart, rich country noir” from the acclaimed author Kentucky Straight and The Good Brother (Stewart O’Nan, bestselling author of Henry, Himself). Chris Offutt is an outstanding literary talent, whose work has been called “lean and brilliant” (The New York Times Book Review) and compared by reviewers to Tobias Wolff, Ernest Hemingway, and Raymond Carver. He’s been awarded the Whiting Writers Award for Fiction/Nonfiction and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Fiction Award, among numerous other honors. His first work of fiction in nearly two decades, Country Dark is a taut, compelling novel set in rural Kentucky from the Korean War to 1970. Tucker, a young veteran, returns from war to work for a bootlegger. He falls in love and starts a family, and while the Tuckers don’t have much, they have the love of their home and each other. But when his family is threatened, Tucker is pushed into violence, which changes everything. The story of people living off the land and by their wits in a backwoods Kentucky world of shine-runners and laborers whose social codes are every bit as nuanced as the British aristocracy, Country Dark is a novel that blends the best of Larry Brown and James M. Cain, with a noose tightening evermore around a man who just wants to protect those he loves. It reintroduces the vital and absolutely distinct voice of Chris Offutt, a voice we’ve been missing for years. “[A] fine homage to a pocket of the country that’s as beautiful as it is prone to tragedy.”—The Wall Street Journal “A pleasure all around.”—Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter’s Bone

Le Musée des poissons morts

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Le Musée des poissons morts by Charles D'Ambrosio,France Camus-Pichon Book Summary:

Considéré comme l'un des maîtres de la nouvelle, Charles D'Ambrosio emporte l'adhésion par la puissance et la beauté de son écriture. Il met en scène des personnages confrontés à des relations complexes et des sentiments troubles. Graves ou ironiques, ces bribes d'existence sont autant de petits chefs-d'oeuvre. « Percer les apparences, les conventions, faire surgir l'extraordinaire sous le vernis du visible et du rebattu : Charles D'Ambrosio est une sorte de magicien de cette opération-là. »Le Monde des livres « Cette poésie des ténèbres qui ne dit pas son nom marque le lecteur et, souvent, lui brise le coeur. » Le Figaro littéraire

Mazie, sainte patronne des fauchés et des assoiffés

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Mazie, sainte patronne des fauchés et des assoiffés by Jami ATTENBERG Book Summary:

Partez à la rencontre de Mazie Phillips, inoubliable héroïne à la gouaille mordante du New York des années folles. Personnage haut en couleur, Mazie Phillips tient la billetterie du Venice, cinéma new-yorkais du Bowery, quartier populaire du sud de Manhattan où l'on croise diseuse de bonne aventure, mafieux, ouvriers, etc. Le jazz vit son âge d'or, les idylles et la consommation d'alcool – malgré la Prohibition – vont bon train. Mazie aime la vie, et ne se fait jamais prier pour quitter sa " cage " et faire la fête, notamment avec son amant " le capitaine ". Avec l'arrivée de la Grande Dépression, les sans-abri affluent dans le quartier et la vie de Mazie bascule. Elle aide sans relâche les plus démunis et décide d'ouvrir les portes du Venice à ceux qui ont tout perdu. Surnommée " la reine du Bowery ", elle devient alors une personnalité incontournable de New York. Dans ce roman polyphonique, Jami Attenberg nous fait découvrir Mazie – dont on entend la gouaille à travers les lignes de son journal intime –, mais aussi Sœur Ti, son unique amie, sa sœur Jeanie, l'agent Mack Walters, porté sur la bibine et qui aime flirter avec elle... Le lecteur découvre, fasciné, une personnalité hors du commun et tout un monde bigarré et terriblement attachant.

The Same River Twice

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The Same River Twice by Chris Offutt Book Summary:

From the critically acclaimed author of the novel The Good Brother and memoir My Father the Pornographer, Same River Twice is the second volume from an American literary star. “If you haven't read Chris Offutt, you've missed an accomplished and compelling writer” (Chicago Tribune). At the age of nineteen, Chris Offutt had already been rejected by the army, the Peace Corps, the park rangers, and the police. So he left his home in the Kentucky Appalachians and thumbed his way north—into a series of odd jobs and even stranger encounters with his fellow Americans. Fifteen years later, Offutt finds himself in a place he never thought he’d be: settled down with a pregnant wife. Writing from the banks of the Iowa River, where he came to rest, he intersperses the story of his youthful journeys with that of his journey to fatherhood in a memoir that is uniquely candid, occasionally brutal, and often wonderfully funny. As he reckons with the comforts and terrors of maturity, Offutt finally discovers what is best in life and in himself.

The Good Brother

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The Good Brother by Chris Offutt Book Summary:

From the critically acclaimed author of the collection Kentucky Straight and memoir My Father the Pornographer, The Good Brother is the finely crafted debut novel from a talent the New York Times calls “a fierce writer”. Virgil Caudill has never gone looking for trouble, but this time he's got no choice—his hell-raising brother Boyd has been murdered. Everyone knows who did it, and in the hills of Kentucky, tradition won’t let a murder go unavenged. No matter which way he chooses, Virgil will lose. The Good Brother is the story of a man’s struggle to find his real self in the wake of an impossible choice. Traversing the American landscape from the hollows of Eastern Kentucky to the plains of Montana, Offutt explores the hunger for belonging that drives our most passionate beliefs, and in the process shows himself to be one of our most powerful storytellers.

Out of the Woods

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Out of the Woods by Chris Offutt Book Summary:

From the critically acclaimed author of the novel The Good Brother and memoir My Father the Pornographer, Out of the Woods is Chris Offutt’s fiercely original short story collection the New York Times calls “a magical book”. Arriving seven years after Offutt’s debut collection Kentucky Straight, Out of the Woods returns a masterly writer to the form which garnered him not only critical praise but many prestigious awards. Offutt, who “draws landscape and constructs dialogue with the eyes and ears of a native son” (The Miami Herald), is on strong home turf here, capturing those who have left the Kentucky hills and long to return. These nine stories of gravediggers and drifters, gamblers and truck drivers a long way from home, are tales so full of hard edges they can't help but tell some hard truths.

The Pornographer's Daughter

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The Pornographer's Daughter by Kristin Battista-Frazee Book Summary:

More than forty years after Deep Throat arrived on the cultural scene and inspired a sexual revolution, questions about the ethics of pornography and its impact on society are still being asked today and remain as controversial as ever. Kristin Battista-Frazee was only four years old in 1974 when her father, Anthony Battista, was indicted by the federal government for distributing the now famous porn film Deep Throat. As her father unexpectedly became an early pioneer in the emerging porn industry and transformed himself from Philadelphia stockbroker to porn broker, this indictment threatened his family’s stability. The stress drove Kristin’s mother, Frances Battista, to worry endlessly if her husband would be put in jail. She became so depressed that she attempted suicide. Kristin survived this family trauma to live a surprisingly normal life. But instead of leaving the past behind her, she developed a burning curiosity to understand her family’s history. Why did the federal government so vehemently prosecute this case? And why did her father get involved in distributing this notorious porn film in the first place? Did the influence of pornography in fact make Kristin a better person? Answering these questions and reconciling her dramatic family history with her life as a wife and mother became her mission. The Pornographer’s Daughter is an insider’s glimpse into the events that made Deep Throat and pornography so popular, as well as what it was like to come of age against the backdrop of the pornography business.

No Heroes

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No Heroes by Chris Offutt Book Summary:

From the critically acclaimed author of the novel The Good Brother and memoir My Father the Pornographer comes the unforgettable memoir No Heroes. “If you haven’t read Chris Offutt, you’ve missed an accomplished and compelling writer” (Chicago Tribune). In his fortieth year, Chris Offutt returns to his alma mater, Morehead State University, the only four-year school in the Kentucky hills. He envisions leading the modest life of a teacher and father. Yet present-day reality collides painfully with memory, leaving Offutt in the midst of an adventure he never imagined: the search for a home that no longer exists. Interwoven with this bittersweet homecoming tale are the wartime stories of Offutt’s parents-in-law, Arthur and Irene. An unlikely friendship develops between the eighty-year-old Polish Jew and the forty-year-old Kentucky hillbilly as Arthur and Offutt share comfort in exile, reliving the past at a distance. With masterful prose, Offutt combines these disparate accounts to create No Heroes, a profound meditation on family, home, the Holocaust, and history.

The Year's Best Science Fiction: Eighteenth Annual Collection

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The Year's Best Science Fiction: Eighteenth Annual Collection by Gardner Dozois Book Summary:

The twenty-three stories in this collection imaginatively take us far across the universe, into the very core of our being, to the realm of the gods, and the moment just after now. Included here are the works of masters of the form and of bright new talents, including: Stephen Baxter, M.Shayne Bell, Rick Cook, Albert E. Cowdrey, Tananarive Due, Greg Egan, Eliot Fintushel, Peter F. Hamilton, Earnest Hogan, John Kessel, Nancy Kress, Ursula K. Le Guin, Paul J. McAuley, Ian McDonald, Susan Palwick, Severna Park, Alastair Reynolds, Lucius Shepard, Brian Stableford, Charles Stross, Michael Swanwick, Steven Utley, Robert Charles Wilson Supplementing the stories is the editor's insightful summation of the year's events and lengthy list of honorable mentions, making this book a valuable resource in addition to serving as the single best place in the universe to find stories that stir the imagination and the heart.

Nuits Appalaches

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Nuits Appalaches by Chris Offutt Book Summary:

À la fin de la guerre de Corée, Tucker, jeune vétéran de dix-huit ans, est de retour dans son Kentucky natal. En stop et à pied, il rentre chez lui à travers les collines, et la nuit noire des Appalaches apaise la violence de ses souvenirs. Sur son chemin, il croise Rhonda, quinze ans à peine, et la sauve des griffes de son oncle. Immédiatement amoureux, tous deux décident de se marier pour ne plus jamais se quitter. Tucker trouve un boulot auprès d’un trafiquant d’alcool de la région, et au cours des dix années qui suivent, malgré leur extrême précarité, les Tucker s’efforcent de construire un foyer heureux : leurs cinq enfants deviennent leur raison de vivre. Mais quand une enquête des services sociaux menace la famille, les réflexes de combattant de Tucker se réveillent. Acculé, il découvrira le prix à payer pour défendre les siens.

Le Motel du voyeur

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Le Motel du voyeur by Gay Talese Book Summary:

Le 7 janvier 1980, Gay Talese reçoit à son domicile new-yorkais une lettre anonyme en provenance du Colorado. Le courrier débute ainsi : "Je crois être en possession d'informations importantes qui pourraient vous être utiles." L'homme, Gerald Foos, confesse dans cette missive un secret glaçant : voyeur, il a acquis un motel à Denver dans l'unique but de le transformer en "laboratoire d'observation". Avec l'aide de son épouse, il a découpé dans le plafond d'une douzaine de chambres des orifices rectangulaires de 15 centimètres sur 35, puis les a masqués avec de fausses grilles d'aération lui permettant de voir sans être vu. Il a ainsi épié sa clientèle pendant plusieurs décennies, annotant dans le moindre détail ce qu'il observait et entendait - sans jamais être découvert. A la lecture d'un tel aveu, Gay Talese se décide à rencontrer l'homme. Au travers des notes et des carnets du voyeur, matériau incroyable découpé, commenté et reproduit en partie dans l'ouvrage, l'écrivain va percer peu à peu les mystères du Manor House Motel. Le plus troublant d'entre eux : un meurtre non résolu, digne d'une scène de Psychose, auquel le voyeur assisterait, impuissant. Le voyeur exige l'anonymat; l'écrivain, soucieux de toujours livrer les véritables identités de ses personnages, s'en tient aux prémices de son enquête. Trente-cinq ans plus tard, Gerald Foos se décide à rendre publique sa machination et Gay Talese peut enfin publier ce livre dérangeant et fascinant. Le Motel du Voyeur interroge aussi, à travers la figure de Gerald Foos, étrange double pervers de l'auteur, la position du journaliste qui scrute le réel en observateur - en voyeur. Au-delà du fait divers, cette plongée hallucinante dans la psyché américaine, parcourt une sociologie criminelle des moeurs, et s'avère être le plus parfait des romans noirs, à mi-chemin du chef-d'oeuvre de Truman Capote De sang-froid et du Journaliste et l'Assassin de Janet Malcolm. Gênant, passionnant, troublant, autant le dire , roman ou enquête, vous j'avez jamais lu un tel livre.

The Pornographer's Tragedy

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The Pornographer's Tragedy by David Conway Book Summary:

PORNOGRAPHY + POLITICS = POWER. An eruption of sacrilegious slaughter -- a symbolic reign of terror unleashed by a mysterious assassin known only as the Samaritan -- exposes a vicious underworld of sadistic depravity, ritual obscenity and quintessential evil lurking beneath the civilised veneer of metropolitan London. Investigating the slayings with the help of Dr. Cassandra Stark, an enigmatic and brilliant psychiatrist, Detective Inspector James Verlaine is plunged into an infernal nightmare of snuff pornography, political corruption and a labyrinthine conspiracy dedicated to a monstrous totalitarian agenda. And when he finally discovers the Samaritan's true identity Verlaine must confront the insidious power wielded by a secret elite that operates above the law -- and a sinister technology designed to enslave the minds of millions ...

Plateforme

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Plateforme by Michel Houellebecq Book Summary:

Mon père est mort il y a un an. Je ne crois pas à cette théorie selon laquelle on devient réellement adulte à la mort de ses parents ; on ne devient jamais réellement adulte. Devant le cercueil du vieillard, des pensées déplaisantes me sont venues. Il avait profité de la vie, le vieux salaud ; il s'était démerdé comme un chef. T'as eu des gosses, mon con... me dis-je avec entrain ; t'as fourré ta grosse bite dans la chatte à ma mère. Enfin j'étais un peu tendu, c'est certain ; ce n'est pas tous les jours qu'on a des morts dans sa famille. J'avais refusé de voir le cadavre. J'ai quarante ans, j'ai déjà eu l'occasion de voir des cadavres ; maintenant, je préfère éviter. C'est ce qui m'a toujours retenu d'acheter un animal domestique. Je ne me suis pas marié, non plus. J'en ai eu l'occasion, plusieurs fois ; mais à chaque fois j'ai décliné. Pourtant, j'aime bien les femmes. C'est un peu un regret, dans ma vie, le célibat. C'est surtout gênant pour les vacances, Les gens se méfient des hommes seuls en vacances, à partir d'un certain âge : ils supposent chez eux beaucoup d'égoïsme et sans doute un peu de vice ; je ne peux pas leur donner tort.

Pulphead

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Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan Book Summary:

Lire les chroniques de Pulphead, c’est grimper à bord d’un camping-car de neuf mètres de long pour rejoindre les ados d’un festival de rock chrétien. C’est dormir sous le même toit qu’un vieux fou, le dernier des Agrarians, chef de file des écrivains du sud des États-Unis. S’interroger sur l’art en sifflant des cocktails dans une boîte branchée aux côtés du Miz, star de la téléréalité. Croiser la solitude de Michael Jackson ou celle des sans-abris après Katrina. C’est se demander pourquoi Axl Rose, né au milieu de nulle part, est devenu Axl Rose, le chanteur des Guns N’Roses. Se frayer un chemin dans une manifestation pour protester contre la réforme du système de santé américain. C’est, dans la fumée jamaïquaine, à Kingston, distinguer les dreadlocks de Bunny Wailer, l’unique survivant du groupe de Bob Marley. S’enfoncer dans des grottes du Tennessee à la recherche des origines de l’homme. C’est aussi écouter en boucle un blues des années 30, pour essayer de retrouver, malgré le disque rayé, un mot inaudible perdu quelque part dans l’histoire. En quatorze chroniques détonantes, John Jeremiah Sullivan décline sa quête de l’identité américaine, fouillant dans les entrailles de sa culture pop, scientifique, underground ou littéraire pour répondre à des questions universelles : Qui sommes-nous ? De quoi sommes-nous faits ? Si sa plume l’élève au rang des hérauts du nouveau journalisme, John Jeremiah Sullivan a su trouver son propre regard, dans lequel l’intelligence, la curiosité et le charme le disputent à une bienveillance stupéfiante pour ses contemporains.