And when he's doing that, it usually turns out special.
He's a graduate and former professor at the University of Iowa's famed writing program, received awards and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation and the Lanning Foundation.
In many ways, his published prose forms an influential cornerstone in 21st-century Southern and rural literature, which has been an active area full of young, talented authors over the last decade, along with writers like Daniel Woodrell and the late Larry Brown.
Yet Tom Franklin, a fellow author and professor at Ole Miss, doesn't think Offutt gets the credit he deserves for helping push the work of others toward more authentic characters and points of view.
"Here's the thing: He somehow hasn't ever been embraced by the Southern institution for some reason," Franklin said. "He's been in Iowa and the Midwest and L.A. I sort of feel like the Southern world is embracing him now in the way it hasn't before, and I do think that is a really good thing because I just think he's doing something interesting. I love the stories, love the novel and the memoirs. He's doing so many different things and all of them well."
And at a pace of about six to eight pages a day, something that makes Offutt feel like he's making the right decision.
"I'd rather sit alone in my room and feel lonely at times and know that I'm making something that is mine and is worthwhile and will live after I die," Offutt said. "If I die tomorrow, my books will be read. The television shows eventually won't be watched very much. With DVDs they'll be on people's shelves, but it's not the same as a book. There's nothing more important to me than literature."
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