Len Fulton, 1934–2011

Butte County has lost one of its finest citizen-politicians of the 20th century

A memorial service for Len Fulton will be held Friday, July 29, beginning at noon at the Terry Ashe Center in Paradise.

With the death of Len Fulton last Sunday (July 24) from cancer, Butte County lost one of its finest citizen-politicians of the 20th century. Not only was Fulton an exceptionally strong county supervisor when he represented the Paradise area from 1982 to 1993, he was as well an accomplished novelist, playwright and publisher—truly a Renaissance man.

Tall and lanky, with a thick moustache, he looked like the horseman he was, often showing up at supervisors’ meetings wearing Western boots and a bolo tie. He brought a no-nonsense, take-care-of-the-land-and-its-people attitude to the board, and worked well with other supervisors to foster good government in Butte County.

He was also the author of two novels, The Grassman, a beautifully written western with mythic overtones, and Dark Other Adam Dreaming, a dream-like coming-of-age tale. And for several years he’s been the author, with Richard Lauson, of the annual Gold Nugget Days melodrama.

But it was in another role that Fulton may have had his greatest impact. To English-lit majors and poets and short-fiction writers everywhere, he was an iconic figure as the owner of Dustbooks, publisher of the annual Small Press Review. This comprehensive volume managed to track all the small literary magazines and journals in the country and tell its readers what kind of writing those magazines’ editors were interested in and how to submit material to them.

Because of the SPR, many thousands of young writers have received assistance in getting their work before readers, in many cases launching important careers. For more than four decades, the SPR has been an invaluable contribution to American letters, and it’s all because of Len Fulton’s love of small magazines and desire to make them more accessible to everyone.