The cult section of the literary world

Show Me Your Shelves: MP Johnson

MP Johnson is the kind of guy who brings together punk, slime, pubic hair, and burritos. He also knows where your parents like to stick their nasty tongues. In other words, he’s awesome. Seeing/hearing him read live is a pleasure and talking books and gruesome shit is one of the reasons I look forward to going to BizarroCon every year. Now that MP has a new novel out with Eraserhead Press, I thought it’d be a great time to ask him to us his stuff and talk a bit about books. Dig it.

Who are you and what role do books play in your life?

I am the Maximum Attack Three Thousand, or MATT for short. But I go by MP Johnson for religious purposes.

Books play two roles in my life: to suck money out of my pockets and to put awesomeness into my head. My book collection is a constantly shifting monstrosity. Cycles of binging and purging mean that it’s never quite the same. There are some books that will always be in the collection. There are some that I’m eager to ditch.

In high school, I went though a phase in which I had to make all of my collections (books, music, movies) The Best™. I bought stuff I thought was important to have in a collection that people would respect and sold stuff that wasn’t. I ended up selling stuff I loved and buying shit I didn’t care about. Now I know that a good collection of books looks like a scrapheap that only the owner can truly understand. I don’t need to own the canon of classic horror, and it’s weird when I see something resembling it on someone else’s bookshelf. Okay, you know all the important books, but what are you into? Where’s your copy of Fast Sofa that you randomly bought when you were 14 because it had a Flesh Eaters flexi in it and you fell in love with it?

Right now, my collection is recovering from an arbitrary purge. I sold about half of it because I moved around a couple times and I hate moving books. I realized I regretted getting rid of a lot of that stuff. Then I swung back the other way and am just cooling down from spending a stupid amount of money on new stuff. Basically, I’m a lunatic and shouldn’t be allowed money or possessions.

At some point, every author has to choose between romance and bizarro; why did you opt for the weird stuff?

I opted for romance because it’s just so gross. Did you know that sometimes, when people love each other, one will stick his or her tongue up the other’s butt? And that’s like a sweet, conservative example. Most peoples’ parents have done that. I’m not saying that it doesn’t feel really fucking good or that there’s anything wrong with it, but it’s also grosser than eating bugs.

Most of my characters are on a quest for love, and sometimes it even sickens them, the energy and resources they are expending just to have someone to hold onto, even if it’s a pig or a sky serpent. And most of the time, the romance is just utterly doomed because one side wants it more than the other, and it results in some sort of tomfoolery involving inter-dimensional caterpillars or fucked up clown sex.

What are some of your favorite tomes? Is there one you think would surprise people if they knew you love it?

My favorites are Books of Blood by Clive Barker, Deathbird Stories by Harlan Ellison and Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs. Pretty 101, really. I don’t think much of the stuff I love would surprise anyone. Maybe The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway or The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie. Or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie novelization, which is actually the book that got me into reading books in the first place.

What’s up with pubes in burritos?

Beats alfalfa sprouts, right?

What’s your new book about and why should we click away from this interview and buy it?

Dungeons & Drag Queens is an epic fantasy adventure. With drag queens. I love old-school sword and sorcery stuff, from Robert E. Howard up to the stuff that lingered through the ‘80s, like Dean Andersson’s Warrior Witch of Hel, and movies like the Beastmaster. I also love drag queens. Drag is just an amazing, subversive form of self-expression that is also an intensely multifaceted form of art. Not only are these girls fucking with gender norms, they’re doing makeup, choreography, fashion design, music, comedy. I am completely in awe and totally jealous.

Anyway D&DQ is about a small-town drag queen who gets whisked away to a realm of slimy monster shit and pervy dragons. Lots of swords and blood and romance.

Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of Gutmouth and a few other things no one will ever read. You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias

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