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Author Mat Johnson shares writing, life story (video)

By Carolina Astrain
Oct. 10, 2012 at 5:10 a.m.
Updated Oct. 11, 2012 at 5:11 a.m.

Author Mat Johnson answers questions from the crowd after doing a reading of his work Wednesday as a part of the University of Houston-Victoria's American Book Review Fall Reading Series. The reading series will bring four authors to speak at the university this semester.

ABR FALL LINEUP:

Norma Cantú - Nov. 8

Cantú publishes pieces about a number of academic subjects, as well as poetry and fiction. She specializes in Latina and Latino literatures, Chicana and Chicano literatures, border studies, folklore, women's studies and creative writing.

Jake Adam York - Nov. 29

York is the author of three books of poems: "Murder Ballads," winner of the 2005 Elixir Press Prize in Poetry; "A Murmuration of Starlings," winner of the 2009 Colorado Book Award in Poetry; and "Persons Unknown."

The depth, volume and confidence in his voice kept the audience on their toes.

At the University of Houston-Victoria's Alcorn Auditorium, author Mat Johnson turned the reading event on its head by explaining why he wanted to become a writer before reading from his work.

The University of Houston creative writing professor began with a love story set by the foggy London skies.

"I fell in love with a woman who at the time I didn't understand was a horrible human being," Johnson said.

From there, the author explained how his failed relationship led him to a fixation on becoming a professional scribe.

Among the room full of attendees sat sophomore Courtney Bosier in a navy blue dress.

"He's really interesting because he's a minimalist author that also does graphic novels," said Bosier.

In his book "Pym," Johnson often approaches the topic of race with a satirical hand.

"I don't think it's an issue talked about nearly enough," Bosier said. "A lot of the times it's covered up."

The biracial author said his time growing up in Philadelphia played a big part in his first book, "Drop."

A hospital visit to see his mother, who was paralyzed by multiple sclerosis, was used in what he said was one of the most important parts of his authorial debut.

"Writing is based on taking an emotional part of your life and putting it on sale," Johnson said.

After the Q&A portion ended, the author then met with St. Joseph's High School students in a lounge inside the campus' Main Building.

Cheese, crackers and cookies were passed around as the author talked to the students about his writing.

"He's been the best guy so far," junior Jarrett Howell said. "I felt like I could relate with his writing a lot, especially with the story about the fear of being confronted by a stranger."

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