by Gabino Iglesias
This column is called Show me your shelves, but here at Bizarro Central, we do things differently. This week, we feature an author who agreed to show us his shelves and didn’t have any: Justin Grimbol. If you know Grimboli, you know this somehow makes perfect sense.
Who are you and what role do books play in your life?
My name is Justin Grimbol and I write books. But even if I didn’t write book, I would read them a lot. I love books. When I was young I read comics mainly. Underground shit. Love and Rockets. Ed The Happy Clown. But then, when I was about 21, I read Ham On Rye by Bukowski. I got obsessed with that weirdly warm and wild effect sentences have on my mind. I started reading nonstop. Now I hate comics. Too many pictures. Not enough words. Fuck comics. I write now. I write all the time. I write books and poems and stuff on Facebook. I can’t stop. It’s getting crazed.
I asked you to show me your shelves. You showed me a stack of books. What gives?
About ten years ago someone stole my car. I had so much shit in the trunk of that thing. I had hundreds of books and my entire wardrobe. I was devastated. It was Thanksgiving. I had to get home. I took the train, cause I had no fucking car. The train was packed. I cried in front of all these people and they were looking at me. Some people were looking at me like I was a crazy person. Some were looking at me with pure compassion. They didn’t know what had happened to me. Maybe I got my heart broken. Maybe a relative died. They didn’t know I was crying about a stolen car and clothes and books and DVDs. I got so mad at myself. I promised myself to never get so attached to things like that again. That weekend I got rid of all my comics, all my books, and all my DVDs. I enjoyed getting rid of all that stuff. It felt freeing.
So I buy lots of books. But I don’t keep them. I sell them to book stores or give them to friends. The stack in the photo is of what few books I keep. I call it THE SACRED STACK. I love the books in that stack. I love them too much. I can’t get rid of them.
What are some of your favorite books?
Most of my favorite books are in the stack. But there are some books that should be in the stack, that aren’t. HAM ON RYE should be in that stack. There should be more Mellick in the stack. Mellick has so many great books. He deserves a stack of his own, but I gave all my Mellicks to the kids in this rehab I used to work at.
I have a Kindle, so some of my favorite books are on that little gizmo. I love Prunty’s Fill The Grand Canyon and Live Forever. And Cameron Peirce’s Pickled Apocalypse of Pancake Island. And Sam Pink’s Person and Hurt Others. All those books should be in the stack. One day I will buy paperback copies of these books and they shall join THE SACRED STACK. But the stack can’t get too big though. I will have to get rid of some of THE STACK’S current residents.
Oh, I forgot! THERE’S ONE MORE BOOK THAT SHOULD BE IN THE STACK! Crapalachia by Scott McClanahan. That’s my new favorite book. I read it and the fucking thing blew my mind to little Grimbols that started dry humping each other. It’s so good. It’s not in the stack because I lent it to my dad. But it will be in the stack soon. SOON!
You like to write filthy stuff. What’s the filthiest books you’ve ever read?
The Dirty Havana Trilogy by Pedro Juan Gutierrez. That book is crazed. So much sex. So much raw nasty goodness. Then there is Going Monstering by Edward Lee. That’s a different kind of filthy. That book made my soul and my body feel filthy. Like I needed to take a shower. With scolding hot water. And scrub myself down with sandpaper. Anything to get clean again. It’s amazing but just wrong. Gutierrez is different. He makes me want to party and sweat and have clumsy-beautiful sex.
What’s your last book about and why should we run and buy it?
THE PARTY LORDS. It’s a rowdy little book. It’s like Sixteen Candles dry-humped Deliverance or the Wrong Turn movies. It’s a funny book. But sappy at times, too. I grew up watching Fried Green Tomatoes over and over again. I’m a sappy guy. And that sappiness gets into everything. I can’t help it.
Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of Zero Saints (Broken River Books), Gutmouth (Eraserhead Press), Hungry Darkness (Severed Press), and a few other things no one will ever read. You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias