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Mason Johnson

Mason Johnson probably isn't you. He works for a major news corporation and doesn't dance. Every second Sunday of the month, he hosts a reading called Piss Fanatics in Chicago. You can read more of his work, most of which makes more sense than this mess, here.


"I really like this collection. The crayon drawings add some child-like wonder to this sad collection of stories. I hope one day when the end of the world happens all the robots have neutral facial expressions on them, like a bunch of Tao Lin characters."

– Beach Sloth

"[L]ike the ‘directional’ arrows & multiple reading ‘paths’ . . . like some ‘choose yr own hopscotch’ . . . ‘good job, good effort’ . . . let’s see some more ‘mason johnson’ poems . . . that would seem ‘great,’ yeah."

– i am alt lit


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Featured Book

Sad Robot Stories

How Often Do We Complicate Such Simple-seeming Things?


Mason Johnson’s Sad Robot Stories does a great job of, among other things, flipping the bird to conventional narrative and reader expectations. Mason’s humanization of his robot protagonist (protagobot?) skillfully navigates robot cliches and preconceptions and even dabbles with sexuality in a way that is not “shocking” but graceful and important.

While these stories are obviously interesting in their kind of kitschy existence, they remain important in other ways. Mason uses the perspective of the robot not in an attempt to bank on whatever quirkiness it instantly provides but as a very effective proponent of “outside-looking-in.” Dilemmas which are “so human” are examined by the inquisitive and heartbreakingly innocent perspective of the lead character and leave the reader wondering why employing this very clean and simple perspective seems so foreign.

How often do we complicate such simple-seeming things? Why do we take these emotions for granted? Items like sadness become so alluring and divine for the robot that readers are enveloped by contempt for their non-robotic selves.

This book is funny because as much as it is a tongue-in-cheek extravagance, it’s a beautiful work about the difficulty anyone has in feeling “human” or “loved.” The presentation — the crayon drawings, different reader paths, and comically minimal website — are tools that were created to augment the campy appeal, but I cannot imagine what could be less alluring than the best and most honest robot narrative I have experienced (sans Will Smith) in many, many years.

Sad Robot Stories is a free e-chapbook and can be downloaded at sadrobotstories.com.

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  1. Mason Johnson said on 09/08/12 at 3:02 pm Reply



  2. brian said on 09/14/12 at 11:32 pm Reply

    oooh i love these. i want a real book though. like drawn on lined paper. like drawn on napkins.


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