Terrible news for book lovers with a taste for the classic American underground: Thunder’s Mouth Press will cease to exist. Corporate parent Perseus Books Group’s CEO David Steinberger has declared that Thunder’s Mouth “does not have a distinct identity”, according to Publisher’s Weekly.
No distinct identity? Ridiculous. Among Thunder’s Mouth’s titles: Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, which still sells strong eight years after publication, The Beat Generation (Jack Kerouac’s play), Billionaires For Bush: How to Rule the World for Fun and Profit, Chelsea Horror Hotel by the late great Dee Dee Ramone, the reissue of Diary of a Mad Housewife by Sue Kaufman with an introduction by Maggie Estep, Dr. Dre by Ronin Ro, Drinking with Bukowski by Danny Weitzman, Expelled From Eden: A William Vollmann Reader, From Totems to Hip-Hop edited by Ishmael Reed, Gangs of New York (Herbert Asbury’s classic book that inspired Scorsese’s terrible movie), The I Hate George W. Bush Reader by Clint Willis, If He Hollers Let Him Go by Chester Himes, Kerouac’s Spontaneous Poetics by Regina Weinreich, The Late Great Allen Ginsberg by photographer Christopher Felver, Lint by Steve Aylett, Mindfield by Gregory Corso, My Less Than Secret Life by Jonathan Ames, Offbeat by David Amram, Overclocked by Cory Doctorow, Poets Against The War edited by Sam Hamill, The Stars Above Veracruz by Barry Gifford, The Subgenius Psychoplaedia of Slack by J. R. “Bob” Dobbs, What Did I Do? The Unauthorized Autobiography of Larry Rivers.
No distinct identity? Absolute bullshit. Thunder’s Mouth covered the counter-culture with both new publications and essential reprints, and in this capacity they represent no insignificant part of my book collection. It’s sad that the corporate parent is dissolving this great company, and it’s offensive that they’re pretending it’s no big deal. Apparently Thunder’s Mouth had no distinct profits, but that doesn’t mean it had no distinct identity. For readers like me, Thunder’s Mouth is — was — a trusted and beloved brand.