A few years ago I was interviewed by Greg Johnson of Counter-Currents Publishing and I banked off one of his questions to talk about some of the publishers who inspired me to start up Nine-Banded Books way back when. Here's what I had to say about Adam Parfrey, who died earlier this month:
I remember reading Apocalypse Culture when I was maybe 17. It was such a mind-blowing book at that time, and I came away with a sense that publishing was—or could be—a kind of garage punk performance. Parfrey had keen curatorial instincts that made all the difference. Apocalypse was billed as a kind of intellectual freakshow, but the bait and switch is what kept things interesting; once you were in, you discovered that the dark carnival being barked was about more than just tweaking bourgeois sensibilities.
Retrospectively, I think Parfrey was serving up a heaping dense platter of what Sister Y (Sarah Perry) has since described as “insight porn,” the sort of head-lit that tends to re-route mental polarities—that, in her words, gets you “epistemically pushed off of your reality.” Shock value only counts when there’s resonance, and with Parfrey’s literary provocations—and here I would be remiss not to also mention Rants and Incendiary Tracts and Cult Rapture—the afterburn has lasted for decades.
Adam was one of those guys who comes along and says: fuck all that; here's what I'm going to do — and does it. In other words, he was a genius. I never got to meet him in person (always meet your heroes, kids), but we corresponded from time to time and he was always very generous and encouraging. I am convinced that many of today's best independent publishers would never have come into existence were it not for his fearless and self-determined example.
No one will replace him. Here are links to select postmortem encomia: