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Hard Volume

For two decades, Henry Rollins has harnessed his anger through his art

The result is an audience broader than glue-huffing punkers waiting for a dramatic reading of "Six Pack." Rollins says his current audience includes "everyone in there from, like mom-and-dad-age -- well, shit, I'm mom-and-dad-age!" He laughs and continues, "You know, people my age coming in on their walkers and stuff and young people all the way down to about high-school sophomore-, high-school-freshman age. Mostly white, about 50/50 male/female."

The bigger audiences Rollins enjoys these days have not led to an episode of Behind the Music (yet), but they have produced an unauthorized biography, which puzzles the subject somewhat: "I don't know why he [fan James Parker] chose me as a topic. Writing a book about me would be like writing a book about Randy Bachman. You know what I mean? He sings, he's in a band -- who cares? And I don't really have any deep, dark secrets. They're all in my books. Any dumbass thing I did, I already wrote about."

Henry Rollins is working harder and more effectively than ever before.
Henry Rollins is working harder and more effectively than ever before.

Ironically, the chain bookstore that had James Parker's unauthorized Turned On: A Biography of Henry Rollins did not have any copies of Rollins' work on its shelves. Because Rollins publishes his books through his own 2.13.61 imprint, they can be hard to find -- unless you go to Subterranean Books in the Loop, where Rollins' work is stocked in the counterculture section, right next to that of one of his literary idols, Henry Miller. Rollins laughs and whoops, "I like that!" when told about this fortuitous placement. For the one-time "Sellout Motherfucker of the Year," getting his work out there is something that hasn't gotten any easier despite 18 years of publishing and a heightened public profile: "At this point, I'm happy if I'm in the bookstore at all. It's easy not to be on the bookshelves these days. With your Barnes & Nobles and your Borders, they've effectively censored a lot of writers, little fish like me, because if they don't put you on their shelves, to Middle America, you don't write books. Thankfully, there's your cooler, hipper stores that would do something like put me next to Henry Miller, that cool way of thinking -- like, 'Hey! Two guys who cuss a lot!'"

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