Saturday, 4 January 2014

Crad Kilodney

Jay MillAr reminisces about Crad Kilodney, Toronto's "literary terrorist":
The story that I learned about Crad Kilodney before I moved to Toronto is much like a Crad Kilodney story: Crad Kilodney is a nom-de-plume. It is the invention of someone who grew up in Queens, went to college and graduated with an Astronomy degree, worked for a few months in that field and then quit to move to Toronto (thus becoming a failure in his chosen profession overnight) and became a writer. Not only did he become a writer, but a publisher as well in the tradition of the Chappies that published and sold their own work on public streets in small inexpensive pamphlets that came to be known as chapbooks. This took the notion of failure a little further: because no one else would publish and distribute his work, he would do it himself, and he would write purposely bad stories that failed at being great literature and sell them directly to a public that for the most part ignored him. It is because of Kilodney's proactive stance (let's face it, it is just that) with regard to his writing I always took the notion of failure with a bit of a smirk. After all, Kilodney did quit his "chosen profession," and and chose to move to Toronto of all places to become a writer. But I think the notion of failure, and it's relation to expectation, plays a significant role in the work he has produced.

It was because of Kilodney and the other authors that I was discovering in relation to him who also self-published that I too began to self-publish my own work. I even tried standing on the streets of London Ontario with a sign around my neck a la Kilodney, offering my first chapbook to the public for $5. I failed miserably—selling something you have made yourself, in particular a little booklet of poems, is probably one of the most difficult things in the world to do. And every time I caught a glimpse of a police car I would duck into a nearby store or simply walk in the opposite direction, assuming what I was up to was illegal. I tried selling the chapbook to friends in the hallways of UWO but that was as difficult if not more difficult than trying to sell it to strangers downtown—the awkwardness that I felt, and I'm sure my friends felt, as I pulled the book out of my satchel, handed it to them and suggested they pay me $5 for it was overwhelming. So I have to hand it to Kilodney—I can honestly say that it takes a thick skin to do what he did for years, and actually (amazingly) made a living doing (although I understand he supplemented his income writing stories for
Hustler Magazine). Today things are way easier: you simply post to social media about your new book and everyone can safely ignore you at a distance by either liking the post or not.


Dimitrios Otis said...

It is good to have someone who actually tried selling their books on the street comment on Kilodney's achievement in doing that for almost 20 years. Surely it is incredibly difficult. This could lead one to re-evaluate the "failure" moniker (a moniker Kilodney himself always declared, signing his books, "Failed writer and dead man"); Crad Kilodney was actually a successful writer. His writings were published and sold and read, AND they generated income for him.
Also, Kilodney wrote for Rustler Magazine, a Canadian rip-off of Hustler, along with sister magazines Elite and Mink from the same publisher. But that occupation would have only overlapped for the first several years of his story-writing career.

Anonymous said...

UPDATE: April 4, 2014: Mr. Kilodney is, if reports are true, terminally ill and those wishing to send a message of respect and affection to the man should do so soon.