June 1, 1948
|Died||April 14, 2014|
|Alma mater||University of Michigan|
Crad Kilodney (June 1, 1948 – April 14, 2014) was the pen name of Lou Trifon, an American-born Canadian writer who lived in Toronto, Ontario. He was best known for selling his self-published books (often with outrageous titles such as Bloodsucking Monkeys from North Tonawanda, Suburban Chicken-strangling Stories and Putrid Scum) on the streets of the city between about 1978 and 1995.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Bibliography
- 3 References
- 4 External links
Louis Trifon (as he was then known) was born in Jamaica, New York in 1948 to a Greek family. He obtained a degree in astronomy from the University of Michigan, but instead of working in that field he took a job at Exposition Press, a self-publishing vanity press based in Hicksville, New York. Many of his experiences in that job, and with vanity publishing in general, shaped his outlook on fiction and provided him with material for many stories. The stories "Three Dead Men" and "A Moment of Silence for Man Ray" (both in Girl on the Subway) are examples of this.
He sold a few humour-oriented articles to the Houston Post in 1969, and taking on the name "Crad Kilodney", published very occasional pieces in The National Lampoon between 1970 and 1972. According to information on his unofficial website, Kilodney wrote the first unsolicited short story ever accepted by National Lampoon, a science fiction parody entitled "The Day Saturn Crashed into the Earth". It appeared in their fifth issue.
Move to Canada, and self-publishing
Disgusted by Watergate and U.S. culture generally, Trifon moved to Toronto in 1973 where he worked at a number of other book publishers, mostly in their stockrooms. While doing so, he continued to make very occasional sales of short stories and humour pieces to small magazines, but decided that it might be best to reach people by self-publishing his stories (under his own Charnel House imprint) and selling them face-to-face on the street. This he did from 1978 through 1995, publishing 32 books in this manner, using the name Crad Kilodney. Kilodney could generally be found, and indeed was a fixture, on Yonge Street, at the University Of Toronto downtown campus and in front of the Toronto Stock Exchange building with a cardboard sign hanging from his neck, holding a book he was selling.. His attention-getting signage, always handwritten, might give a book title (e.g., Simple Stories For Idiots), or a mocking self-description of his wares (e.g., "Slimy Degenerate Literature"). The books themselves were usually pamphlet-sized collections of short stories, ranging from 32 to 80 pages in length. Though the vast majority of the work was Kilodney's own, he also edited and offered for sale several anthologies under the banner of Worst Canadian Stories and The Charnel House Anthology of Bad Poetry.
Kilodney mentioned that while most writers are inspired by conventionally great literature, he drew inspiration from the exact opposite: the slush pile, the crank letter, and of course the vanity press. He was, however, not interested in being seen as a crank or an eccentric, but simply wanted to find respectable, legitimate work as a writer and be taken seriously for doing so. Nevertheless, he also enjoyed pranks, and in 1988, Kilodney submitted a number of stories by famous writers to the CBC Radio literary competition, many under absurd names. All of the stories were screened out by the jury.
More in line with Kilodney's literary ambitions, also in 1988 Black Moss Press issued a 'best-of' collection called Malignant Humours. A follow-up collection (Girl On The Subway and other stories) appeared in 1990. These were generally the only Kilodney volumes available in bookstores. Kilodney also wrote for a variety of publications, Canadian and otherwise, such as Only Paper Today, 'What' (a literary magazine), and Rustler (for which he wrote a monthly column at one point).
In 1991, Kilodney was charged with selling commercial goods without a license, making him the only Canadian writer ever charged for selling his own writing. In response, Toronto hardcore band (and long time supporters of the Independent DIY ethos) Armed & Hammered released the song "Crad Kilodney Was Innocent" on a 7" single vinyl record.
At various times Kilodney kept a tape recorder with him and recorded quite a bit of bizarre byplay between himself and prospective customers. He then compiled the oddest or most entertaining exchanges into hand-made cassette tapes ("On The Street With Crad Kilodney" Vols 1, 2, and 3) which he offered for sale alongside his books. They are extremely rare and are collector's items (much as original printings of his books are).
Vol. 3 (a 90-minute cassette) is from 1991. "Dub 154" of this tape, a representative example, includes photocopied typewritten notes detailing the recording process, transfer technique and equipment used. Kilodney handwrote with ballpoint pen on the cassette jacket as well. Side A has 11 recordings, Side B 16 recordings; four of the recordings are answering machine messages, and the rest are the famous surreptitious encounters with people wondering why this man has a sign around his neck. "Excrement" and "Putrid Scum", as well as several of his stories (such as "Henry", featured in Girl on the Subway) are also inspired by these experiences.
Retirement from self-publishing and later work
After receiving an inheritance, Kilodney retired from selling his self-published books in 1995. To continue making income, he took up trading mining stocks, which allowed him to live modestly for the rest of his life. Nevertheless, he continued writing, and looked for new ways to distribute his material. In 1996, Kilodney's satirical piece "Circumcision Rites of the Toronto Stock Exchange" appeared in the 1996 Pushcart Prize anthology, and in 1998 his previously published story "Girl On The Subway" was included in the mainstream literary anthology Concrete Forest: The New Fiction of Urban Canada, published by McClelland & Stewart. A fan-based website, run by Syd Allan, featured occasional new material from Kilodney up until 2004.
From April 2008 until a few months before his death, new satirical articles (and the occasional short story) were posted on Kilodney's blog. A series of 20 articles on "Exotic Cities" that had been published in 2009 were translated into French and collected in the volume Villes Bigrement Exotiques (2012). This was the last of Kilodney's books published in his lifetime.
Kilodney posted his final blog entry, a short story called "Dreaming With Jay", in December 2013. He thanked his readers for their support, and noted that "This is the last piece I will publish in my lifetime."
Kilodney died of cancer on April 14, 2014 at the age of 66. He never married, and left no heirs. The day after his death and at his request, his friend, artist Lorette C. Luzajic, launched the Crad Kilodney Literary Foundation, a website dedicated to preserving and promoting his works. A posthumous collection of his online writings, Strong Meat, appeared in 2015.
Short Story Collections
Most of these collections contain 3 to 8 stories, and are between 34 and 80 pages in length. Most were self published, and appeared as stapled, photocopied pamphlets, in print runs of 800-1,200 copies. There are exceptions: Lightning Struck My Dick is over 100 pages, contains 18 stories, and was published by Virago Press. Pork College was published by Coach House Press. Strong Meat, issued posthumously, is almost 400 pages.
- Mental Cases (1978)
- World Under Anaesthesia (1979)
- Gainfully Employed in Limbo (1980)
- Lightning Struck My Dick (1980)
- Human Secrets - Book One (1981)
- Human Secrets - Book Two (1982)
- Sex Slaves Of The Astro-Mutants (1982)
- Pork College (1984)
- Bang Heads Here, Suffering Bastards! (1984)
- The Orange Book: The Bent Humour of Crad Kilodney (1984)
- The Blue Book: The Eccentric Humour of Crad Kilodney (1985)
- The Green Book: The Polymorphus Humour of Crad Kilodney (1985)
- The Yellow Book: The Outlandish Humour of Crad Kilodney (1985)
- The Scarlet Book: The Flame-Broiled Humour of Crad Kilodney (1985)
- Incurable Trucks & Speeding Diseases (1986)
- Simple Stories For Idiots (1986)
- Nice Stories for Canadians (1988)
- I Chewed Mrs. Ewing's Raw Guts (1988)
- Blood Sucking Monkeys from North Tonawanda (1989)
- Junior Brain Tumours in Action (1990)
- Suburban Chicken Strangling Stories (1992)
- Strong Meat (assorted on-line writing, 1988-2013) (2015)
- Terminal Ward (1983)
- Cathy (1985)
- Foul Pus From Dead Dogs (1986)
- Excrement (1988)
- Putrid Scum (1991)
- Villes Bigrement Exotiques (2012, French language only)
Anthologies of previously collected stories
Black Moss Press issued two anthologies, each around 100 pages, of Kilodney's 'selected stories'. Aside from Pork College, these were the only Kilodney volumes generally available for sale in bookstores.
- Malignant Humors (1988) (13 stories, dating between 1978-1985)
- Girl on the Subway and other stories (1990) (11 stories, dating between 1979-1988)
- Worst Canadian Stories, Vol. 1 (1987)
- Worst Canadian Stories, Vol. 2 (1987)
- The First Charnel House Anthology of Bad Poetry (1989)
- The Second Charnel House Anthology of Bad Poetry (1992)
- Prose Political (1977) (18-page booklet, as Louis Trifon, with Mick Rawsterne and George Cairncross)
- Levin, Martin (May 10, 2014). "Obituary: A connoisseur of the bizarre, Crad Kilodney railed against hypocrisy of the world". Globe and Mail. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
- "Cult literary figure Crad Kilodney dies". CBC News. April 15, 2014. Retrieved April 15, 2014.
- Fiorito, Joe (April 30, 2014). "Author Crad Kilodney was a cranky and courageous fixture on Toronto streets". Toronto Star. Retrieved May 1, 2014.