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Cult literary figure Crad Kilodney dies

04/15/2014 01:10 EDT | Updated 06/15/2014 05:59 EDT
Crad Kilodney, who spent decades on the streets of Toronto selling his self-published literature, has died, according to reports.

Kilodney was best known around the city for his eccentric writing and even more eccentric strategies for marketing his work.

He spent nearly every day for 27 years on either Yonge Street or around the University of Toronto selling his self-published books. He held up a copy of the book he was selling while a sign around his neck advertised the book titles that were occasionally insulting to passersby and potential customers.

He wrote 32 books between 1978 and 1992 and sold copies of them solely on the street until 1995.

Known for his poetic prose and bleak view of Toronto, humanity and himself, he was considered a cult legend in the city.

"I started out with this idealistic view that the public was reasonably intelligent," he said in a 1992 York University documentary on his life. "I must say, after 14 years on the street I've had all of my illusions about the public shattered. A lot of the people on the street cannot read simple words on signs. I mean words like 'from' or 'for' or 'of.'"

Kilodney's cardboard neck signs featured phrases such as "Slimy Degenerate Literature" and "Putrid Scum". He wrote very negatively of Toronto, calling it the "ugliest of cities" in one of his works.

In recent years he was re-imagining works of Shakespeare in a series called Shakespeare for White Trash. All of his books are now out of print except for Villes Bigrement Exotiques. The rest of his titles can be found used.

He died in hospice on April 14. His exact age was unknown, but he was said to be in his late 60s. He had surgery to remove cancer in 2012.

"A literary legend ... has been released from his suffering on this earth," read a tribute on Facebook.

A literary foundation has been set up to preserve his works. 

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