Cult literary figure Crad Kilodney dies

Crad Kilodney, who spent decades on the streets of Toronto selling his self-published literature, has died, according to reports.

Left-field writer spent 17 years on Toronto streets selling his books

A still from the York University-produced documentary on Crad Kilodney's life shows the writer selling his books on the street with a sign around his neck. (Crad Kilodney documentary/Vimeo)

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 17 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 pictured after surgery to remove cancer, October, 2012. (Crad Kilodney/Facebook)

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 all 38 of Shakespeare's works in a series called Shakespeare for White Trash, which he considered his opus.

All of his books are now out of print except for Villes Bigrement Exotiques. The rest of his titles can be found used.

Kilodney passed away April 14, after a battle with cancer. He was 66 years old. At his request, he will be cremated and disposed of anonymously. 

He had no known next of kin, but his close friend and fellow artist Lorette C. Luzajic released a statement about the death of the writer.

"[He] was a beloved friend and a brilliant writer who observed human nature from the perspective of the slush pile," she said. 

"A literary legend ... has been released from his suffering on this earth."

Also as per Kilodney's request, Luzajic has set up a literary foundation to preserve his works, exactly one day after his death.