Confessions of a Small Press Racketeer
by Stuart Ross
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Best Books of 2005, Ottawa Xpress
Writer's Trust of Canada's "Warm Weather Reads Recommended by Writers" list (recommended by Robert Hough)
Confessions of a Small Press Racketeer is equal parts literary memoir, advice for the emerging writer, and reckless tirade. Ross has been active in the Canadian literary underground for a quarter of a century: he’s sold thousands of his books in the streets, published and edited magazines, trained insurgents in his Poetry Boot Camps, and started Canada’s first Small Press Book Fair. Where the media focusses only on the glamorous literary lives of its few superstars, Ross gives us a glimpse into How Writers Really Live. In Confessions, he declares himself the King of Poetry, explores his floundering Jewish identity, wanders into the best bookstore in Canada, offers a crash course in avoiding writing, pisses off his publishers, runs a renegade Canada booth at the International Book Fair in Managua, and begs egomaniacal young writers to stop bugging the hell out of him. Many of these essays are culled from Ross’s bimonthly “Hunkamooga” column in Word: Toronto’s Literary Calendar. Others are written specifically for this collection.
Praise for Confessions of a Small Press Racketeer:
"From big-budget movies to reality television to pre-fab pop music, our culture often celebrates idiots while relegating truly engaging artists to the margins or the poorhouse. Ross is one of those mostly disenfranchised voices, shouting eloquently from the literary attic ... Ross is a chapbook champion because the tiny tracts are 'a slap in the face to Mike Harris and Jean Chrétien and McDonald’s and Knopf and MuchMusic and Greg Gatenby and cellphones and Republicans and Indigo and all the other stops along the Axis of Evil.' No reformed baby boomer or slumming trust-funder, Ross has the battle scars and knows poetry isn’t about flowers and meadows, it’s about blood and guts." (Quill & Quire)
"Confessions derives from columns Ross wrote for Word, a monthly tabloid that lists events in the Toronto literary counterculture but is itself so hard to find that it's virtually covert if not downright clandestine. He ruminates on the psychology of small-press folk, suggesting common ground with those who 'canvass for a progressive political candidate who has no chance of winning the riding'. He also tells us a lot about the political economy of self-employed poets as well as the personality disorders that result from seeing 'crappier writers than me get more attention'. All writers have such feelings at times. Ross majors in them, with a minor in insulting his betters." (The Georgia Straight)
“…this is writing that works because, as with all good confessions, it’s from the heart but comes by way of the brain.” (Vancouver Review)
- Anvil Press, February 2005
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