canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999

TDR Profile: Louis Rastelli

Part of the Montreal Fall Books Spectacular

by Nathaniel G. Moore

(November 2007)


Louis Rastelli is a Montreal artist, archivist, writer and activist. He is the author of the new novel A Fine Ending (Insomniac Press, 2007). He is also a staple here in Montreal, founder of numerous innovative forms of artistic promotion. He is the editor and publisher of Fish Piss, a zine with a credible cult following both within and outside of Montreal. Hes also made some cameos in Automatic Vaudevilles productions. Rastelli was the cover subject of the most recent issue of Montreal Review of Books

His website: 

Rastelli's debut novel is a story set in the early 1990s and ending with New Year's 2000 festivities:

Before writing it, I immersed myself in hundreds of pages of various writing of mine from that era, such as journals, emails to friends and unpublished stories and notes. This very much helped me achieve one of the goals of the book, which was to not just be set in 1990s Montreal, but be written in a voice typical of that time and place. Quite a few anecdotes and incidents that I came across in my old writing inspired portions of the novel.

TDR asked Rastelli what major changes the city has gone through in term literary development:

The past 10 years have been very active, especially as seen through some of my projects. The Expozine small press fair and associated Expozine Alternative Press Awards, both of which I co-founded, have helped bring hundreds of otherwise unknown and obscure local presses and authors out of the woodwork. The growth of Expozine in the past six years is a sign of how many presses and self-publishers continue to work in the city: in 2002, Expozine had 60 exhibitors; in 2003, it had 105; last year we had 240 and expect to accomodate 300 presses in an expanded edition this coming November. My Distroboto project has also distributed miniature samples of work by dozens of authors in both languages in Montreal.

Rastelli has been pleased over the past couple of years to see so many of his peers getting published in various forms across the country:

To mention past Fish Piss contributors alone, namely, anglo writers and artists who wrote for the early Fish Piss issues between 1996 and 2000, I believe that at least a half-dozen have published new books in the past couple of years: Heather O'Neill, Catherine Kidd, Andy Brown, Anne Stone, Golda Fried, Jonathan Goldstein, Sherwin Tjia, Joe Ollman, Billy Mavreas, Marc Bell and many others. This helped to convince me that it was about time I published a novel myself.

Rastelli says that literature in both French and English are thriving in Montreal, "and has been for a long time." He believes the surge of events projects such as Expozine and Distroboto have contributed considerably to the visibility and made existing presses and authors much more accessible than they used to be. As for the future of his own zine, Fish Piss, the website is going to be expanded in 2008 with more archives, and sample offerers from previous issues, and some other surprizes.

Fish Piss
will see an expanded website featuring its archives in 2008, and possibly a collection of some of the best previously published as well as unpublished work from its first 12 years. However, says Rastelli:

Fish Piss Magazine has not been published since 2005 due to many factors which no longer make it feasible to publish (namely, the high Can. dollar; the bankruptcy of numerous distributors and advertisers, especially in the US; the huge increase in postage of recent years; and the lack of availability of government support for small magazines.) 

More than half the readership was in the US, and it is quite simply impossible to recoup the costs of distributing copies there at this point. Most of the advertisers were independent music labels and publishers, many of which are feeling similar inflationary pressures and can no longer advertise. 

Unfortunately, Fish Piss is far from the only publication to suffer these effects -- Punk Planet and Clamor are only two of the far more established magazines of a similar type which recently were forced to stop publishing. It's hard to imagine any way for me to resume publishing, unless the content of Fish Piss was so drastically changed as to attract advertisers of consumer goods.






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