Giancarlo DiTrapano, the fearless founder, publisher, and editor of Tyrant Books, died this past week at the age of forty-seven. Fiercely independent and loyal to his writers through and through, he was an irreplaceable presence in the literary world, a one-man powerhouse of the avant-garde. With New York Tyrant magazine, he championed rising talents such as Rachel B. Glaser and Brandon Hobson, and his record with Tyrant was astounding: over the course of a little more than a decade, he published Scott McClanahan’s The Sarah Book, Marie Calloway’s what purpose did i serve in your life, an omnibus of Garielle Lutz’s short stories, Atticus Lish’s Preparation for the Next Life (an excerpt from which appeared in the Fall 2014 issue and received the 2015 Plimpton Prize), and plenty of other strange, deeply felt, highly original books. His work was far from finished. In the months preceding his death, he had been cementing plans to launch a new press. Below, four of his writers and friends (with DiTrapano, there was little distinction) remember his generosity, dark sense of humor, and commitment to literature.
I was at a reading, looking at a novel for sale on a folding table. A guy walked to my side and said what’s up. I said I wanted to buy the novel but had spent all my money on beer. “Take it,” he said. Looked like somebody I’d work construction with. “Take it.” He put the book in my hand. This was the publisher of the book, Giancarlo DiTrapano. An open person, a kind person. He’d just give a stranger something, no reason. I knew him only five years. Gone way, way, way too soon. Can’t think of anybody cooler. Was more alive than anybody else I knew.
I’ve always admired people who dream to do something and then seemingly before they’ve even woken up from the dream, there they are in the midst of it. At a kitchen table in a cramped apartment, launching something beautiful. That’s what he did. There’s a lot of talk about being “punk rock,” about being an individual—how is it even possible to walk one’s own path, by one’s own standards? I don’t know. But all you’d have to do is look at my shelf of releases from Tyrant Books. There they are, twenty of them in a row. Open any one. You can see the answer in there. Authors he deeply loved. Telling stories they had to tell. Each author could explain how passionate Giancarlo was. How when he believed in someone, in something, it was almost impossible to change his mind. You might get in a blowout fight over what the book needed, but in the end, what was birthed into the world was right, was beloved. Was real. Didn’t come out of a boardroom. The opposite. He rooted for the underdog. He helped the underdog come up into brighter light. Read More