Fantasies & Hard Knocks

My Life as a Printer

About the Book

Ex Ophidia Press, 813 pages, $45.00.

ISBN: 978-0-692-36404-8.

Words such as “titillating,” “irreverent,” “salacious,” and “intriguing” are already being used to describe Richard-Gabriel Rummonds’s new memoir, Fantasies & Hard Knocks. Lavishly produced, this remarkably candid book chronicles in great detail the printing and publishing of the 42 items with his Plain Wrapper Press and Ex Ophidia imprints. It is filled with deeply personal and revealing anecdotes of working with acclaimed (and sometimes fickle and tempestuous) authors and artists around the world, as well as the pleasures and frustrations of producing fine books using an antiquated technology. In addition, the text is interspersed with over 450 images, mostly in color, and 65 recipes of dishes Rummonds prepared for his illustrious guests and friends.

Rummonds has worked closely with many of the most-admired and renowned authors and artists in the world, including authors Jorge Luis Borges, Anthony Burgess, Italo Calvino, C.P. Cavafy, John Cheever, Brendan Gill, Dana Gioia, Luigi Santucci, Vittorio Sereni, Jack Spicer, Laure Vernière, and Paul Zweig, and artists Antonio Frasconi, Mirek, Ariel Parkinson, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Ruggero Savinio, Roger Seldon, Fulvio Testa, Joe Tilson, and Ger van Dijck. His memoir offers rare insights about their personal lives and his struggles when dealing with them. Between 1977 and 1982, Rummonds was joined at the press by Alessandro Zanella, a talented printer in his own right.

Rummonds, the first openly gay handpress printer, is not bashful when talking about his personal life or his tempestuous relationships with his writers and artists, as well as his many lovers, which at times were happy and funny, risqué and absurd, sad and melancholy.