Brian Busby’s Shelves
What books are currently on your nightstand?
I count fourteen, among them books by Margaret Millar, Ross Macdonald, Howard Engel, Arthur Stringer, Roderick Haig-Brown and Douglas Sanderson. Right now I’m reading The Unreasoning Heart, for which Constance Beresford-Howe received the 1945 Intercollegiate Literary Fellowship Prize.
(I know. I’d never heard of it either.)
Who is your favorite novelist of all time?
What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?
You’ll find seventeen books by Richard Rohmer, but only because I agreed to join two old friends in reading every one of his thirty-one books. Rohmer’s name doesn’t mean much today, but forty years ago he was Canada’s bestselling thriller writer. Some people still remember his first, Ultimatum (1973), in which an energy-starved United States invades Canada for its oil. Interestingly, his first flop was something called How to Write a Be$t $eller.
I’ve also been building a decent collection of nineteenth-century anti-Catholic propaganda – research material for a book I’m writing about the Maria Monk hoax. (http://brianbusby.blogspot.ca/2009/06/maria-monks-immortal-book.html).
Who is your favorite fictional hero?
I don’t have one, though I do come across characters I admire from time to time. As a sad young man, I suppose I would have said Jay Gatsby.
What book do you return to?
Memoirs of Montparnasse, John Glassco’s remarkable, unreliable account of his adventures in the Paris of the ‘twenties. It left such an impression on me that I spent eight years writing a biography of the man, A Gentleman of Pleasure (McGill-Queen’s UP, 2011).
Born, raised and educated in Montreal, after university I gravitated toward jobs that had to do with the written word: library wholesaler, soap opera writer, radio dramatist (really) and textbook editor. My last salaried employment was as a national buyer for the country’s dominant bookstore chain. It was inevitable, I suppose, that I would end up struggling to make a living by writing books. Most have been published under pseudonym, written to pay the bills; those that have appeared under my own name were done for love at a loss. My next, The Dusty Bookcase, is drawn from my magazine column and blog (http://brianbusby.blogspot.com), both of which explore the suppressed, ignored and forgotten in Canadian literature.
Still very much a Montrealer, I live with my wife and daughter in St Marys, Ontario, the most beautiful town between Stratford and London.