05 August 2013

E is for Early Work

I once met Barbara Gowdy at a Chapters Inc annual shareholders meeting; I owned stock, she was signing copies of The White Bone. Anyone who finds this at all peculiar is advised to revisit their memories of the 'nineties. The very same meeting saw the launch of a short-lived, ill-conceived venture, immortalized through laminated bookmarks slipped into copies of Ms Gowdy's novel:

The White Bone was free to anyone willing to stand in line. I took my place, but what I really wanted was Ms Gowdy's signature on the book pictured above. Published in 1988, Through the Green Valley was her first. I've not read it – 'tis a historical romance – though I am intrigued because it is so very different from the rest of her oeuvre. Where Falling Angels, the author's sophomore novel, is in print Through the Green Valley has been unavailable for a quarter century.

"I'm not sure I want to sign this," said Ms Gowdy.

I felt bad.

Brian Moore disowned his earliest novels. For three decades, friend Mordecai Richler kept his debut, The Acrobats, out of print. In university, this paperback copy made the rounds of my friends like a Bowie bootleg.

(Am I alone in being amazed by the speed with which it returned to print after Richer's death?)

I've been thinking of early work and all associated embarrassment ever since receiving a query brought by last week's post on doppelgängers:
You wrote that you used to write as Brian John Busby. Someone called Brian John Busby wrote for a Canadian TV show called "Time of Your Life". Are you that Brian John Busby?
Yes, I am. A low-budget, low-rent teen soap, Time of Your LIfe was my first paid writing gig.

The correspondent adds: "Great show!"

Wish I could agree, though I'll allow that the stray bits posted online point to something that is not nearly so horrible as I remember.

As for Ms Gowdy... I didn't press, and she proved to be a good sport.

Addendum (for my nieces):


  1. I loved Time of Your Life. Oh! Wait! That's because I wrote for it, too.

    I still have almost every single episode on VHS (I might be missing no more than 10 of the 120 episode run) and am hoping one day to transfer them to DVD and then upload them onto YouTube so that the legions of loyal fans will be able to enjoy them over and over...and yet that probably won't happen because I am just too damn lazy!!!

    Does anyone want to take on this project???

    1. I've been lugging the tapes around for a quarter-century, Knuckles - along with the scripts. A facsimile edition is in order, I think.

  2. Knuckles, you should definitely do that for the episodes that I appeared in.