Character Parts | Penguin Random House Canada
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Character Parts

Who's Really Who in CanLit

Publisher: Vintage Canada
Ever wondered where novelists get the inspiration for their characters? Why the hero or villain of your favourite book seems oddly familiar?

Who inspired Mordecai Richler to create Bernard Gursky; Margaret Atwood to create Zenia in The Robber Bride? In which novel does Northrop Frye appear (as a character named Morton Hyland)? The answers can be found in Character Parts, Brian Busby’s irreverent yet authoritative guide to who’s really who in Canadian literature. The most original and entertaining reference book to be published in years, Character Parts is the behind-the-scenes look at CanLit we have all been waiting for.

Brian Busby settles the suspicions that arise when a fictional character reminds you of a real-life one, listing the sources for characters from the whole of Canadian literature. His canvas stretches from the settlers who inspired 1852’s Roughing It in the Bush to Glenn Gould’s appearance as Nathaniel Orlando Gow in Tim Wynne-Jones’ The Maestro, and beyond. But Character Parts is also chock-full of fascinating, less famous people who have been immortalized in Canadian books: seductive Alberta politicians, British army generals, anarchists, models, aristocrats -- and, of course, parents, siblings and ex-spouses.

Authoritative, but presented with a light touch, Character Parts is as at home in a university library as on a bathroom shelf. It’s that rare find: an exemplary reference book that is also an absolutely entertaining read in its own right.

From the Hardcover edition.



John -- not his real name -- is a writer. His many stories and novels have met with muted critical acclaim and with a commercial success so timid it verges on the agoraphobic. Others, less optimistic or less self-assured, would long ago have sniffed the wind and abandoned the chase, but John...
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“One of the most useful, not to mention entertaining, reference books to come along in years. A mine of information on literary inspirations.”

“Endlessly fascinating. Brian Busby has done a remarkable job bringing together material from a wide range of sources, many of them not found anywhere else, to create a rich and indispensable reference book. This is the CanLit canon as seen from an entirely new angle.”
—Will Ferguson

Character Parts breathes new life — and real lives — into old literature.”
The Edmonton Journal

“This A-to-Z guide to our country’s fictional characters is chock full of interesting bits, both literary and historical — not to mention their potential for impressive cocktail-party chat.”
The Globe and Mail

Character Parts is an amazing little volume, an indispensable companion to Canadian literature, a useful and entertaining reference book that will delight and inform the CanLit collector. … Busby has done his homework. … [Busby’s] book is a mine of information, a Who’s Who of Canadian literature that is not to be missed.”
The London Free Press

From the Hardcover edition.