The Canvas, Volume 1: The Shine by DA Edwards

May 30, 2023

Originality always helps books, but sometimes lifting from reality can be entertaining.

Novels about pro wrestling tend to fall into a couple of categories. Some use it as a backdrop for genre fiction such as crime (Blood Red, Dollar Green) or romance (The Cruiserweight). Many of the rest cover fictionalized careers based heavily on the US territory era.

The Canvas certainly falls into the latter category, but in this case the obvious influence of real events is an added bonus.

It uses real wrestling venues but the names are fictionalised (though plausible). The characters range from familiar archetypes to very obvious individuals with new names. The broad outline of the period, from 1982 until the first WrestleMania is largely as happened for real.

In other cases, specific events that happen to the lead character and his colleague are taken from real events but placed in a different time and context. It adds an extra insight for dedicated wrestling fans who, without going too far into spoiler territory, will likely have a sense of dread when a character is left alone ill in a Japanese hotel room or when a Puerto Rican promoter invites the lead character to discuss business in the shower.

What makes it work is that there’s enough variance between the fictionalised world of the novel and its real-life inspirations to keep the reader on their toes. Meanwhile the subplot of the lead character’s struggles to balance his professional and personal life adds depth to the book without overly dominating.

While not at the creative level of Blood Red, Dollar Green, this did leave me interested in reading a second volume, though this doesn’t appear to have materialised. Still, if you’re tickled by the idea of not-Al Hayes shit-stirring to annoy not-Andre the Giant on a plane, this is worth your time.


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