Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Marcus McCann

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The Proust Questionnaire, with Marcus McCann

Marcus McCann was born in Hamilton. His first full-length collection, Soft Where (Chaudiere Books, 2009), was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award. McCann is the author of eight chapbooks, most recently Town in a Long Day of Leaving (above/ground, 2010) and The Glass Jaw (coming this fall). He’s a former host of CKCU’s Literary Landscapes and the Naughty Thoughts Book Club, and he organizes the Transgress Festival in Ottawa each October. He now lives in Toronto.

Marcus McCann, rob mclennan and Sandra Ridley will be reading at Clinton's as part of the Art Bar Reading Series on August 10th. See our Events Page for details.

The Proust Questionnaire was not invented by Marcel Proust, but it was a much loved game by the French author and many of his contemporaries. The idea behind the questionnaire is that the answers are supposed to reveal the respondent's "true" nature.


What is your dream of happiness?
Loved ones, friends, community, art, politics, sex, debauchery, frenzy and contemplation, intimacy and strangeness — all blurred together, messy.

What is your idea of misery?

Where would you like to live?
Somewhere temperate, urban, with good access to a bookstore, in walking distance to work. Ahem, with a waterslide.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Bravery; someone who acts out in the world.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Bravery; someone who acts out in the world.

What is your chief characteristic?

What is your principal fault?
Making people feel bad about themselves.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Half-formed, hairbrained theories.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?

What do you value most about your friends?
Engagement with ideas, politics, people and places.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
Giving up too early; taking the easy way.

What is your favourite occupation?

What would you like to be?

What is your favourite colour?
College-slut blue.

What is your favourite flower?

What is your favourite bird?

What historical figure do you admire the most?
Edna St. Vincent Millay.

What character in history do you most dislike?
St. Paul.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Fyodor Dostoevsky, Andre Gide, Graham Greene, Virginia Woolf, John Fowles, Jane Rule, Joseph Conrad, Marie Claire Blais, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Michel Foucoualt, John D’Emilio, Sherry Wolf, Michael Warner, Stan Persky.

Who are your favourite poets?
WH Auden, Allen Ginsberg, James Merrill, Edna St Vincent Millay, Gerald Manley Hopkins, Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon, Les Murray, Mary Jo Bang, Dennis Lee, Kevin Connolly, David McGimpsey, George Elliott Clarke, Susan Holbrook, Margaret Christakos, Ken Babstock, David O’Meara, Monty Reid, Karen Solie, George Bowering, PK Page, John Barton, Mark Doty, Jorie Graham….

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
In the best books, there are no heroes.

Who are your heroes in real life?
My dad.

Who is your favourite painter?
Francis Bacon.

Who is your favourite musician?
Glenn Nuotio.

What is your favourite food?
Food wrapped in other food.

What is your favourite drink?
Cheap, domestic beer, especially super cold, especially from a can.

What are your favourite names?
Boys: Flounder, Tobasco. Girls: Camanda, Countessa, Cassette. Foundra in a pinch. Unisex: Collander.

What is it you most dislike?
Watching people yell at each other on TV.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
Focus. Attention.

How do you want to die?
Quietly out of it, after a long life.

What is your current state of mind?

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Work, life, play.

What is your motto?
Find the mortal world enough. (It’s Auden)

For more information about Soft where, please visit the Chaudiere Books website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.


Check back for more Proust Questionnaires with Canada's literati in this latest series of interviews on Open Book.

Related item from our archives

JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications


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