Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Steven W. Beattie

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The Proust Questionnaire, with Steven W. Beattie

Steven W. Beattie is the review editor at Quill & Quire magazine. He administers the literary website That Shakespearean Rag. In his answers to The Proust Questionnaire, he lets us in on his greatest accomplishment, his current state of mind, his motto and more.

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" personality.

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What is your dream of happiness?
Having enough time to read all the things I want to read, but not like Burgess Merideth at the end of that Twilight Zone episode.

What is your idea of misery?
Airplane travel.

Where would you like to live?
Paris. (France, not Ontario, thank you very much.)

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Intelligence and a sense of humour.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Intelligence and a sense of humour.

What is your chief characteristic?
Sarcasm.

What is your principal fault?
Sarcasm.

What is your greatest extravagance?
My CD collection.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Bad breath.

What do you value most about your friends?
They can make me laugh.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
An inflated sense of self-importance.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
Laziness.

What is your favourite virtue?
Charity.

What is your favourite occupation?
Being a literary critic is the best thing I’ve found so far.

What would you like to be?
A novelist, though I lack a certain empathy.

What is your favourite colour?
Blue.

What is your favourite flower?
An orchid.

What is your favourite bird?
A finch.

What historical figure do you admire the most?
Søren Kierkegaard.

What character in history do you most dislike?
Hitler. (Doesn’t everyone say Hitler?)

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Philip Roth, Flannery O’Connor, Mary Gaitskill, Haruki Murakami

Who are your favourite poets?
T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats, Anne Sexton, Ken Babstock

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Hazel Motes, Raskolnikov, John Self (None of whom is particularly heroic, but what are you going to do?)

Who are your heroes in real life?
Steve Earle, Martin Luther King, my brother.

Who is your favourite painter?
Jackson Pollack.

Who is your favourite musician?
Tom Waits.

What is your favourite food?
Nothing beats a hot dog from a roadside cart.

What is your favourite drink?
Lagavulin 16-year-old single malt scotch.

What are your favourite names?
I’m not sure I have specific preferences, although I’d definitely steer clear of Dweezil or Rainbow.

What is it you most dislike?
People who are intolerant of other people’s cultures. And the Dutch.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
Perfect pitch.

How do you want to die?
Peacefully.

What is your current state of mind?
Wonderment at how long this questionnaire is.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Making it this far in life without setting anything significant on fire.

What is your motto?
Don’t trust any of the answers I’ve just given.

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

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