Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Dan Wagstaff

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The Proust Questionnaire, with Dan Wagstaff

Dan Wagstaff blogs at The Casual Optimist and works in sales and marketing for Raincoast Books. In his answers to the Proust Questionnaire, he lets us in on his principal fault, his greatest accomplishment, his current state of mind 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?
Seeing my kids blossom. To make a living from my creative work.

What is your idea of misery?
Poverty. Material, creative and intellectual poverty. (And quite possibly answering this questionnaire).

Where would you like to live?
In a beautifully-built house. Near trees, hills and water.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Humility. A nice jacket and scarf.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Wit.

What is your chief characteristic?
Uncertainty. No, wait....

What is your principal fault?
I have a long list of faults... Procrastination, vacillation and repressed Britishness would be very near the top.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Spending too much time online.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Their religious beliefs.

What do you value most about your friends?
Their friendship.... Generosity. Good humour. Patience.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
Being a dick.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
See above. Not being smarter. Or more talented. Fear.

What is your favourite virtue?
Virtues are virtues. Who has a favourite virtue?

What is your favourite occupation?
Painting.

What would you like to be?
Better.

What is your favourite colour?
Blue. But I also like Red.

What is your favourite flower?
The ones in our garden.

What is your favourite bird?
Owls. But birds in general are great.

What historical figure do you admire the most?
Historical figures are overrated.

What character in history do you most dislike?
Hitler and/or Stalin. Take your pick. Surely they have a lock on this?

Who are your favourite prose authors?
I like specific books, or parts of specific books, rather than an specific authors... I've just finished an astonishing collection of short stories called Memories of the Future by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, and currently I'm enjoying (the overlooked and apparently not very available) Colony by Hugo Wilcken for what that's worth...

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Marlowe, Batman, Hellboy, The Spirit.... Basically guys who can take a chair to the back of the head (and wise-crack about it after).

Who are your heroes in real life?
Creative people. Dissidents. Not necessarily in that order.

Who is your favourite painter?
As with authors, I like parts, periods and specific works…. Lately, I've been thinking a lot about Franz Kline's abstract paintings from the early 1950s. And Robert Rauschenberg.

What is your favourite drink?
Coffee.

What are your favourite names?
The names of my children.

What is it you most dislike?
Bigotry. Belligerence.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
Any natural talent would be a gift.

How do you want to die?
Happy.

What is your current state of mind?
What? (Distracted)

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
My marriage and my kids.

What is your motto?
“Again”. Or maybe "Less, but better" (to borrow from Dieter Rams).

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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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