Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Adam Nayman

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Adam Nayman

Film critic Adam Nayman is the latest author to join ECW Press' Pop Classics imprint, which publishes books discussing why a particular pop phenomenon is worthy of further attention.

Adam's choice may seem like a surprising one for a film critic — his It Doesn't Suck: Showgirls is an examination of the surprising depths of one of the most expensive modern cinematic flops. Showgirls was the 1995 winner of the Razzie Award for Worst Picture, but in It Doesn't Suck, Adam takes readers on a surprise journey through the so-called trainwreck.

In his answers to The Proust Questionnaire, Adam tells us about a televised extravagance, good teeth and an excellent (and tasty) personal motto.

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.

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What is your dream of happiness?
An afternoon of pickup basketball with my wife and friends.

What is your idea of misery?
A Jason Reitman film festival.

Where would you like to live?
If not Toronto, probably Vienna or Berlin — not too hot there.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Sensitivity and tact.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Kindness and a jump shot.

What is your chief characteristic?
I’m a very verbal person.

What is your principal fault?
I’m sometimes timid about new experiences.

What is your greatest extravagance?
We subscribe to HBO in an era of illegal downloads.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
I tend to give people a lot of slack on most things, like that guy in the Bible said.

What do you value most about your friends?
I know a lot of wonderfully supportive people and I’m rarely if ever let down.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
Bullying and arrogance though I hate it mostly because I worry I do it sometimes.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
See above.

What is your favourite virtue?
Patience.

What is your favourite occupation?
I’m going to have to say professional basketball player, seems like fun.

What would you like to be?
See above.

What is your favourite colour?
I’m partial to purple.

What is your favourite flower?
I’ve never thought about this, maybe tulips?

What is your favourite bird?
Peregrine falcon, I did a project on them once in grade six. I cut photos out of magazines and everything.

What historical figure do you admire the most?
Erwin Schroedinger.

What character in history do you most dislike?
Nero.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Jim Thompson, Ira Levin, Vladimir Nabokov, Doris Lessing, Edith Wharton, Italo Calvino.

Who are your favourite poets?
William Blake, Walt Whitman.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Wile E. Coyote.

Who are your heroes in real life?
My dad, for his ethical outlook and my mother for her kindness.

Who is your favourite painter?
Mark Rothko.

Who is your favourite musician?
I love a lot of musicians, maybe Warren Zevon most of all.

What is your favourite food?
Grilled salmon.

What is your favourite drink?
As an adult male I have no problem saying: chocolate milk.

What are your favourite names?
Carmelo, Manute, Rasheed, Darko, Udonis.

What is it you most dislike?
Tax season.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
I’d like to be able to dance but that ship has sailed.

How do you want to die?
Obliviously.

What is your current state of mind?
Morbid, after that last question.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
I’ve only ever had one cavity.

What is your motto?
“Enjoy every sandwich.”

Adam Nayman is a film critic in Toronto for the Globe and Mail and The Grid and a contributing editor to Cinema Scope. He has written on film for the Village Voice, L.A. Weekly, Film Comment, Cineaste, Montage, POV, Reverse Shot, The Walrus, Saturday Night, Little White Lies and The Dissolve. He teaches film studies at the University of Toronto and Ryerson University and is a programmer for the Toronto Jewish Film Society. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.

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