Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Andrew Kaufman

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Andrew Kaufman

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Andrew Kaufman's All My Friends are Superheroes, in which narrator Tom's friends literally are superheroes, including his wife, the Perfectionist, who has been hypnotized to believe Tom is invisible. To celebrate this important milestone, publisher Coach House Books has reprinted the book, which has stood the test of time well, proving as witty, sweet and clever a decade later as it was when first published. The new edition has the added benefit of a new catalogue of superheroes and gorgeous illustrations by Tom Percival.

In his answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Andrew tells Open Book about office extravagance, what pint-sized musical genius influenced his taste in flowers and, of course, the shores of Lake Huron.

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?
The shores of Lake Huron.

What is your idea of misery?
Movable goalposts.

Where would you like to live?
The shores of Lake Huron.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Honour. That whole keeping your word thing.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Love over gold.

What is your chief characteristic?
Brevity,

What is your principal fault?
Sloth.

What is your greatest extravagance?
I keep an office, even though I could work from my living room.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Failure.

What do you value most about your friends?
That they still, after all of this, over so many years, stick with me.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
Pushiness.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
Selfishness.

What is your favourite virtue?
Compassion.

What is your favourite occupation?
Um … writer?

What would you like to be?
Thinner.

What is your favourite colour?
Purple.

What is your favourite flower?
Daffoldil. I was very into Prince in high school.

What is your favourite bird?
Big.

What historical figure do you admire the most?
I just wrote at TV script about Chuck Yeager and I gotta say, he’s kinda blowing my mind.

What character in history do you most dislike?
Stephen Harper.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Aimie Bender, Kurt Vonnegut, Calvino.

Who are your favourite poets?
My taste in poetry is horrible — peaks at John Donne, bottoms out at Richard Brautigan.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Yossarian.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Anybody who has kids and stays together.

Who is your favourite painter?
It changes, but right now it’s Jack Bush.

Who is your favourite musician?
Mr. Bowie.

What is your favourite food?
Goat roti.

What is your favourite drink?
Again, changes. Right now, Caeser.

What are your favourite names?
Phoenix and Frida.

What is it you most dislike?
This urge, currently everywhere, to decide value by cost.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
Grace under pressure.

How do you want to die?
By the shores of Lake Huron.

What is your current state of mind?
Pretty good.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
I have to say my kids, but after that, The Waterproof Bible.

What is your motto?
Perceive, Adapt, Continue.


Andrew Kaufman was born in the town of Wingham, Ontario. This is the same town that Alice Munro was born in, which makes him the second-best writer from a town of 3,000. He attended F. E. Madill High School. He is also the author of The Waterproof Bible, The Tiny Wife, Born Weird and the short story collection Selected Business Correspondence. He lives in Toronto with his awesome wife and two kids, Phoenix and Frida.

For more information about All My Friends are Superheroes please visit the Coach House website.

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

Check out all the Proust Questionnaire interviews in our archives.

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JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications

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