Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Bronwyn Kienapple

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The Proust Questionnaire, with Bronwyn Kienapple

Bronwyn Kienapple works in publicity at Penguin Group (Canada), runs the book blog A Certain Bent Appeal and is a member of EYE Weekly's Pop Fiction book club. In her answers to the Proust Questionnaire, she tells us about her heroes, real and fictional, why Eustacia Vye is her favourite name 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?
A heavily tree-shaded cabin in the woods with a view over a brook where I could read and dream and listen to the rain fall on the leaves.

What is your idea of misery?
Living a small life where I felt every ripple in my pond was of utmost concern to myself.

Where would you like to live?
I would like to have a little pied a terre in every beautiful city in the world (Paris, Rome, Tokyo for starters), a sturdy ol' Cape Cod sitting on the Nova Scotia coast and finally a jungle island kingdom filled with waterfalls and friendly animals where I could rule. I'd jet between all these places as I pleased.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Emotional intelligence

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
The ability to say no

What is your chief characteristic?
Tenacity

What is your principal fault?
I am quick to anger

What is your greatest extravagance?
Yoga and (limited) travel

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Awkwardness, being inappropriate, oversharing

What do you value most about your friends?
I tend to collect acquaintances, not friends.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
A disgusting desire to cowtow to every counterforce one meets.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
I'm terribly secretive with people even when I have virtually nothing to hide.

What is your favourite virtue?
Light heartedness. I love people who are naturally optimistic and good natured.

What is your favourite occupation?
Book publishing is so ideal because we trade in ideas and that could never feel stale.

What would you like to be?
My own mistress!

What is your favourite colour?
A vibrant, heart wrenching Nova Scotian sky blue.

What is your favourite flower?
Big lush peonies are the f**k-me pumps of flowers.

What is your favourite bird?
Chickadees.

What historical figure do you admire the most?
Does Doris Lessing count? When I read The Golden Notebook I could only imagine how her words would have been a draught of cool water to feminists of the '60s. To articulate so distinctly how women are second class citizens must have really resonated. It certainly spoke to me!

What character in history do you most dislike?
Any group of men who thought starting a giant bloody war would be a fantastic way to spend a few years.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
D.H. Lawrence, Thomas Hardy, Rivka Galchen, Stieg Larsson, Anne Michaels, James Frey, Shandi Mitchell, Lisa Moore

Who are your favourite poets?
John Donne (swoon!), Gwendolyn MacEwen.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Emma Bovary, Eustacia Vye, Lady Chatterley, Lisbeth Salander and Isabel Archer. Oh and Frodo.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Jesus. Just kidding. Writers. To have the courage to produce art, even bad art, is a beautiful thing.

Who is your favourite painter?
Rothko.

Who is your favourite musician?
David Gray.

What is your favourite food?
Seafood! I could devour scallops pan fried in garlic and butter, silky lobster claws, salty-tangy mussels, slabs of smoked salmon, sinfully salty roe and don't forget fat pieces of deep fried cod until I was hundreds upon hundreds of pounds given the chance.

What is your favourite drink?
That first cup of coffee of the day.

What are your favourite names?
Eustacia Vye. Purrrrr! Anyone with the name Eustacia Vye would always get her way!

What is it you most dislike?
Procedure, corporate double speak, pomposity, bullshit excuses.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
I often wish I could stride onto stage in a lush Marchesa gown, stand tall and proud in my very own spotlight, and burst into glorious song a la Celine Dion.

How do you want to die?
Never!

What is your current state of mind?
Body tired but mentally wired.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
My current state of relative happiness.

What is your motto?
Keep it simple, stupid!

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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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