Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Matthew Henderson

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Matthew Henderson

Matthew Henderson's literary debut is The Lease (Coach House Books), a collection of poetry inspired by his time in the Canadian oilfields. With the tensions of technology and human labour, Matthew explores characters seldom seen in poetry, calling up a cast of hard-living men rendered in paradoxically beautiful lines.

In his answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Matthew tells Open Book about high class weddings, dependable owls and his greatest accomplishment.

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?
A quiet woodland cabin on a lake with high speed internet and the ability to summon or dismiss my friends at a whim without offending them.

What is your idea of misery?
Attending a high class wedding..

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Loyalty, honesty, kindness, intellect, passion.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Loyalty, honesty, kindness, intellect, passion.

What is your chief characteristic?
Loyalty.

What is your principal fault?
Anger.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Playing too many videogames.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Perpetual stress and nervousness.

What do you value most about your friends?
Humour, irreverence, loyalty, talent.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
Anger, pride and arrogance.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
Anger, pride and arrogance.

What is your favourite virtue?
Patience.

What is your favourite occupation?
Wallstreet. Not really, banking.

What would you like to be?
Still.

What is your favourite colour?
When I was nine, it was orange. I haven’t really been keeping up with it.

What is your favourite bird?
I like owls because they always look the same.

What character in history do you most dislike?
Jennifer Lopez.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
The last prose I read was Adam Levin’s The Instructions.

Who are your favourite poets?
Favourite is tricky. Here are three random poets from my shelf: Linda Besner, Karen Solie, John Glenday.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
I have a childhood loyalty to a fantasy anti-hero/villain named Raistlin Majere. I read too much fantasy, my favourite of the last few years is Drusas Achamian from Scott Bakker’s Prince of Nothing series.

What is your favourite food?
My life is a blur of controlled binging. Lately, I love sushi.

What is your favourite drink?
Coffee.

What is it you most dislike?
Rude people.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
The ability to sing.

How do you want to die?
Excited.

What is your current state of mind?
Tired.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
The greatest accomplishment is always the one I haven’t had yet.


Matthew Henderson is a recent graduate of the University of Guelph’s MFA program. Originally from Prince Edward Island, he now lives in Toronto, writes about the prairies and teaches at Humber College.

For more information about The Lease please visit the Coach House Books 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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