Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Michael Redhill

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Michael Redhill

Saving Houdini (HarperCollins Canada) is the newest novel from poet, playwright, novelist and short story writer Michael Redhill.

Saving Houdini also marks a new foray into middle grade writing for the multi-genre author. The book follows Dashiel Woolf, who is thrilled to be pulled on stage for a magic trick at a show celebrating the 85th anniversary of Houdini's death. Something goes wildly wrong with the trick, however, and Dash finds himself transported to the Toronto of 1926, with no clue how to get home. He soon realises though that the trick that sent him back must be his only way to return — the only trouble is, the trick hasn't been invented yet.

In celebration of Saving Houdini's publication, we're speaking with Michael today on Open Book, where he takes on the Proust Questionnaire, the classic game loved (though not invented) by its famous French namesake. The questionnaire is meant to reveal the respondent's "true" nature.

In his answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Michael tells us about his Toronto dream home, a favourite indulgence which Proust himself might agree with and a cacophonous possible end to it all.

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What is your dream of happiness?
To be with others.

What is your idea of misery?
Hating my own work.

Where would you like to live?
In a fully detached Victorian house in downtown Toronto.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Seriousness about life, honesty, taste, a sense of humour.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Seriousness about life, honesty, taste, a sense of humour.

What is your chief characteristic?
Desire.

What is your principal fault?
Negativity.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Expensive Parisien restaurants!

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Others’ canned opinions.

What do you value most about your friends?
Their love for me and each other. The history we build together.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
Thoughtlessness.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
A tendency toward feeling blue.

What is your favourite virtue?
Loyalty.

What is your favourite occupation?
Writing.

What would you like to be?
A filmmaker.

What is your favourite colour?
Green.

What is your favourite flower?
Violets.

What is your favourite bird?
Hummingbird.

What historical figure do you admire the most?
Shakespeare.

What character in history do you most dislike?
Hitler.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Philip Roth, Alice Munro.

Who are your favourite poets?
John Berryman, Sharon Olds, bp Nichol.

Who is your favourite painter?
Chagall.

What is your favourite food?
Medium rare steak.

What is your favourite drink?
Red wine.

What are your favourite names?
Hannah.

What is it you most dislike?
Being a public person.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
A singing voice.

How do you want to die?
A piano falling on my head while walking down the street: unexpected and musical.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Raising two great sons.

What is your motto?
Think for yourself.


Michael Redhill is a fiction writer, playwright, poet, and the co-editor (and former publisher) of the literary magazine Brick. His bestselling first novel, Martin Sloane, was a finalist for the 2001 Giller Prize, received the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and Books in Canada First Novel Award, and was nominated for the City of Toronto Book Award and the Trillium Book Award. His second novel, Consolation, a historical novel of Toronto, received the 2007 Toronto Book Award, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and was selected as the book everyone in Toronto should read for the 2008 Keep Toronto Reading "One Book" campaign. He has also received multiple awards for his poetry and plays. A father of two sons, he lives in Toronto.

Check out all the Proust Questionnaire interviews in our archives.

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