Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Rob Benvie

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The Proust Questionnaire, with Rob Benvie

Both a writer and a musician, Rob Benvie is the author of Maintenance (Coach House Books). His previous novel, Safety of War, was also published by Coach House, and he has worked with bands The Dears and Thrush Hermit, amongst several others.

In his answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Rob Benvie tells Open Book about his personal equation, his concern for the Ostrogoths and much 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" nature.

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What is your dream of happiness?
The eternal bliss of solitude, except when the gang comes over.

What is your idea of misery?
Monotony. Student loans.

Where would you like to live?
In a mobile undersea lair.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
A good beard, handyness.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Freckles, kindness, a nice ass.

What is your chief characteristic?
Ambition – talent x (fear of death/embrace of death) + hopefulness2 = me.

What is your principal fault?
Inconsistency, both in demeanour and in body hair.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Brew-dawgs for lunch.

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

What do you value most about your friends?
Their tolerance of my delusions of grandeur and general flip-floppiness about everything. Quality laughs. Appropriate meanness.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
Vulgarity. Immodesty. Boringness.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
Impatience. Acne. The ever-tedious impulse to have an opinion on everything.

What is your favourite virtue?
Sticktuitiveness.

What is your favourite occupation?
Drug dog. Guide dog. Pretty much any dog job.

What would you like to be?
Two inches taller; I always wanted to be taller than my father.

What is your favourite colour?
Broken-blood-vessel red.

What is your favourite flower?
A single white rose, dappled with a droplet of an Irishman’s blood.

What is your favourite bird?
The duck.

What historical figure do you admire the most?
Woody Guthrie.

What character in history do you most dislike?
Balamber, purported crusher of the Ostrogoths. That cursed fiend.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Dostoyevsky/Anthony Robbins (tie).

Who are your favourite poets?
Jewel/Hart Crane (tie).

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Jack Kirby’s New Gods. The Fabulous Stains. Dr. Octagon.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Joe Strummer. Karl Malden. Tallulah Bankhead. James Brown. Various dead people.

Who is your favourite painter?
Rothko, but only in the summer when I’m depressed.

Who is your favourite musician?
John Bonham.

What is your favourite food?
Sandwiches. Clams dug up from the sandy shores of Nova Scotia.

What is your favourite drink?
“Open bar.”

What are your favourite names?
“Fatty.” “Scraps.” “Jinky.” “Mitt.” “Newt.” “Kurdt.”

What is it you most dislike?
Telephones. Even more so, “smart phones.”

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
Gamesmanship.

How do you want to die?
Bleeding to death at the bottom of a well, demented on crystal meth.

What is your current state of mind?
Sharp as a knife sharpener.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Memorizing the Pentateuch. Putting all my savings in bronze.

What is your motto?
"My father was a milkman. So, I delivered milk." — Karl Malden


Rob Benvie is from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and currently lives in Montreal. He has recorded and performed with many musical endeavours, including the rock bands Thrush Hermit, Camouflage Nights and The Dears. He is the author of Safety of War.

For more information about Maintenance please visit the Coach House Books website.

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

Check back for more Proust Questionnaires with great Canadian writers.

Related item from our archives

JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications

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