Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with George Murray

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October 30, 2010 - George Murray is Open Book's November 2010 Writer in Residence. In his answer to the Proust Questionnaire, George tells us his dream of happiness, his chief characteristic 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" nature.


What is your dream of happiness?
A world in which there are four extra hours in the day so I might give equal attention to all the things I love.

What is your idea of misery?
Being away from my children for too long.

Where would you like to live?
I live where I would like to live: Newfoundland. But if not there, perhaps rural Italy, again.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Strength tempered by compulsive kindness and gentleness.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Strength tempered by compulsive kindness and gentleness.

What is your chief characteristic?
Optimistic pessimism.

What is your principal fault?
Pessimistic optimism.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Collecting books.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?

What do you value most about your friends?
Loyalty and humour.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
Confidence that comes off as arrogance.

What is your favourite virtue?

What would you like to be?
Independently wealthy.

What is your favourite bird?
Red-winged blackbird.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
JM Coetzee, Kazuo Ishiguro, Cormac McCarthy, Sarah Waters, Margaret Atwood, Michael Crummey, Lisa Moore.

Who are your favourite poets?
Geoffrey Hill, Richard Outram, Paul Durcan, Wislawa Szymborska, Gwendolyn MacEwan, AF Moritz, Don Coles, Ted Hughes, Anna Akhmatova.

Who is your favourite painter?
Famous: Georgia O’Keefe, Not Famous: Michael Pittman.

Who is your favourite musician?
Amelia Curran.

What is your favourite food?
Basil pesto.

What is your favourite drink?
Harp Lager.

What are your favourite names?
Silas and August (my boys).

What is it you most dislike?
Institutionalized racism/misogyny/classism.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
Perfect pitch.

How do you want to die?
So poorly that I can’t even complete the deal.

What is your current state of mind?
Wondrously addled by the intricacies of life.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Survival to 40.

What is your motto?
Mottos are for chumps.

Check back for more Proust Questionnaires with Canada's literati in this latest series of interviews on Open Book.

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