Trillium Book Award Author Readings June 16

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The Proust Questionnaire, with Michael Blouin

Michael Blouin

Michael Blouin, winner of the 2009 ReLit Award for his debut novel Chase and Haven (Coach House Books), has just released his latest book of fiction with BookThug. In typical Blouin style, I Don't Know How to Behave breaks through all the boundaries, beginning with taking biographical details from the life of Canadian daredevil and stunt driver Ken Carter and melding them with his invented life stories for Canadian film director Bruce Mcdonald and Canadian poet Gillian Sze.

Michael has been shortlisted for the Amazon First Novel Award, the bpNichol Award and the CBC Literary Award. He's won the Diana Brebner Award and the 2012 Lampman Award. He's been published in most Canadian literary magazines including Arc, Descant, Branch, Dragnet, The Antigonish Review, Event, Queens Quarterly and The Fiddlehead, and has served as an adjudicator for The Ontario Arts Council, the Ottawa Book Awards, Carleton University and This Magazine.

Join Michael Blouin at the can't-miss book event of the season, the BookThug Fall Launch on Tuesday, October 1 at Toronto's Supermarket. Visit Open Book: Toronto's Events page for details.

In his candid answers to Proust Questionnaire, Michael tells us his idea of happiness, his greatest extravagance, his rules about tattoo grammar 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?

This is it. Here. Right Now.

What is your idea of misery?

Before. When you can’t get up off the floor, even to take your daughter to the circus. That.

Where would you like to live?

In the present.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?

Loyalty. It’s a hard one.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?

I admire everything about women.

What is your chief characteristic?

I work at it. Hard.

What is your principal fault?

I work at it. Hard.

What is your greatest extravagance?

A cherry red American-made Fender Stratocaster.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?

Any that I don’t see in myself.

What do you value most about your friends?


What characteristic do you dislike most in others?

There’s something wrong with that question.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?


What is your favourite virtue?

Trying. Perseverance.

What is your favourite occupation?


What would you like to be?


What is your favourite colour?


What is your favourite flower?

I like all flowers equally. But I don’t really think about them unless I’m planting them or watering them. Even then, my mind is likely elsewhere. I don’t really like flowers that much.

What is your favourite bird?

I like dogs.

What historical figure do you admire the most?

Jesus Christ.

What character in history do you most dislike?

All in all Hitler was a pretty shitty man.

Who are your favourite prose authors?

Joyce, Ondaatje (until, well, just up to a point…), and the Bible authors.

Who are your favourite poets?

bissett, Gil Scott Heron.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?

Leopold Bloom, Buddy Bolden.

Who are your heroes in real life?

See above. (And Jesse White, 14 years old).

Who is your favourite painter?

Basquiat, Freud, bissett, Bacon, Krieghoff, Beuys, Scott, Haring, Robbo, Koons, Close, Tuymans and Stewart Jones. There are so many that it’s an unfair question…

Who is your favourite musician?

Johnny Cash.

What is your favourite food?

Pizza. I have a condition that prevents me from eating it. Oh well.

What is your favourite drink?

Chocolate almond milk.
No, vodka.

No… it’s chocolate almond milk.

What are your favourite names?

Johnny. Cash. I named my dog Cash. He’s a good dog.

What is it you most dislike?

This question. It’s mean spirited. No, wait. Willful ignorance. Yes. That’s it.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?

The ability to play blues on a resonator guitar. Better than I do.

How do you want to die?

I’ve almost died or been killed nine times. Guns, knives, loss of blood, car, assault, misadventure… that’s enough variety. After all that I guess I’ll take quietly in bed.

What is your current state of mind?

Good. You?

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

My children. Wait, that’s not an accomplishment. My books. Feel pretty good about those. Still being here. The fact that God hasn’t given me a game misconduct and a suspension from play.

What is your motto?

Know who you owe. It’s tattooed on my arm. Yes, I know it should be “whom”.
Nobody tattoos “whom” on their arm.

Well, I don’t.

For more information about I Don't Know How to Behave please visit the BookThug Press website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore, online from the publisher or at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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


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