Trillium Book Award Author Readings June 16

The Proust Questionnaire, with Kerry Clare

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Kerry Clare

Kerry Clare reads and writes in Toronto. Her book reviews appear regularly in Quill & Quire, she?s published fiction in The New Quarterly and room, and she has literary essays forthcoming in Canadian Notes & Queries and Prairie Fire. For fun, she writes about books and reading at

In her answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Kerry tells us about her favourite names, her greatest accomplishments, her admiration for the mother in Mary Poppins 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 hammock, an afternoon and a book. And cake.

What is your idea of misery?
Having a newborn baby

Where would you like to live?
San Francisco. It is the best place I have ever been. Failing that, in my apartment, which is the second-best place I have ever been.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
An ability to laugh at himself, kindness, an English accent.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
A talent for friendship.

What is your chief characteristic?

What is your principal fault?
Sarcasm. And interrupting.

What is your greatest extravagance?

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Gossiping, overeating.

What do you value most about your friends?
Everything. But in particular, reliability.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?

What is your favourite virtue?

What is your favourite occupation?
Stay at home mom. Which would be a way better if I didn?t have a child, but I do get lots of time to lie down and read books. If that doesn?t work out, I would like Elissa Schappel?s job doing the ?Hot Type? column for Vanity Fair. Her stacks are always so appealing.

What would you like to be?
Idly rich. Though I?m idly not-rich right now, and it?s really not so bad either....

What is your favourite colour?

What is your favourite flower?

What is your favourite bird?

What historical figure do you admire the most?
The mother from Mary Poppins.

What character in history do you most dislike?
Gavrilo Princip.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Carol Shields, Margaret Drabble, Joan Didion, Penelope Lively, Barbara Pym, Hilary Mantel, Zadie Smith, Margaret Atwood.

Who are your favourite poets?
Jennica Harper.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Harriet M. Welch, Anne Shirley.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Rebecca Rosenblum.

Who is your favourite painter?
I don?t have a favourite painter, but my favourite painting is ?Fisher Price Mother Russia? by Kirsten Johnston.

Who is your favourite musician?
Dar Williams, Crowded House.

What is your favourite food?
Feta with everything.

What is your favourite drink?
Tea, iced or otherwise.

What are your favourite names?
Harriet Lawler, Henrietta Stackpole, Tabitha Stevens, Julie Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Zelda Fitzgerald.

What is it you most dislike?
Reader comments on online news articles.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
One for languages!

How do you want to die?
In a blaze of glory, obviously. And after that, I want to lay down in a bed of roses, though tonight I?ll sleep on a bed of nails.

What is your current state of mind?

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
My little tiny writing career, because I made it out of nothing. Also, my marriage.

What is your motto?
That one about being the change you wish to see in the world.... Or something about how mottos are dumb.


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

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