The Proust Questionnaire, with Lynne Sherry McLean of Ridgeway, ON

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Lynne Sherry McLean is a band member of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory and also has blood ties to Alderville First Nations. A novelist and poet, Lynne writes with the voices of First Nations people as a constant melody line in her work. In Niagara, Lynne lives in a richly treed area on the shores of Lake Erie, and so feels “there is an abiding song from this Lady Earth dancing in my blood and I am compelled to express it in all that I do.” Her first novel, Where Mary Went (Theytus Books, 2010) was launched this September to a packed house at the St. Catharines Chapters.

In her answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Lynne tells us her greatest accomplishment, her motto, her idea of misery 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?
To be a Happiness Ninja

What is your idea of misery?
To miss the happiness boat

Where would you like to live?
In the Here and Now

What qualities do you admire most in a man?

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?

What is your chief characteristic?

What is your principal fault?
“…does not listen to instructions very well….”

What is your greatest extravagance?
Putting Cuba on my credit card

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?

What do you value most about your friends?
How much they love me

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
When they don’t love me

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
That I am messy

What is your favourite virtue?
That I am messy

What is your favourite occupation?

What would you like to be?
A rich and famous writer

What is your favourite colour?
Some days white, some days red, some days black

What is your favourite flower?
Dandelions—because you can make wine out of them and eat them, and they are good for your liver

What is your favourite bird?
Swans—they fly highest

What historical figure do you admire the most?

What character in history do you most dislike?
John from Pocahontas

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Chief Joseph, whose speeches inspired his people in their flight across the Rockies.

Who are your favourite poets?
Leonard Cohen

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?

Who are your heroes in real life?
They adorn themselves in normal everyday clothing, and by day they occupy themselves with mostly mundane pastimes, but really their secret identities are that they are angels. Really, they are an angel-gang.

Who is your favourite painter?
Norval Morrisseau

Who is your favourite musician?
Buffy Sainte-Marie

What is your favourite food?
French fries

What is your favourite drink?

What are your favourite names?
Timothy, Shawnee and Grace

What is it you most dislike?
The movie Terms of Endearment

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
Singing in tune

How do you want to die?
“….with a peaceful easy feeling….”

What is your current state of mind?

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
How I have played the cards that have been dealt to me.

What is your motto?
There is no such thing as a free lunch….unless you need one.


For more information about Where Mary Went, please visit the Theytus Press website.

Read more about Lynne Sherry McLean in the St. Catharines Standard.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online 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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