Trillium Book Award Author Readings June 16

The Proust Questionnaire, with Mark Frutkin

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Mark Frutkin

The author of Walking Backwards (Dundurn), Mark Frutkin is an award-winning fiction writer. His novel, Fabrizio?s Return, won the Trillium and Sunburst Awards and was a finalist for the Commonwealth Writers? Prize for Best Book (Canada/Caribbean Region). In 2008 he published a memoir, Erratic North: A Vietnam Draft Resister?s Life in the Canadian Bush.

In his answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Mark Frutkin tells Open Book his favourite occupation, his fictional heroes 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.


What is your dream of happiness?
Sun, shade, wine, books.

What is your idea of misery?
No sun, no shade, no wine, no books.

Where would you like to live?

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Gentleness and intelligence.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Beauty and intelligence.

What is your chief characteristic?

What is your principal fault?

What is your greatest extravagance?
Wine and books.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?

What do you value most about your friends?
Honesty and sense of humour.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
Willfull ignorance.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
See #7 above [what is your principal fault?].

What is your favourite virtue?
Vivid imagination.

What is your favourite occupation?

What would you like to be?
A writer.

What is your favourite colour?
Pure white.

What is your favourite flower?
Morning glories or white roses.

What is your favourite bird?

What historical figure do you admire the most?
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

What character in history do you most dislike?
Hitler, Stalin, Mao.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Beckett, Joyce, Garcia Marquez, Conrad, Ondaatje, Cervantes, Julian Barnes, Ann Patchett, Nabokov, Dostoyevsky, Melville, Flaubert, Guy Vanderhaeghe.

Who are your favourite poets?
Homer, Shakespeare, Apollinaire, Don McKay, Dante, George Eliot Clarke, Billy Collins, Eliot, Li Po, Tu Fu, Basho, Su T?ung Po, Wang Wei, Baudelaire, Mallarmee, Rumi, Leonard Cohen, Neruda.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Molly Bloom.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Dalai Lama, Gandhi, Martin Luther King.

Who is your favourite painter?
Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Matisse, Monet, Van Gogh.

Who is your favourite musician?
Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Keith Jarrett.

What is your favourite food?

What is your favourite drink?
Wine, cognac.

What are your favourite names?

What is it you most dislike?
Dishonesty, lack of imagination, willful ignorance.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
Ability to draw or play piano.

How do you want to die?
From old age.

What is your current state of mind?

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
The book I?m working on at the moment?.

What is your motto?
Never give up.


For more information about Walking Backwards, please visit the Dundurn website.

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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