The Proust Questionnaire, with Christopher Meades
Christopher Meades is the author of The Last Hiccup (ECW Press), a darkly funny novel set in 1930s Russia. The Last Hiccup tells the story of Vlad, an eight-year-old boy whose hiccups last more than a decade and change the course of his entire life.
In his answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Christopher tells Open Book about about the importance of a good bluff, his very specific favourite colour and his penchant for villains.
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?
My family being healthy, becoming a successful author without having to compromise, never having to work a day job again
What is your idea of misery?
Working a day job without any other aspirations
Where would you like to live?
By the beach, but in the rain…
What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Sense of humour, respect for women, the ability to (successfully) bluff an entire poker table with seven deuce offsuit
What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Ambition, kindness and self-reliance
What is your chief characteristic?
Humour mixed with four years of “young-child-induced” sleep deprivation
What is your principal fault?
The tendency to put my foot in my mouth (and not realize it until the next day)
What is your greatest extravagance?
Take-out restaurant food
What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Slow walking people cutting me off in the mall
What do you value most about your friends?
What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
The inability to let anything go
What is your favourite virtue?
Kindness. There’s a big difference between just being polite & actually being kind. When you find someone who is kind, you hold onto them forever.
What is your favourite occupation?
What would you like to be?
Healthy & happy, famous enough as an author that people know my name, but don’t recognize me when I walk into their 7-11
What is your favourite colour?
That shade of red Mick Jagger was wearing in the Rolling Stones’ “Anybody Seen My Baby” video.
What is your favourite flower?
You mean to eat, right?
What is your favourite bird?
You mean to eat, right?
What historical figure do you admire the most?
Judas. He took one for the team.
What character in history do you most dislike?
Joseph Mengele. It makes me feel ill that he never paid for his crimes.
Who are your favourite prose authors?
Vladimir Nabokov & Patrick Suskind. They’re on a completely different level than any other authors I’ve ever read.
Who are your favourite poets?
Bren Simmers, Janet Frame
Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Actually, I prefer the villains. Even back in the day, I always used to cheer for King Kong Bundy to splash Hulk Hogan. In fiction, innately twisted characters like Nabokov’s Humbert Humbert are far more interesting than the Jane Eyres of the world.
Who are your heroes in real life?
Single moms and single dads.
Who is your favourite painter?
Salvador Dali. There’s just something about those melting clocks that I can stare at for hours.
Who is your favourite musician?
Sarah Slean. She’s Canada’s best kept secret. She should have been “Sarah McLachlan level” famous years ago.
What is your favourite food?
Ishi Yaki, this Japanese hot stone bowl dish. It’s amazing. That & an un-fried chimichanga are my two “last meal” death row requests
What is your favourite drink?
That syrup filled with codeine the doctor gives you to knock you out when you’re sick
What are your favourite names?
Magnus, Delilah, Vladimir, Layla
What is it you most dislike?
What natural talent would you most like to possess?
I wish that I could skate like the wind
How do you want to die?
In battle, knowingly, gloriously, moments after achieving my vengeance
What is your current state of mind?
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
First, my family, my wife & two daughters. (I never thought I would be a father, but now that I am, I couldn’t live without my girls).
Second, my novel The Last Hiccup. My publisher was extremely supportive, my editor (gently) steered me in the right direction and I didn’t have to compromise my vision in the slightest. I’m just so thrilled it’s out in the world now.
What is your motto?
A goal without an action plan is just a daydream
Check back for more Proust Questionnaires with great Canadian writers.