The Proust Questionnaire, with Edward Kay
Edward Kay has had a long and successful career in television, both as a producer and as a writer. He produced the CBC's This Hour Has 22 Minutes for several years, and also wrote for, among other projects, Rick Mercer's infamous Talking to Americans. Kay is also the author of the recently released YA novel STAR Academy: Dark Secrets (Doubleday Canada).
In his answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Edward Kay tells Open Book about Malbecs, Bach and that one should always stay on the boat.
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" personality.
What is your dream of happiness?
Family and friends close by. Lots of creatively and intellectually stimulating conversation.
.What is your idea of misery?
An overcrowded Greyhound bus bound for nowhere, accompanied by a soundtrack of unwillingly overheard idiocy and a.m. radio hits from the ‘70s. I like you too much to name the titles.
Where would you like to live?
In an English cottage by the sea that magically is also within walking distance of Queen Street West and a well-stocked Vintages shop that offers a 50 percent discount for writers.
What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Intelligence, strength and compassion.
What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Wit, sensitivity and an appreciation for fine lingerie.
What is your chief characteristic?
Humour — my personal coping mechanism for a basic state of befuddlement with the world and most things in it.
What is your principal fault?
Being too nice then being annoyed about being too nice.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Choosing writing as a career instead of going into law.
What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Blind adoration of me. This hasn’t actually happened yet, but if it did, I would be lenient.
What do you value most about your friends?
Laughter, wit and kindness.
What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
Pretension and entitlement. Halitosis is no fun either.
What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
A tendency to try to do too many things at once.
What is your favourite virtue?
What is your favourite occupation?
What would you like to be?
Exactly what I am, only with a large inheritance.
What is your favourite colour?
In clothing, black. In nature, green.
What is your favourite flower?
What is your favourite bird?
The heron. I have learned a lot about patience by watching them hunt. Duck in the form of duck confit is another favourite of mine, for completely different reasons.
What historical figure do you admire the most?
What character in history do you most dislike?
Hitler, Stalin and whoever invented personal watercraft.
Who are your favourite prose authors?
Roald Dahl, Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood, V.S. Naipaul, Graham Greene.
Who are your favourite poets?
Dylan Thomas and Theodor Geisel.
Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Sherlock Holmes, Philip Marlowe and the Cat in the Hat.
Who are your heroes in real life?
The Dalai Lama, Winston Churchill.
Who is your favourite painter?
Hieronymus Bosch. Scary but witty, an irresistible combination for me.
Who is your favourite musician?
It’s a toss up between Leonard Cohen and J.S. Bach.
What is your favourite food?
Rack of lamb.
What is your favourite drink?
Red wine. A big Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec or Syrah are my favourites.
What are your favourite names?
Mika and Alex, because those are my kids’ names. I didn’t name either of them, but I’ve come to love those names.
What is it you most dislike?
Entrenched structures that squash the human spirit.
What natural talent would you most like to possess?
Either the ability to do backflips or predict stock market trends. Does x-ray vision count?
How do you want to die?
What is your current state of mind?
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Co-creating two amazing human beings who are strong, compassionate and full of love and laughter.
What is your motto?
“Never get off the boat.”
Check back for more Proust Questionnaires with Canada's literati in this series of interviews on Open Book.