Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Liz Worth

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July 29, 2011 - Liz Worth is Open Book's August 2011 Writer in Residence. In her answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Liz tells us about her heroes in real life and fiction, her dream of happiness 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?
Doing everything all the time. Or finally feeling satisfied that I’ve done enough.

What is your idea of misery?
Feeling like the best part of my life is forever behind me. I would hate to turn out to be one of those people so nostalgic about a certain time in their life that they can’t appreciate the present. Never having any time to myself, or time to create, which are often one and the same would be bad, too. Feeling like there’s no way out of a bad situation is also pretty frightening. I do think there’s always a way, out, even if it’s just a matter of changing your perspective.

Where would you like to live?
In the middle of everything, or in a forest in the middle of nowhere. Ideally I’ll have done both by the time I die.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Kindness, dependability, ambition, creativity, an open mind and a sense of humour.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Kindness, dependability, ambition, creativity, an open mind and a sense of humour.

What is your chief characteristic?
This is a tough one. Ambition might be it, but I don’t know. It makes me wonder how others see me. I don’t feel like we’re always the most accurate judges of our own character.

What is your principal fault?
Depends on who you ask. But since you’re asking me, I’d say it would be my ongoing need to be more assertive. I’ve had a tendency to say “sorry” when I really meant “fuck you” but I’ve been working on that.

What is your greatest extravagance?
One year I financed two trips to London, England on minimum-wage, part-time work and short-term temp jobs. It was totally worth the hustle.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Too many.

What do you value most about your friends?
Their sincerity, loyalty and acceptance.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
It would be a tie between egotism, self-entitlement and self-righteousness. They’re blinders that keep people out of reality and disconnected and resentful.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
I have trouble relaxing.

What is your favourite virtue?
A lot of people tell me I’m a good listener.

What is your favourite occupation?
Astrologers are pretty cool.

What would you like to be?
A cat or a wolf.

What is your favourite colour?

What is your favourite flower?

What is your favourite bird?
Sparrows are pretty cute.

What historical figure do you admire the most?
Carl Jung

What character in history do you most dislike?
I don’t know. There are several people I dislike, but none could be considered historical.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Chandra Mayor, Christy Ann Conlin, Daniel Jones, Darcey Steinke and Blake Nelson.

Who are your favourite poets?
Chandra Mayor, Christian Bök, Lydia Lunch, Exene Cervenka and Lynn Crosbie.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Ponyboy Curtis (The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton), Steve and Ghost (Lost Souls, Poppy Z. Brite), Gilbert Grape (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Peter Hughes)

Who are your heroes in real life?
I have a lot of heroes who I like to channel when I’m feeling knocked down, or when I’m questioning whether I’m doing the right thing.

Robert Smith from the Cure, because he’s always kept pushing himself to go beyond his last project; Roseanne Barr, because she’s hilarious and smart and accomplished and has overcome so much; Marilyn Monroe, who had so much wisdom; Kat Von D, for her ambition and endless creativity, as well as her resilience; Lydia Lunch, for all of her art and her fearless opinions on sexuality; Justine Musk, an author who works hard to connect with and inspire others to keep creating; and Kurt Cobain, who worked tirelessly at his music and his art.

That idea of tirelessness has also helped me find heroes in my own friends, or in people who aren’t as far removed from me as the bigger names above. My friend Mark Herbert is a prime example of someone who knows how to hustle: earlier this year he held down a full-time internship and a night job because he knows what he wants and he’s doing whatever it takes to get there. Every time I feel like I can’t push through with my own over-extended schedule, I think of him.

Who is your favourite painter?
Andy Warhol

Who is your favourite musician?
It’s not fair to ask me to pick just one. Can I say Robert Smith, Brian Wilson, Elliott Smith, Patti Smith, Kurt Cobain and Axl Rose? They’re all so different but all so important to me.

What is your favourite food?
I can eat a lot of cake.

What is your favourite drink?

What are your favourite names?
Victoria, Jacob and Sebastian.

What is it you most dislike?

What natural talent would you most like to possess?

How do you want to die?
I’d like to be eaten by an animal.

What is your current state of mind?
Not bad. Thanks for asking.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
I’ve had a lot of great experiences and opportunities, and I do feel like I’ve accomplished a lot, but I don’t like to think that the greatest has already happened. I like to think that’s yet to come.

What is your motto?
The future belongs to those who can see it.

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