Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Evan Munday

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The Proust Questionnaire, with Evan Munday

Evan Munday is the publicist of Toronto-based literary press Coach House Books. In his spare time, he works as an illustrator. Upcoming projects include a young adult novel from ECW Press (The Dead Kid Detective Agency) and a graphic novel, The Laws of Motion, written by Elyse Friedman (from Freehand Books), both to be published in 2011. You can visit his rarely updated website at

In his answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Evan lets us in on his favourite virtue, his idea of misery and more, and he explains why 18th-cetury French painter Jacques-Louis David was a "Total badass." Join Evan at The Scream Literary Festival's The Hand That Feeds event on Thursday, July 8 at 7 p.m. at The Pilot.

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?
A stack of good CDs, a stack of papers for drawing and some sort of giant soft drink at my side.

What is your idea of misery?
That Sisyphus guy had to roll a giant boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back every time he did... throughout eternity. That sounds pretty rough.

Where would you like to live?
The not-so distant future. With hoverboards and jetpacks. But until then, Toronto will do just fine.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Shapely legs. But seriously, I admire men with confidence and modesty. Also, loyalty and kindness go a long way. And it helps if they’re funny.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
See above … shapely legs. But, for real: intelligence and a sense of humour. As well as a knack for knowing when to be cruel and when to be kind.

What is your chief characteristic?
Dexterity. (Are we still talking about AD & D?)

What is your principal fault?
That I’m a pushover. And often deceptive. (So, AM I a pushover?)

What is your greatest extravagance?
A while ago, I blew a bunch of money on some ultra-evangelical (and largely offensive) Jack T. Chick religious comic pamphlets. In retrospect, that probably wasn’t the wisest investment.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Most of them. I’m shockingly tolerant. Cowardice, for sure. I really had to defend Jeremy Davies’s character in Saving Private Ryan to many people.

What do you value most about your friends?
Their mere existence is pretty great, considering I probably wouldn’t be my friend if I weren’t me. Other than that, it’s hard to say. I don’t think my friends fit into a neat category. In general, though, they’re very supportive and caring of me. They’ve, like a good fighter pilot, got my six.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
Bullying and intimidation.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
My incessant attempt to make jokes. Can’t I shut up for once? A classmate in high school gave me the nickname "2C," as I always had to chip in my two cents. The nickname didn’t take off, but the point was made.

What is your favourite virtue?
Consciously, it would be Kindness. Subconsciously, probably Diligence.

What is your favourite occupation?
When I was a kid, I was really keen on being (at various points) a cab driver, a forensic accountant and a cartoonist. Maybe a taxi dispatcher would work best.

What would you like to be?
I wish I was a little bit taller. I wish I was a baller. I wish I had a girl who looked good, I would call her. I wish I had a rabbit and a hat with a bat and a ’64 Impala.

What is your favourite colour?
Argyle. Is plaid a colour?

What is your favourite flower?
Snapdragons, because they have a built-in associated action. Like a toy with kung-fu grip.

What is your favourite bird?

What historical figure do you admire the most?
Jacques-Louis David. This guy is a survivor. Pretty much the official painter for the French monarchy, the French Revolution and Napoleon. He went through three regimes as the pre-eminent painter of the regime. Nowadays, that kind of thing would get him called a sell-out, but something tells me David had a gift for talking his way out of situations. He also had an amazing facial wound from a fencing incident. Total badass.

What character in history do you most dislike?
I’m going to go old-school and say Emperor Nero. He has been in the running for the antichrist, lest we forget.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
I have to avoid Coach House authors (politically), so I’ll go with Joe Meno, Stephen Crane, Sheila Heti, Emily Schultz, Michael Chabon.

Who are your favourite poets?
Again, avoiding Coach House authors: Kevin Connolly, Zoe Whittall, Stuart Ross.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
George Bailey, Veronica Mars, Clark Kent, Speedball, Billy Argo, Dylan Edbus.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Yuri Gagarin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, that guy who stood in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square.

Who is your favourite painter?
Rene Magritte or Charles Demuth.

Who is your favourite musician?
Elvis Costello, if I had to pick just one.

What is your favourite food?

What is your favourite drink?
Varies from Dr. Pepper to Grape Crush.

What are your favourite names?
Alistair. Veronica. Renegade.

What is it you most dislike?
Lack of time... I mean, hatred. Yes, something serious like hatred.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
I’d love to be able to sing or make music. A good piece of music affects me more than any other piece of art.

How do you want to die?
In a hail of gunfire.

What is your current state of mind?
Disillusioned. G20 weekend in Toronto did not do much to lift my spirits.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
This pair of plaid pants I bought. They’re probably the greatest thing I’ve ever done.

What is your motto?
"I’ll sleep when I’m dead."


Check back for more Proust Questionnaires with Canada's literati in this latest series of interviews on Open Book.

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