Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Joey Comeau

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The Proust Questionnaire, with Joey Comeau

Joey Comeau will be one of four featured authors at the inaugural Toronto Literary Salon on April 27th at The Spoke Club. He writes the comic A Softer World, which has appeared recently in The Guardian and been profiled in Rolling Stone. He's the author of One Bloody Thing After Another, Overqualified and Lockpick Pornography. You can find him online at

In his answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Joey tells us about his greatest extravagance, his idea of misery, his motto 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" personality.


What is your dream of happiness?
A life of equal parts adventure and relaxation! Weeks of travel to new places and meeting new people, and then weeks of hiding out at home reading comic books, watching TV on DVD and taking naps whenever I want. Oh, that's the life!

What is your idea of misery?
A world without The Muppet Show.

Where would you like to live?
I like Toronto, but have always wanted to live in France. Unfortunately I hate Paris. I've been a few times, and there are just too many people. That's my problem with London, too. It's just too crazy crowded. Of all the places I've visited, I think Edinburgh Scotland is the nicest. Nice people, beautiful place. But maybe a bit too small a city for me. Portland is also kind of awesome! Some place with good weather, interesting culture, pretty scenery and lots of queers!

What qualities do you admire most in a man?

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Unhinged violence and disrespect of authority.

What is your chief characteristic?
Unhinged violence and disrespect of authority?

What is your principal fault?

What is your greatest extravagance?
I like to travel by train, which is stupidly more expensive than planes and takes days instead of hours, but it's such a nice way to see the countryside and allows for naps and reading and all sorts of inane chat with strangers.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Promiscuity and immodesty.

What do you value most about your friends?
Conversation and hugs.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
Certainty and outspokenness, especially when combined with low intelligence.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
Forgetfulness. Not just because it means something that should get done does not get done, but because it means something went wrong in my brain. I hope I never get Alzheimer's. If I do, don't tell me, okay?

What is your favourite virtue?
In myself or others? I guess empathy for both. I think it is important.

What is your favourite occupation?
Astronauts would have been my answer when I was a kid, but now, with the sad state of the space program, I guess I'll have to go with sex workers. They get a bad rap. So, I'd like to go on record as saying, "Criminalizing sex work is a jerky move, Iceland."

What would you like to be?
I'd like to be a whole litter of puppies, so I could just roll around with myself all day and yap at strangers and love everybody. Oh my goodness so fluffy!

What is your favourite colour?
These questions are silly. I haven't got a favourite colour.

What is your favourite flower?
The fire flower from Super Mario Brothers.

What is your favourite bird?
Big Bird, who is kind of stupid, but oh so pleasant. I will, with permission, quote Jimmy Stewart from the movie Harvey: "Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, 'In this world, Elwood, you must be' - she always called me Elwood – 'In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.' Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me."

What historical figure do you admire the most?
The writer Jane Bowles, or Mikhail Tal, who played chess like a goddamn maniac.

What character in history do you most dislike?
I'll tell you what my favourite comic book is, instead, because that probably won't be on here. Tekkonkinkreet by Taiyo Matsumoto, which is about two young homeless brothers and their relationship to one another and the city they live in, and it is the most intense and violent and amazing .

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Jane Bowles and Morley Callaghan and Helen DeWitt.

Who are your favourite poets?
I do not have any favourite poets.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Black, from Tekkonkinkreet. Elwood, from Harvey. Pee Wee Herman, from Pee Wee's Big Adventure. House and Norm Macdonald.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Patricia Highsmith, in some ways.

Who is your favourite painter?
I do not have a favourite painter.

Who is your favourite musician?
John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats is great!

What is your favourite food?
I don't have a favourite food. Maybe candy?

What is your favourite drink?

What are your favourite names?
Mavis and Mitchie.

What is it you most dislike?
People who are always looking for something to be upset or unhappy about.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
It would be fun to learn to draw, but more than that, I wish I had a better ear for the different tones of Cantonese. That language kills me. I might be tone deaf.

How do you want to die?
This is the kind of question where you want to be sure of the spirit it's being asked in, before you answer.

What is your current state of mind?

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Not yet.

What is your motto?
Be the trouble you want to see in the world.


For more information about One Bloody Thing After Another and Overqualified please visit the ECW Press 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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