Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Pasha Malla

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May 27, 2012 - Pasha Malla is Open Book's June 2012 Writer in Residence. In his answer to the Proust Questionnaire, Pasha tells us about his greatest accomplishment, his principal fault and his dream of a house by the ocean.

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.

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What is your dream of happiness?
I have this dream, or not a dream, a fantasy, though not really a fantasy, because there are no goblins or naked people in it, so I guess an idea, an idea of this place, a quiet pretty place, a cottage, maybe, on a clifftop overlooking the ocean, and I am looking out the back window of this cottage at the ocean, and there is no glass in the window, for some reason, so I can hear the ocean crashing and roaring below, and I sense someone behind me, so I turn, and there is the woman I love, and she has fashioned me a delicious sandwich.

What is your idea of misery?
The above, except replace the sandwich with a bucket of two-headed snakes, the woman I love with some sort of succubus/vampire hybrid and the ocean with baseball.

Where would you like to live?
In that place, with the window and the ocean and the woman I love and the sandwich. I have checked Viewit; no luck so far.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
The ability to jump over a car.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
The same, but in petticoats.

What is your chief characteristic?
Body hair.

What is your principal fault?
Manscaping. As in, I don’t, and probably should.

What is your greatest extravagance?
The one time I bought Nair.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Shame.

What do you value most about your friends?
Their tolerance of my shame.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
Anything that mirrors my own insecurities.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
Mania.

What is your favourite virtue?
Comitas.

What is your favourite occupation?
Postal carrier.

What would you like to be?
Better.

What is your favourite colour?
Blue.

What is your favourite flower?
That blue one.

What is your favourite bird?
The Atlanta Hawk.

What historical figure do you admire the most?
Tesla.

What character in history do you most dislike?
Edison!

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Right now, though this will change next week: GK Chesterton, César Aira, Robert Walser, Gilbert Sorrentino, Nathalie Sarraute, Laszlo Krasznahorkai, Robert Musil, Lore Segal, Thomas Mann.

Who are your favourite poets?
Kevin Connolly, Jeramy Dodds, Matthea Harvey, Ben Doyle, Kenneth Koch, Rimbaud, Rilke, Nas.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Michonne from the Walking Dead comics.

Who are your heroes in real life?
My friend Mat. He won the Governor General’s Award for bravery. His heroism has been sanctioned and ordained.

Who is your favourite painter?
Jean-Léon Gérôme, Kazimir Malevich, Balint Zsako. Though generally I’m bad at remembering artists’ names.

Who is your favourite musician?
Currently: Earl Sweatshirt. All time: Sam Cooke.

What is your favourite food?
Sandwiches.

What is your favourite drink?
The unfortunately named Mother’s Milk Stout, by Keegan Ales.

What are your favourite names?
The ones I get called by mistake: Fasha, under which I actually have a Mastercard, Mrs. Fash Mall (American Express), Antonio Malla (BMO Investments), Sasha, Tasha, Patrick, Taco, etc.

What is it you most dislike?
Injustice. Also: bad smells.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
Math wizard.

How do you want to die?
This question is morbid. I hate it.

What is your current state of mind?
Bewildered by that last question, still.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Escaping quicksand (seriously).

What is your motto?
“I forgot my mantra.”

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

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