Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with David Gilmour

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David Gilmour

Most recently the author of The Perfect Order of Things (Thomas Allen), David Gilmour is Governor General's Literary Award-winning writer, working in both fiction and non-fiction.

In his answers to the Proust Questionnaire, David Gilmour tells Open Book about good wine and food, the coolest guy in literature and much 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?
Seeing my children happy

What is your idea of misery?
Being obligated to work for — and put up with — a bullying employer

Where would you like to live?

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
A generosity of spirit

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Unself-conscious beauty

What is your chief characteristic?
I am less fearful than most people

What is your principal fault?
Assuming that people are being intentionally hurtful when they're not

What is your greatest extravagance?
Eating in restaurants every night

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Romantic obsessions

What do you value most about your friends?
Their liking what I like about me

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
Two things: Emotional cruelty and men who are frightened of their wives

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
A need for people to be impressed by me

What is your favourite virtue?

What is your favourite occupation?

What would you like to be?
A grown up

What is your favourite colour?

What is your favourite flower?

What is your favourite bird?

What historical figure do you admire the most?
Anton Chekhov, the coolest guy in literature

What character in history do you most dislike?
Stalin and Rob Ford and Newt Gingrich

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Tolstoy, Proust, Chekhov, Truman Capote and Scott Fizgerald

Who are your favourite poets?
Don't have one

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Nick in Gatsby, Rostov in War and Peace, and Capote's first person narrator in Breakfast at Tiffany's

Who are your heroes in real life?
Bill Clinton

Who is your favourite painter?
The Impressionists

Who is your favourite musician?
The Beatles

What is your favourite food?
Halibut at Messis Restaurant in Toronto or steak frites at Balzar's in Paris

What is your favourite drink?
California cabs (over 25 dollars a bottle)

What are your favourite names?
David and Sally, Natasha

What is it you most dislike?

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
Musical talent

How do you want to die?
With my wife Tina Gladstone holding my hand

What is your current state of mind?

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Getting published

What is your motto?
Don't have one


For more information about The Perfect Order of Things, please visit the Thomas Allen 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.

Related item from our archives

JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications


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