Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Dayle Furlong

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Dayle Furlong

After starting her literary career with an acclaimed collection of poetry, Dayle Furlong returns this winter with a novel set partially in her native Newfoundland.

Saltwater Cowboys (Dundurn Press) tells the story of Jack and Angela McCarthy, who find themselves facing financial ruin. Jack takes a mining job in desolate northern Alberta, taking Angela along with him. Things go from bad to worse when a friend of Jack's is driven to desperate (and criminal) lengths by his own financial troubles.

Today Dayle appears on Open Book to tackle the Proust Questionnaire, where she tells us about a very tasty extravagance, a fictional hero from an iconic Canadian novel and wrangling (what else, given Saltwater Cowboys?) salt.

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?
Exactly what I have right now: a happy marriage, the privilege of staying home and raising my child, time to read and write.

What is your idea of misery?
A job where an unhappy manager demeans competent staff.

Where would you like to live?
In the Caribbean.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Stability and playfulness.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Brave women who are upfront and don’t lie.

What is your chief characteristic?
I am upfront and don’t lie.

What is your principal fault?
I am not very brave.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Vanilla beans for baking.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?

What do you value most about your friends?
They have strong senses of humour.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
I am ridiculously impatient.

What is your favourite virtue?

What is your favourite occupation?

What would you like to be?
A sketch comedy actor.

What is your favourite colour?

What is your favourite flower?

What is your favourite bird?

What historical figure do you admire the most?
Martha Shepard (1911-2009) Librarian who established National Library of Canada.

What character in history do you most dislike?
The Marquis De Sade.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Russell Banks, John Irving, Margaret Atwood and Tom Wolfe.

Who are your favourite poets?
Gwendolyn MacEwan, Langston Hughes and William Blake.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Morag Gunn.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Chefs/cooks and bakers.

Who is your favourite painter?
Alex Colville.

Who is your favourite musician?
Paulo Nutini.

What is your favourite food?
Thai, Japanese and Chinese.

What is your favourite drink?
Decaf loose leaf black tea.

What are your favourite names?
Bronwyn, Ciaran and Gwendolyn.

What is it you most dislike?
Human trafficking.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
The ability to sing R&B/soul/gospel.

How do you want to die?
In my sleep after reading a good novel.

What is your current state of mind?
Humble, grateful and content.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Raising a child without losing my mind…I turned my back for five minutes to answer these questions and she’s managed to dump a box of salt on the kitchen floor.

What is your motto?
Sooner or later every good cowboy must wrangle salt from the kitchen floor (I couldn’t resist bringing the focus back to Saltwater Cowboys…).

Dayle Furlong is originally from Newfoundland and currently lives in Toronto. She studied Literature and Fine Arts at York University, and Creative Writing at Humber College, where she was granted an Award of Merit Fellowship for Fiction from the Summer Literary Seminar in 2011. Her first book of poems, Open Slowly, was called “reminiscent of ’70s feminist-Atwood” by Governor General's Award–winning poet George Elliott Clarke.

Check out all the Proust Questionnaire interviews in our archives.

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