Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Liam Card

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Liam Card

Screenwriter Liam Card has branched out into fiction with his debut novel, Exit Papers from Paradise (Dundurn), the story of 35-year-old plumber Isaac Sullivan, who has longed all his life to become a surgeon.

In his answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Liam tells Open Book about songwriters as poets, the appeal of the hummingbird and what to eat during a baseball game.

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?
Good health. And the good health of my friends and family.

What is your idea of misery?
Being a prisoner of war.

Where would you like to live?
If I could import the house I grew up in, and the entire four acres surrounding that house, and set it down in the Riverdale area of Toronto … I’d be thrilled.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Honesty. Integrity. Loyalty. … Good scotch collection.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Honesty. Integrity. Loyalty.

What is your chief characteristic?
Chronically dreaming big.

What is your principal fault?
Sweating the small things.

What is your greatest extravagance?
The gifts I buy for my wife and daughter.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Not knowing the answer.

What do you value most about your friends?
That, if called upon, they are the first responders to the highs and lows that make up my life.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
Sweating the small stuff.

What is your favourite virtue?

What is your favourite occupation?
Artist or Professional Athlete.

What would you like to be?
A novelist, actor, screenwriter, Olympic track star … who also plays centre field for the Toronto Blue Jays.

What is your favourite colour?

What is your favourite flower?
The sunflower. Huge, gorgeous, blooms and delicious seeds for watching a baseball game.

What is your favourite bird?
The hummingbird. Those quirky little buggers are incredible athletes. At my parent’s house, they have a hummingbird feeder hanging from a tree branch above the patio. I could watch them all day. Did you know they swordfight each other? It’s wild.

What historical figure do you admire the most?
An artist: Mozart. An athlete: Jessie Owens. A politician: Nelson Mandela.

What character in history do you most dislike?
Sadly, this list is quite long. Let’s say this: Any leader whose response to a difference of religion, culture or opinion was to completely eradicate the other side via genocide/ethnic cleansing.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Kurt Vonnegut and Chuck Palahniuk.

Who are your favourite poets?
Generally, songwriters are my favourite poets: Jim Morrison (Google the lyrics to “The Crystal Ship”), Ron Sexsmith (Google the lyrics to “Secret Heart”), and Brandon Flowers (Google the lyrics to “Dustland Fairytale”).

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Those who sacrifice their lives or well-being for the greater good.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Those who sacrifice their lives or well-being for the greater good. Or, those who spend their lives raising money to help those greatly in need.

Who is your favourite painter?
Yvonne Scott. Check out her work. Aside from her brilliant work on canvas, she also solders together Robots using pieces of rusted old machinery that she collects from scrapyards around Calgary. Everyone should have one of these for their backyard. If one happens to come to life and fight evil, so be it. No, you will not get a refund in that case.

Who is your favourite musician?
I’d be lying if I chose only one and wrote their name here. In my mind, the others (who more than qualify to be represented here) would be hurt. Having said that, I find The Killers to be spectacular. Fifteen years ago, I wouldn’t have screwed around with the first part here and would have confidently written, Guns’ n’ Roses.

What is your favourite food?
If I’m hungry, whatever is being served (minus liver).

What is your favourite drink?
An Islay, single-malt Scotch (Lagavulin, Laphroaig, etc.) It is like a delicious campfire in your mouth.

What are your favourite names?
Kelda, Elodie, Breanne, Clive and Mary … and Axl.

What is it you most dislike?
Religious fundamentalism. That, or any religious person who believes that their take on faith is the correct version, and attempts to convert you, because (should they fail) you are surely damned to Hell, or whatever “Hell equivalent” exists for all of the major faiths.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
Remembering the names of people I have met in the past with a 100% success rate. Oh, and also the conditions and the setting by which I met them.

How do you want to die?
Long before my daughter.

What is your current state of mind?

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Having unprotected sex with my fiancé (at the time) and creating my daughter. She is a riot. I love her more than anything.

What is your motto?
If you are going to bother doing something, attempt greatness.

Liam Card studied writing at the University of Iowa and the University of North Carolina, respectively, graduating with a B.A. in communication studies while on a full track and field scholarship at both universities. A screenwriter, Liam lives in Toronto.

For more information about Exit Papers from Paradise please visit the Dundurn website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Check out all the Proust Questionnaire interviews in our archives.

Related item from our archives

JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications


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