Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Michael Mirolla

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Michael Mirolla

Michael Mirolla's Torp (Linda Leith Publishing), takes readers back to the Vancouver of the 1970s. When a philosophy professor innocently brings a charismatic student, known simply as "Torp", into his home, it is the beginning of a dark, bizarre mystery that juxtaposes urban bombings agains the gentle, flower power hippie era. Who, or what, is Torp, and have Giulio di Orio and his wife Nicole made a terrible mistake in allowing him through their door? The answer comes in a taut narrative that is part love story and part mystery.

Today we speak to Michael as part of our The Proust Questionnaire series, where we get to know authors on a personal level with our version of the famous questionnaire.

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.

Michaels tells us about why you'll want to be invited over for a glass of Scotch, why he doesn't mind a little insubordination and the last words he'd like to write.

What is your dream of happiness?

To always be — and dream of being — in the midst of writing.

What is your idea of misery?

To never be in the midst of writing.

Where would you like to live?

I don’t care — mountain top/ocean bottom — so long as I can write.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?

Honesty, clarity, empathy, the ability to laugh at himself.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?

Honesty, clarity, empathy, the ability to laugh at herself.

What is your chief characteristic?

Examining all sides of a situation.

What is your principal fault?

Not reacting fast enough — too much examining.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Drinking $100 single malt from Islay.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?

Insubordination, having been brought up in a very strict environment.

What do you value most about your friends?

Intelligence, grace under fire and mutual loyalty.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?

Self-importance combined with a lack of a sense of humour.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?

Difficulty in displaying emotions outwardly.

What is your favourite virtue?

Tolerance with a hint of anger.

What is your favourite occupation?

Hah! Writing.

What would you like to be?

Astronaut heading to the outer planets.

What is your favourite colour?


What is your favourite flower?


What is your favourite bird?


What historical figure do you admire the most?


What character in history do you most dislike?

Queen Victoria.

Who are your favourite prose authors?

Dostoyevsky, Conrad, Joyce, Kafka, Woolf, Beckett.

Who are your favourite poets?

Frost, Plath, Eliot, Heaney.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?

Joseph K, The Hunger Artist, Bloom, Stephen Dedalus.

Who are your heroes in real life?

Socrates, Joan of Arc, Gandhi, Tommy Douglas, JFK, Mandela.

Who is your favourite painter?


Who is your favourite musician?

Bob Dylan.

What is your favourite food?

Pizz’ e minestre — Cornmeal and cabbage

What is your favourite drink?

Homemade red.

What are your favourite names?

Jackie, Medea, GianCarlo, Gabriel, Christopher, Daniel, Briallen.

What is it you most dislike?

Lack of toilet paper.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?

Striker in soccer.

How do you want to die?

At the computer inputting “The End”.

What is your current state of mind?

Somewhat wind-blown and frazzled but trying to maintain a steady course.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

Having stayed married for 45 years.

What is your motto?

Forget (or replace with a four-letter word) the motto: just do the work!

Michael Mirolla

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