Proust Questionnaire 2: Nuala Ní Chonchúir

Image

Nuala Ní Chonchúir is a writer who has published various collections of poetry, a novel, and short stories, with her latest collection Mother America, published last year by New Island Publishing.

She will be taking part in the Faber Social on 25th May in The Clarence Suite, which will launch Town & Country: New Irish Short Stories, edited by Kevin Barry. The anthology features new work from Nuala, Paul Murray, Patrick McCabe and Eimear Ryan, among others.

What is your idea of happiness?

At home, with husband and kids, fire lit, good veggie food, a tasty Rioja. Everyone safe, together, happy.

What is your favourite virtue?

Prudence.

What do you most value in your friends?

The ability to listen as much as wanting to be listened to.

What is your biggest weakness?

Impatience.

What is your most marked characteristic?

Doggedness.

What is your idea of misery?

Being a nun.

What is your favourite bird?

Robin.

Who are your favourite writers?

Anne Enright, Flannery O’Connor, Edna O’Brien.

Who are your favourite musicians?

Rufus Wainwright, Regina Spektor, Martha Wainwright.

Who are your favourite heroes and heroines in fiction?

Jane Eyre, Red Riding Hood, Julius Winsome.

Who are your favourite heroes and heroines in history?

Joan of Arc, Granuaile.

What is your favourite food and drink?

Chana Masala and red wine (but not together).

Which historical figures do you most dislike?

Rilke, Hitler, Hindley.

What event in history do you most admire?

The building of Newgrange.

What social movement do you most admire?

Feminism.

What is your present state of mind?

Crabbily content.

Which fault in others do you most easily tolerate?

Greed.

Which fault in yourself do you most easily tolerate?

Worrying (though I shouldn’t tolerate it).

(SK)

Advertisements

Proust Questionnaire 1: Richard Ford

ImageRichard Ford’s work has spanned almost four decades, and moving between short stories and novels, he has provided some of the most thoughtful and poetic writing of recent memory. The Sportswriter is a particularly radiant achievement, and introduced the character Frank Bascombe, who would feature in later work such as the Pulitzer Prize-winning Independence Day, and The Lay of the Land. But it is his sense of clarity and purchase on the subtleties that harness everyday living and make lives epic that make him a great writer. It comes as little surprise to hear that he admires John McGahern’s work so much, since their work stems from similar impulses; from their acute connection to particular rhythms of language, to a sense of art being the only redemptive idea left, their characters constantly struggling for that wispy, elusive notion of “self”.

It seems fitting therefore, on the day of the festival programme launch, that this great writer begins our series of Proust Questionnaires.

 What is your idea of happiness?

Choosing what I want to do; in particular, doing something with my wife.

Where would you most like to live?

I live there [Maine].

 What is your favourite virtue?

Persistence (is that a virtue?).

What is your most marked characteristic?

Persistence.

Who are your favourite writers?

Being a writer, myself, I don’t really have to choose.

Which historical figures do you most dislike?

I don’t have personal feelings about historical figures. I’d need to know them.

 What event in history do you most admire?

The American Civil Rights Movement.

What is your present state of mind?

I don’t know.

Who are your favourite heroes and heroines in history?

I don’t have heroes or heroines.

 What is your favourite food and drink?

I don’t have to choose.

 Who are your favourite musicians?

Ditto.

Who are your favourite heroes and heroines in fiction?

This isn’t really a question.

(SK)

Proust!

“Everything great in the world comes from neurotics.” – Proust

During the coming weeks, there will be some essays and interviews with contributors to this years Dublin Writers Festival, but the oddities part will start today, with The Proust Questionnaire.

The Proust Questionnaire refers back to a series of questions the teenage Marcel Proust completed at the end of the nineteenth century, borne from the idea that you can never truly understand others, until you understand yourself.

And so I have asked various writers, comics, musicians, and creative thinkers to answer various aspects of the questionnaire. Some are featuring in this years festival, and some are not – but one thing they all have in common is their love of books, and reading.

“If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time.”- Proust

(SK)