While the questionnaire—a popular 19th-century French parlor game meant to reveal a respondent’s personality—is now associated with his name, Proust was not the originator of it. That distinction appears to belong Antoinette Faure, daughter of Félix Faure, president of France from 1895 to 1899. During her Paris tea salons, as an entertainment she would ask her guests to answer an identical series of questions, and have them record their answers, in longhand, in a special journal she kept for that specific purpose. Proust recorded his answers twice: once when he was in his early teens, and again when he was about 20.1. Of these, your reading preference: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama:
Fiction, but I'd also include non-fiction that reads like fiction.
2. Your favorite childhood book (or favorite childhood author):
I had three favorites. Something about a circus elephant. Something about a unicorn that gets trapped in a house. And Runaway Bunny.
3. Your favorite book character:
Leo from The History of Love
4. Your favorite book title (because you like the sound of it):
The Lost Lunar Baedaker Poems
Domesticated Wild Things
5. A book you could never finish:
I have to finish every book I start. No matter what. But I still haven't finished 1Q84 because I started it too close to the beginning of the school year. Will finish it over winter break.
6. A book you will never start:
Never say never.
7. If for some reason it turned out that you could save one and only one book from among those you own, which would it be:
The Man Suit by Zachary Schomburg. Hands down. That book has carried me through. If you've read it, I understand why you might think that sounds weird. But for revisiting, for developing prayers, for recitation after recitation, for finding a place for my mind to live.
8. A book you should have read but haven’t:
Moby Dick. Fuck.
9. The best “book as object” you own (how it looks over what it says):
Either Chris Ware's Building Stories or Jonathan Safran Foer's Tree of Codes.
10. Your reading speed: very slow, slow, moderate, fast, very fast:
Very fast. Job requirements and all...
11. While you read, are you a note-taker? If yes, where do you record your notes:
No. Unless I'm writing a paper or article or a review of the book, in which case I underline with pencil but make notes in my phone.
12. Your most idiosyncratic reading habit:
If I'm lying down to read, even if it's in the middle of the day, even if it's my favorite book, I can't not fall asleep. Much like every time I sit down in an airplane seat.
13. The most expensive book you’ve ever bought (and, if you can remember, the price):
Has to be Tree of Codes, which I think was $40. But only because I got a good deal on Building Stories, which usually goes for $50.
14. If you could be any author:
This question is far too complicated. Because would I just be this person as an author? As in, would I just be producing the things they wrote? Or would I be them in every way? Because I wish I'd written The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, but I feel weird saying I wish I could be her. So, to answer this question again, if I could be any author... I would be myself, but better.
15. If you are what you read, the book that best says who you are:
Nice try, question. But there is no singularity here. Part of me is the OCD in Alison Bechdel's Fun Home. Part of me is the tragic love stories of The History of Love. Part of me is the bitter, resentful, ever unresolved Unbearable Lightness of Being. So much of my past is the high school-ness of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Do you see what I mean?
16. Your favorite writer of the gender opposite yours:
17. The last book you bought:
Domesticated Wild Things by Xhenet Aliu. Technically it was a review copy, but still.
18. Your favorite place to purchase books:
Skylight Books in LA.
King's English in SLC.
El Ateneo in Buenos Aires.
The Strand in New York City.
Boulder Bookstore in Colorado.
19. The book you are currently reading:
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
20. The book you will read next:
I will finish 1Q84 after school is finally over for the semester.
21. The current location of the book you will read next:
At home in LA in its proper place on my bookshelf.
22. Your favorite format for books: paper or pixels:
Paper. For life.
23. If you could have written any book:
See question 14.
24. A book that was particularly meaningful to, or highly recommended by, an acquaintance of yours:
This question fails. It is so vague. Just an acquaintance? Or just someone I know? Just a book they liked or a book they liked that I then read? I'll just say anything Italo Calvino for all.
25. If you have the chance to plan it, the last book you’ll read:
A book written by someone in my life whom I love dearly. It probably hasn't been written yet.