Monday, April 26, 2010


This week’s Proust Questionnaire contestant is an author who has been previously interviewed by The Corresponding Society. See below,

Introduction to James Hannaham

James Hannaham, writer. Of what? Well, his stories have appeared in The Literary Review, Open City and Nerve, and one has shown up in One Story. He has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, The Blue Mountain Center, Chateau de Lavigny, and Fundacion Valparaiso. He teaches creative writing at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and lives near there. His first novel, God Says No came out through McSweeney's Books in late May of 2009. An excerpt from the book appears in McSweeney’s 31, which looks a lot like a yearbook, binding-wise.

He has also written reviews and profiles for The Village Voice, Spin, Blender, Out, Us, New York, The Barnes & Noble Review, and once, circa 1997, a tiny sidebar in the front section of The New York Times Magazine. He was on staff in the culture department of Salon for most of 2008. Then the crash came, and with it, layoffs. He's been okay since then--thanks for asking. Starting work on several new projects, applying for grants and fellowships and jobs, etc.

He is a founder and former member of Elevator Repair Service.

James Hannaham Answers the Proust Questionnaire

Your favorite virtue.
Of my own: Patience. Of others: Compassion.

Your favorite qualities in a man.
Bashfulness. Flirtatiousness.

Your favorite qualities in a woman.
Wit. Forthrightness.

Your chief characteristic.
Mysteriousness. Inscrutability.

What you appreciate the most in your friends.

Your main fault.
I often think I’m probably right. Though I’m willing to believe I’m full of shit.

Your favorite occupation.
Does novelist still count as an occupation?

Your idea of happiness.
Time to write plus financial support.

Your idea of misery.
Being stuck under a corporate glass ceiling at an unethical, creepy organization.

If not yourself, who would you be?
Kelefa Sanneh.

Where would you like to live?
Earth, please. Other planets seem so inhospitable!

Your favorite prose authors.
Halldór Laxness, Lydia Millet, Yukio Mishima, Richard Wright, etc etc etc.

Your favorite poets.
Ron Padgett, Marianne Moore, Emily D., Robinson Jeffers, Stephen Dunn, Sylvia Plath, Susan Briante, Patricia Smith, Jackson Mac Low, etc etc etc

Your favorite heroes in fiction.
Portnoy, Charles Kinbote, Ferdinand the Bull, Don Quixote

Your favorite heroines in fiction.
Lily Bart, Sethe, Portia (I know it’s drama), Mitsuko (from Masumura’s film Manji), Kazu (from Mishima’s After the Banquet)

Your favorite painters and composers.
Kara Walker, Larry Walker, James Rosenquist, Marcel Duchamp, Gary Hill, Caravaggio, Vija Celmins, Mark Rothko, Philip Guston, Adrian Piper, Beethoven, John Cage, Morton Feldman, Andrew May, etc etc etc

Your heroes in “real life.”
Brendan Moran, my mother, Kara Walker, Larry Walker, Daniel Clymer, Shaffiq Essajee, Eric Sawyer.

What characters in history do you most dislike?
Anyone who has killed a lot of people. Whether or not they regret it.

Your favorite names.
Lloyd. Floyd. Kyle. Lyle. Anything Italian: Artemesia Gentilleschi, Fra Fillipo Lippi, Mariangela Melato, Giancarlo Gianinni—heck, even Silvio Berlusconi, though I despise the guy himself.

What do you hate the most?
Cruelty mixed with indifference.

What military event do you admire the most?
The US Army going to Haiti to help earthquake victims.

What reform do you admire the most?
The New Deal or The Great Society. Or reform school.

The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with.
I wish I could shit legal tender. Is that natural?

How do you wish to die?
I don’t wish to die. You needn’t beg the question.

What is your present state of mind?
Relatively calm. Normal.

For what fault do you have the most toleration?
Snobbery. Love me some snobs. Where my snobs at? Holla!

Your favorite motto.
Do unto others—then split!

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