This week we’re pleased to present answers to our version of the Proust Questionnaire provided by the brilliant Joshua Furst. Read it!
Introduction to Joshua Furst
Joshua Furst’s novel The Sabotage Café was named to the 2007 year-end best-of lists of the Chicago Tribune, the Rocky Mountain News and the Philadelphia City Paper, as well as being awarded the 2008 Grub Street Fiction Prize. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune said it “should not be missed by anyone who has an adolescent or has been one…The book is itself a kind of brick hurled at a Starbucks window, but much more dangerous in the end.”
His critically acclaimed book of stories, Short People, was published in 2003 and described by the Miami Herald as “a near magical collection.” The Los Angeles Times called it “Startling . . . a thoughtful if disturbing portrait of what it means to be a child. Or, more to the point, what it means to be human.” And the Times of London said "Any one of these stories is enough to break your heart. . . . Joshua Furst's debut is both enjoyable and important.”
His work has been published in the Chicago Tribune, Conjunctions, PEN America, Five Chapters and The New York Tyrant among many other places and given citations for notable achievement by The Best American Short Stories in 2005 and The O’Henry Awards in 2007.
He lives and teaches in New York City.
Joshua Furst Answers the Proust Questionnaire
Your favorite virtue.
Compassion…is this a virtue? Or is it just an uncommon kind of grace?
Your favorite qualities in a man.
Recklessness, vice and folly. These are also my least favorite qualities in a man. Men are frivolous creatures, in my experience.
Your favorite qualities in a woman.
Forgiveness (see above) and kindness.
Your chief characteristic.
Paranoia…but don’t take that to mean they’re not out to get me.
What you appreciate the most in your friends.
The long conversations during which we can briefly convince ourselves that we hold the world, whole, between us…oh, and their willingness to pretend that my crazy is a kind of normal.
Your main fault.
Your favorite occupation.
Getting it right.
Your idea of happiness.
A brief respite from fear.
Your idea of misery.
If not yourself, who would you be?
I’ve spent so long now pretending to be me that at this point I’m not convinced I could be anyone else if I wanted to.
Where would you like to live?
Far away from it all, right here in New York City.
Your favorite prose authors.
Samuel Beckett, Norman Mailer, Peter Handke, Joan Didion…ask me again tomorrow.
Your favorite poets.
Shakespeare, Baudelaire, Auden…does Dylan count?
Your favorite heroes in fiction.
Don Quixote, Huck Finn, Ivan Karamazov
Your favorite heroines in fiction.
Grace Paley’s Faith, Aurora Zogoiby from Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh
Your favorite painters and composers.
And artists of other stripes? Painters: Kokoschka, Klee, Rothko, and of course Picasso. But then, also, Modigliani, Edward Keinholtz, Gordon Matta Clark
Composers: Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell
Your heroes in “real life.”
Abbie Hoffman, George Orwell, Emma Goldman, and all other delusional idealists who refuse to shut up when told they’re being childish.
What characters in history do you most dislike?
Sanctimonious inquisitors like Savonarola, Joe McCarthy, Tipper Gore, and the rest of them…oh, and also, Hitler.
Your favorite names.
Do I have a favorite name? I’m not convinced I do.
What do you hate the most?
Mediocrity and those who strive for it.
What military event do you admire the most?
The Long March, the Storming of the Bastille…but of course, I’m not thrilled by the events that followed either of these great irruptions of idealism.
What reform do you admire the most?
I’m not sure I understand the question. You mean like the Emancipation Proclamation? If so, I’ll take that one, and you should too. But in general, I’m more inclined toward revolt than reform.
The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with.
A lack of self-consciousness.
How do you wish to die?
Having done something meaningful.
What is your present state of mind?
For what fault do you have the most toleration?
Your favorite motto.
The Lord said to Joshua, be bold, be brave, for I the Lord, your God, am with you always… not really a motto, but words to live by…