Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Warwick's Questionnaire: Gary Shteyngart

The so-called Proust Questionnaire was originally a 19th-century parlor game designed to reveal bits of the soul, personality, & deep secrets of the participants through a series of pointed questions.  Marcel Proust was a big fan of the game and took the quiz several times during his lifetime - enthusiastically enough that the world has named the quiz after him.  Modern versions can be seen in the back pages of Vanity Fair (take the interactive quiz on vanityfair.com) and from James Lipton, host of Inside the Actor's Studio ("What is a sound you love?" etc.)  But nothing screams 19th-century parlor game like an independent bookstore in California, right?  So we've devised a ten question version of the Proust Questionnaire that we will be posing to the authors that visit the store.

Gary Shteyngart, author of the critically acclaimed novels The Russian Debutante's Handbook, Absurdistan, and the brand-new Super Sad True Love Story, was kind enough to be the very first participant in our debut version of the Warwick's Questionnaire - ten questions designed to reveal the dark reaches of an author's soul.  Or something like that.  Gary's answers mostly have to do with boiling water and Mark Twain. 

Gary Shteyngart, willing participant
1. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
  • Turning 38 without learning how to drive or boil water.
2. What is your greatest fear?
  • Dying in a car crash or being horribly burned by boiling water.
3. If you were a superhero, what would your power be?
  • The power to drive while using a tea kettle.
4. If you could bring one writer back from the dead, who would it be?
  • Mark Twain.  Duh.
5. What is your most treasured possession?
  • A Stalin-era copy of Tom Sawyer in Russian.
6. What do you dislike the most about your appearance?
  • The stuff below the neck.  The head's not great either.
7. What are you most looking forward to seeing on your tour stop in San Diego?
  • The Pacific Ocean. I've heard good things!
8. Was James Franco your prettiest student? (Actor Franco was one of Gary's students in the Creative Writing MFA program at Columbia University.)
  • Columbia is known for its hot student bod. He blended in nicely.
9. If dachshunds didn't exist, what would be your favorite dog? (Gary owns a longhaired wiener dog.  Not a euphemism.)
  • If dachshunds didn't exist I wouldn't want to live either.  Who would make me smile?
10. What is your motto?
  • "Can you please boil some tea for me and then drive me to the airport?"
Gary Shteyngart will be at Warwick's on Wednesday, August 11th at 7:30pm to discuss and sign his new novel, Super Sad True Love Story.  Check out the book trailer:

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