Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Of Hell and Handbaskets

An embarrassing admission: the Proust Questionnaire makes me think first of Vanity Fair magazine, rather than the esteemed author. The assignment this week is to answer Mr. Proust's questionnaire from the point of view of your 20-year-old self. I'm not sure that I can do that, since I'm don't think I've matured much past 13.

Your most marked characteristic? My willingness to go to Hell in a handbasket. Seriously, if you can get me a ticket, I'll go.

The quality you most like in a man? Wit.

The quality you most like in a woman? Wit.

What do you most value in your friends? Trustworthiness.

What is your principle defect? Impatience.

What is your favorite occupation? Writing and traveling.

What is your dream of happiness? Going to Hell in a handbasket, then writing about it.

What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes? The inability, for whatever reason, to pursue one’s dreams.

What would you like to be? Better at writing first drafts.

What is your favorite color? Red.

What is your favorite flower? The lily.

What is your favorite bird? The crow.

Who are your favorite prose writers? Megan Abbott, Ken Bruen, Dennis Tafoya, Laura Lippman, Linda Fairstein, Walter Mosley, Dennis Lehane, Sara Gran, Truman Capote, Meg Gardiner, Harlan Ellison, Louise Penny, Reed Farrel Coleman, Chris F. Holm, Brad Parks... too many to list properly.

Who are your favorite heroines of fiction? Holly Golightly, Lily Bart, Lilly Dillon.

Who are your favorite composers? Sergei Rachmaninov and Bear McCreary.

Who are your favorite painters? The Pre-Raphaelites; also Théodore Géricault and Gustave Dore. I saw Géricault's The Raft of the Medusa and Dore's “The Enigma” for the first time when I was 19 and went to Paris for the first time, so this really could be an answer from 20-year-old me.

Who are your heroes in real life? People who make life better for others, and especially those who risk their own safety by doing so.

Who are your favorite heroines of history? Cleopatra, Boadicea, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Elizabeth I, Joan of Arc.

What is it you most dislike? Intolerance and willful ignorance.

How would you like to die? Peacefully.

What is your present state of mind? Obsessive.

To what faults do you feel most indulgent? Aside from cruelty, I think all faults are forgivable.

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Michael Wiley said...

Nice post, Hilary.

Like you, I'm pretty sure that at 20 I was little different from the kid I was at 13, except for the facial hair and more freedom to indulge in the many forms of indulgence that a 20 year old has access to.

I'm glad that your various tickets to hell were round trip.

Joshua Corin said...

But why a hand basket? I've always wondered. Is it for easy portability through the Infernal Gates? Do they have TSA posted there?

Hilary Davidson said...

Michael, thanks for commiserating instead of calling me immature. I used to think that one day I'd feel like an adult, but I've pretty much given up on that. Glad to know you feel the same way!

Josh, I have no idea how Hell and handbaskets were linked in the first place. As a travel writer, I can say that traveling by handbasket falls into the "least preferred" category. Maybe that's the point?

Thanks to you both for stopping by!

Chris said...

As ever, Hilary, you're far too kind.

And thanks for letting me off the hook by answering as now-you. I was worried I'd have to shave my head and put all my earrings back in to get in the 20-me mindset, and I'm pretty sure those holes have long since closed.

Hilary Davidson said...

Chris, now I'm insanely curious about 20-year-old you. I think you'll have to post a photograph of yourself from those days with your blog!

Chris said...

Lucky for me, Hilary, I've never much been one for pictures. Saves me the embarrassment...