Friday, May 1, 2020

Proust Questionnaire: Ryan Madej

Ryan Madej is a self described, "writer of non-traditional narratives," that hails from Edmonton, Canada. And from what I've noticed, a great devotee of Borges. How did we meet? Just like how I meet a lot of writers these days--Twitter and via Expat Press. His short story, Night Index was posted in December of last year. His most recent book, The Threshold and the Key, was published by voidfrontpress. He has a forthcoming novel with the exquisite title of The Marble Corridor.

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Waking up in the morning after a gentle rain, smelling the freshness and sitting down with a tea or coffee and just being. No distractions or expectations. A book on lap would make it even better.

2. What is your greatest fear?

That my son is going to grow up in a world of utter strangeness and upheaval. A place that has totally lost any sense of human decency, affection and intelligence.

3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Anger. It’s a trait that has caused me a lot of grief and regret in the past, and because of this I’ve had to work doubly hard to not let it overcome me. It’s not worth it hanging on to anger, it sickens the body and mind.

4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Wilful ignorance. In an age where we have such an abundance of information and the ability to communicate ideas it seems we often squander what we’ve been given.

5. Which living person do you most admire?

I’ve thought about this one hard and I can’t think of one at the moment. Plenty of dead people I admire however.

6. What is your greatest extravagance?

Without question it’s books...and music. My backlog of books has gotten to a point where I believe that they will attack me in my sleep, but I’m slowly making progress.

7. What is your current state of mind?

A combination of low key anxiety mixed liberally with dreams of self realization. Considering the circumstances I’m holding up pretty well, but to be honest I’ve been through much darker times on a personal level.

8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Chastity. One should spread love or lust as much as they can. I mean, we’re all here because people decided to not be chaste. More love and lust.

9. On what occasion do you lie?

Like a child when I know I’m going to be in huge trouble, or the prospect for huge trouble is on the horizon.

10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?

It used to be the scars on my neck that I got when I was 12. I was almost decapitated in an ATV accident. In reality it has always been my hair which was for many years unmanageable, and now it’s just thin lol.

11. Which living person do you most despise?

I can’t think of just one, but I often think most politicians. I’m tired of having my hopes and the hopes of others dashed and then have them dashed again.

12. What is the quality you most like in a man?

Vulnerability. When you see a man at his most open, you see him for who he really is.

13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?

14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“That’s dope!” or “This reminds me of something from the Simpsons” and “fuuuuuuuuuccck” lol

15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Some secrets are best left secrets. Keeps the mystery alive.

16. When and where were you happiest?

Probably between the ages of 19-22. It’s the freewheeling time of young adulthood where everything tastes better and the future looks bright. It was a time of great exploration and openness where it was just pure living and no expectations.

17. Which talent would you most like to have?

The ability to slam dunk like Michael Jordan, Dr. J and Vince Carter.

18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

To be less emotional and more grounded, but I think I’m working toward that on a daily basis.

19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Finally getting one of my books published, but very soon it will be getting a university diploma.

20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

I think it would be as some sort of jungle cat, whether it be tiger, cheetah or jaguar. A creature entirely motivated by instinct.

21. Where would you most like to live?

My thoughts always lean toward somewhere in Europe, but in all honesty being by the ocean, a lake or any body of water would suit me just fine. Trees, birds, fresh air are the balm for the soul.

22. What is your most treasured possession?

My son. The purest joy comes from my time with him. Jokes, wrestling, watching movies, goofing around. There is nothing better.

23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Something close to what we’re all experiencing now: a lack of connection to anything or anyone we hold dear.

24. What is your favorite occupation?

Writer. I get to create puzzles and have people solve them, but I don’t recommend writing for mental or physical health lol.

25. What is your most marked characteristic?

I asked a close friend what this might be and she said my smile.

26.What do you most value in your friends?

Their loyalty. My two oldest friends have been around for 35 years so that says something about friendship. They are the brothers I never had. True friendship I value very highly.

27. Who are your favorite writers?

So many! But a short list: Borges, Kafka, Burroughs, Acker, Nin, Bolano, Nabokov, Akutagawa...There are many others, but one of the most daring writers I know right now is Will Bernadara Jr.

28. Who is your hero of fiction?

Joseph K. from the The Trial. His journey seems so close how many of us experience life, in other words lost, without answers.

29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?

The mysterious alchemist Fulcanelli whose true identity has never been ascertained. Working in secret, publishing two books, then disappearing.

30. Who are your heroes in real life?

Despite all their inherent flaws and the mistakes they’ve made, my parents. They taught me resilience, critical thinking and to take no shit from anyone.

31. What are your favorite names?

Madelaine, Aurora, and a whole series of made up names like Jimmy Sham and Rich Gaunchfield.

32. What is it that you most dislike?

Bad food. I’ve spoiled myself over the years.

33. What is your greatest regret?

Not finishing university the first time around and establishing myself in a solid career. That has caused me a lot of grief and hardship over the years.

34. How would you like to die?

I have a whole section about this in my book, The Threshold and the Key! No reveals here, read the book lol.

35. What is your motto?

Be unafraid of yourself.

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