Hi guys! Today we have Alyssa Sheinmel for an Proust Questionnaire here on TUBL! She's the author of The Beautiful Between which is a completely awesome book! Check out my review here!
Full disclosure: I watch a lot of TV. Some may say too much TV (I say it’s not too much TV as long as I still find the time to do other things like read, and write, and go to work etc). One show that I really love is “Inside the Actor’s Studio,” and invariably my favorite part comes at the end when the host, James Lipton, asks his guests questions from the Proust Questionnaire. I always love imagining that James Lipton is asking me the questions. Sadly, though, I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that I will never visit the Actor’s Studio. I cannot act, and unfortunately, I don’t think that being the author of The Beautiful Between will get me on Mr. Lipton’s guest list. But I don’t see why that should stop me from answering the questions, so here goes.
What is your favorite word?
My favorite word is tintinnabulation. It is one of the first really big words I can remember learning as a child, and it may have even kick-started my (very dorky) love of vocabulary. I love the way that word sounds when you say it, and I love the way it sounds like exactly what it means.
What is your least favorite word?
I hate the word “anyways.” I don’t think it’s a real word – “anyway” is a word (and one I use a lot); “anyhow” is a word. But anyways sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me. I actually cringe when people use it. Someday, if I ever write a book with a bad guy in it, I bet he or she will use “anyways” all the time.
What sound or noise do you love?
I have two: first, I love the sound of Yankee Stadium. I know, that’s a lot of sounds mixed together: the roar of the crowd, the vendors calling out “peanuts” and “Cracker Jacks” and the amazing thwack when a bat makes contact with the ball. (Of course, I prefer that last sound when it’s coming from a Yankee bat.)
Second: I love the sound of the snow in New York. I actually hate snow itself in New York City; it’s pretty for only about five minutes and soon it’s just the miserable slush on the ground that’s getting all over my dog’s paws and keeping me from wearing my favorite shoes. But sometimes, when it’s snowing, Manhattan gets miraculously quiet, and it feels like you’re the only person out on the street, and the only sound you can hear is the snow, sort of crinkle-crackling as it falls.
What sound or noise do you hate?
Ugh, I hate the sound when people cough or clear their throats and you can hear the mucus kind of moving around in there. Gross.
What profession other than your own would you most like to attempt?
I’d love to be a literature teacher – one who got to choose her own curriculum, though, so I could teach any books that I wanted to: Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Tolkien.... Just imagine, getting to read your favorite books over and over again, and then getting to talk about them with a room full of students who have to listen. That sounds so amazing.
What profession other than your own would you not like to attempt?
I would not want to be a doctor. I don’t want to hold anyone’s life in my hands.
What’s your favorite curse word?
That’s a tricky question for me, because I really, really try not to curse a lot. The one that I do end up saying is kind of odd: “mother.” It’s the beginning to say a longer, much more “bad” word, but I find that when I stub my toe, or walk into something, or realize that I’ve forgotten something, I usually only manage to get out the first half of that word.
Finally, if heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you reach the pearly gates?
I have a very elaborate picture of heaven. It’s kind of like an intellectual Utopia, where you get to finally understand all the things that you wanted to learn but that eluded you, and you get to be taught them by the experts. Like a literature lesson from James Joyce and Jane Austen, or a political debate featuring Thomas Jefferson and Franklin Roosevelt. I also think when you get there, you automatically look the best you ever looked while you were living, you never have to miss anyone, and you can eat anything and everything you want. So I would really just like God to say “You were right” and find that heaven is exactly what I imagined.