If Sally Cooper were Proust


The unofficial version is that I met Sally Cooper when we were both select members of Ann Beattie‘s fiction workshop at Humber College. We became friends on the basis of some sort of mutual weirdness that expresses itself differently in both our writing and our lives. It is hard to say what I got out of Beattie’s workshop, other than getting to know Sally, whose novels I have been lucky enough to read in draft form, and who never disappoints my readerly or writerly expectations of what makes a good story.

In the official version, Sally Cooper is a bold, powerful writer whose work lays bare the human heart. The author of acclaimed novels Love Object and Tell Everything, she has also published short stories in several magazines such as Grain and Event. A long-time professor at Humber College, Sally Cooper happily devotes her time to writing and raising her two daughters in Hamilton, Ontario.

Whether she answered these questions while reclined, I could not say for sure, but it is fine if you imagine her lounging in a garden resplendent with peonies.

lady lounging

1. Your Favourite Virtue.
Radical honesty.

2. Your Favourite Quality in a Man.
See above. The truth is sexy.

3. Your Favourite Quality in a Woman.
Brilliant humour. I’ve been blessed to know many intelligent, funny women and each one has expanded my life considerably.

4.Your Chief Characteristic.
Creative drive.

5. What you appreciate most in your friends?

6. Your main fault.
Indecisiveness which has led to inaction and countless missed opportunities.

7. Your idea of happiness.
Living in a perpetual state of wonder, as Louis C.K. says of his four-year-old, waking up full of joy that “it’s all still here!”

8. Your favourite occupation.

9. Your idea of misery.
Disconnection from people I love and who care about me.

10. If not yourself, who would you be?
My daughter, in the best possible position to teach me how to best be a mother to me.

11. Where would you like to live?
New Mexico or somewhere remote, warm and coastal.

12. Your favourite colour and flower.peonies-2
Aqua and heady-scented peonies (but not aqua peonies).

13. Your favourite bird.
Herons. So prehistoric-looking and long-leggity.

14. Your favourite prose authors.
I’m a fickle reader. For instance, if you’re Ian McEwan or Richard Ford or Michael Ondaatje or Toni Morrison, say, I might love five of your novels but dismiss a sixth. Alice Munro, always. Flannery O’Connor, Raymond Carver, Lorrie Moore, Lisa Moore, Cormac McCarthy, Annie Proulx.

15. Your favourite poets.
I love poets. Who could pick a favourite? Anne Sexton; Anne Carson; Michael Ondaatje; Pablo Neruda.

Atticus_Finch16. Your favourite heroes in fiction.
Atticus Finch.

17. Your favourite heroines in fiction.
Alice Liddle; Jane Eyre; Sethe in Beloved; Dell in Lives of Girls and Women; Scout

18. Your favourite painters and musicians.
Van Gogh; Miro; Chagall; Alec Colville; Georgia O’Keeffe; Emily Carr; Agnes Martin; Bruce Springsteen; Lucinda Williams; Gillian Welch; Ryan Adams

19. Your heroes in real life.

20. Your heroines in real life.
Foster mothers and single mothers.

21. What characters in history do you most dislike.
Hitler and his ilk.

boudica22. Your heroines in World history
Boudica, the anglo queen who led an uprising against the Romans in A.D. 61 in Colchester, where my mother’s family lives. Virginia Woolf.

23. Your heroes in World history.
Martin Luther King; Crazy Horse; Shakespeare.

24. Your favourite food and drink.
What’s forbidden to me now: a baguette with salted butter, a frosted glass of micro-brewed beer and a Hello Dolly square.

25. Your favourite names.
My daughters’ middle names. And all my characters’ names. (Mercy, Ramona…).

26. What you hate the most.
Having my secrets told.

27. The natural talent I’d like to be gifted with.
The singing voice of an angel.

28. How you wish to die.
I don’t wish to die.

29. What you wish to come back as.talking-rocks
A bird of prey or a sentient rock.

30. What is your present state of mind.
Over-sugared and brimming with peaceful ambition.

31. For what fault have you most toleration?
Loquaciousness. I love a good talker.

32. Your favourite motto.
Live and let live.

Follow Sally on Twitter @cooper_sally or dive into her brain here.