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Alex Smith

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Richard & Proust: Richard de Nooy Responds to the Infamous Questionnaire

Immorality, Humbert Humbert, combustible psychology and God. Six Fang Marks and a Tetanus Shot, his debut novel won the University of Johannesburg Prize for Best First Book and his second novel The Big Stick, launched in South Africa last month, is already raking in stellar reviews both here and in Holland. It has been called heee-fucking-larious and the Cape Times likened it to a bon-bon. That voracious Times reviewer said with “dark, bitter chocolate and sweetly nutty bits, the interwoven tales of Staal — the moffie with “the big stick” who was exiled from Zeerust to the gay heaven of the Netherlands in the eighties — will have you devouring the pages like so many Ferrero Rochers.” Amsterdam based, Richard de Nooy, irreverent author most excellent, is on the rack and confessing…

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A day without fear or pain.
What is your greatest fear?
That Death will rob me of my loved ones.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
God. (Damn, that slipped out too easily.)
Which living person do you most admire?
Anyone who is capable of living a life that might drive others to suicide.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My predilection for addiction.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
All my deplorations are temporary, because I inevitably trace them back to my own inability to understand.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Tobacco. 30-40 extravagances a day.
What is your favorite Deksurney?
Looking up the word “Deksurney” and then pretending I knew what it meant all along.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Godliness, but only because I don’t quite understand it.
On what occasion do you lie?
Almost incessantly, to avoid hurting people’s feelings and to ensure that they like me.
What do you dislike most about your appearance?
There are numerous contenders, but I am constantly confronted by my skeletal wrists.
Which living person do you most despise?
Pick any Republican candidate. They all seem to epitomise what is essentially wrong with the world: rich men seeking more power and pretending to give a shit about issues.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“I think” – because I’m never really sure about anything. In fact, I had to suppress the urge to use it throughout this questionnaire.
What is your greatest regret?
That I cannot fly.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My wife and children.
Which talent would you most like to have?
The ability to recycle time so that I could develop my ability to sing and draw.
What is your current state of mind?
Incendiary. Or do I mean sedentary? I always get them mixed up. Perhaps I should just combine the two.
If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
I wish I could grant them immortality with the option of choosing their own date of departure.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
That I knew enough about myself to avoid the temptation of experimenting with heroine and cocaine in my early 20s.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
If there is a god and he has been paying attention, he will send me back as an eagle.
If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?
An eagle or any bird that soars on high.
What is your most treasured possession?
I attach very little value to material possessions.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
The loss of loved ones.
Where would you like to live?
I am where I want to be.
What is your favourite occupation?
Doing battle with the demon called Distraction.
What is your most marked characteristic?
The comical disparity between my exterior and interior.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
What do you most value in your friends?
Who are your favourite writers?
Vladimir Nabokov, David Mitchell, Truman Capote
Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
Humbert Humbert – not for who he is, but for how Nabokov has made him.
Who are your heroes in real life?
I am particularly fond of the unsung heroes who quietly overcome seemingly insurmountable odds in their mundane lives without actually realising how heroic they are.
What are your favourite names?
Those of my wife and children, and I briefly wanted to be called “Wade” when I was ten.
What is it that you most dislike?
The way time slips through your fingers, never to be regained.
How would you like to die?
Wrapped around a tree in a rented Porsche at the age of 85.
What is your motto?
Richard could do better. (My school teachers were right. Over and over again.)

Here’s a paragraph from the novel Richard is currently working on.

“Our caskets are interred in the holy soil of a land hardened by centuries of strife, by blood as dry as sand, countless stories carved in granite, the stone-cold fruit of petrified family trees, the names of sons and daughters lost too soon, whose molten history was cast as a land of iron.”

The featured portrait of Richard was shot as part of the ongoing close-up portrait project of Morne van Zyl.


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Sally</a>
    February 23rd, 2012 @09:35 #

    Why Wade? At ten I wanted to be Goldfeather, for no other reason than it being a made-up name.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    February 23rd, 2012 @09:43 #

    I was deeply into Louis L'Amour's epic Western shlock at the time.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Sally</a>
    February 23rd, 2012 @10:02 #

    ah, that explains it :)

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    February 23rd, 2012 @16:17 #

    I love the qualification that the death Porsche be rented. Takes a writer to think of that minor detail.


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