Jennine Capó Crucet: A Proust Questionnaire


In the spirit of the French writer Marcel Proust, we invited Jennine Capó Crucet – who will be leading the Advanced High School Writers’ Studio during the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference – to share a bit about herself.

 Where or when were you the happiest?

Any dance floor when I was in my early twenties.

What are your pet peeves?

People who have their dogs off leash in leash areas. Slow drivers. When my husband doesn’t shake out his socks before putting them in the hamper and they stay all scrunched up and then I have to shake them out and they are somehow still damp from his foot sweat and OH MY GOD I FREAKING HATE THAT SO MUCH.

What is your favorite season?


What living person do you most admire?

Michelle Obama. I love her.

If you could be a non-human animal for a day, what would you be?

Are you kidding? A dolphin. No contest.

What is your most marked characteristic?

I have a lot of hair, and it’s been fairly long for most of my life.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

I worry too much.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?


What do your friends say about you behind your back?

Bitches better not be talking behind my back…

Who are your favorite heroes or heroines in fiction?

Zora Neale Hurston’s Janie in Their Eyes Were Watching God.

What fictional characters do you most dislike?

The very, very clever ones.

Who are your favorite musicians?

Juan Luis Guerra, The Pernice Brothers, Tupac Shakur.

Who are your heroes in real life?

In no particular order: My parents, my maternal grandparents, my mother-in-law.

What talent do you wish you had?

I wish I played the violin, or any instrument, really.

What is your present state of mind?


On what occasions do you lie?

On the phone with telemarketers or corporate survey people. I once reported on a phone survey about pizza consumption that I’d told 99 people in the previous month that I hated Little Caesar’s pizza. Ninety-nine was the highest number they would let me say (I’d originally said 300 – my thinking being I’d told about ten people a day). The real number that month was somewhere around 2. I also once told someone trying to sell us a water filtration system over the phone that our house had no running water. Also, I once told a lawn care service calling to try to sign me up for some ridiculous lawn maintenance program that I was purchasing a goat to handle my lawn care needs. (Sadly, this was not true.)

What historical figure do you most identify with?

I am not important enough to have an answer to this.

What is your favorite journey?

Driving over the Rickenbacker or Julia Tuttle Causeways over the water, from the neighborhood where I grew up to the beach I used to go to when I skipped school. The car windows are always down, and I’m usually speeding.

What living person do you most despise?

Grover Norquist.

What is your greatest fear?

That thing where rising global temperatures releases all the methane trapped in the permafrost, therefore accelerating climate change at some crazy, doomsday rate and then we all die. (I think this is called the Clathrate Gun Hypothesis or something equally terrifying sounding.)

What is your greatest extravagance?

I just bought a house, and I picked the biggest room in it as my office. I couldn’t help it. I’ve never had an office before, and that room had the best writing vibes. I feel a little guilty about it.

What is your greatest hope?

That my dog will live forever.

What do you most value in your friends?

A sense of humor. (Probably tied with loyalty.)

Who are your favorite writers?

One is always judged by the writers they leave out, but I’d be wrong not to mention Helena Viramontes and Charles Baxter for a whole host of reasons.

What is your motto?

I’m not sure if I really have one, but I have this line from Camus scrawled in huge letters on my office wall: “A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.”