The Next Chapter

Anna Porter takes the Proust Questionnaire

The author and publisher reveals her real-life hero and the word she uses too much.
(TAP Books/Submitted by Anna Porter)

The co-founder of Key Porter Books, Anna Porter worked as a publisher for over 30 years. She's also an author. Her most recent book is Buying a Better World: George Soros and Billionaire Philanthropy. She answered The Next Chapter's version of the Proust Questionnaire.

Tell me about your favourite character in fiction.
Pretty much everybody in Dickens. I started reading Dickens when I was a little kid. My first beloved character was, oddly enough, Oliver Twist. I loved their names, names like Pickwick. I've never met anybody who had the name Pickwick or, for that matter, Twist. But he had a great penchant for coming up with absolutely fabulous names.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would like to have more time. Not having time actually is entirely my fault. I have always made life too busy. I get hugely involved with my grandchildren, which drives my children bonkers. I am forever showing up with gifts and sweets that they shouldn't be eating because their teeth will rot.

What phrase do you most overuse?
"Sorry." It's not a phrase, it's a word. But inherent in that word, there is a lot of "I'd love to, but I can't." Which is very often not the case. It's very often, "I wouldn't love to, and I could, but I'd rather not."

Who is your favourite painter?
Titian, because of the extraordinary use of colour, colour often emerging out of darkness. I go back and look at Titians often, although my husband, who talks about art all the time and loves art and has written about art, tells me that the greatest painter of all time is Rembrandt. I can see what he means, but I always go back to Titian.

What quality do you most admire in a man?
A sense of humour, although I do like good-looking guys. I like them to be a tad soulful but, boy, I like a good-looking man.

What quality do you most admire in a woman?
The ability to be a good friend. Knowing that you've got someone you can call and talk rubbish to, and be at the receiving end of her musings, on whatever the heck she wishes to muse on.

Tell me about your heroes in real life.
Well, my grandfather would be my number one hero. He had been an Olympic champion, in fencing. He was enormously attractive to women. Women loved him and, of course, he loved them. He had a wonderful sense of humour and, above all, he was a great storyteller.

What's your idea of perfect happiness?
Sitting at the end of a dock on Georgian Bay, preferably watching my grandchildren.

What is your greatest regret?
I don't really have any great regrets. I've been very fortunate and made some good choices. I don't have an overwhelming sense of an opportunity missed or something I did and shouldn't have.