The Momus Questionnaire — Marc Nash

Marc Nash is the author of four novels and five collections of flash fiction. His latest novel, Three Dreams in the Key of G, follows the stories of three female protagonists who unknowingly influence each other’s fates as each battles to assert themselves and discover their voices in hostile environments. It has been shortlisted for The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize.

The Momus Questionnaire was created by musician Nick Currie, and is designed to identify the aspects of the subject’s personality which give them a positive self-image, or ‘subcultural capital’.


Have you rebelled against someone else’s dreary expectations of your life, and become something more unexpected?

Yes, familial and societal expectations were that I should be a lawyer. That I should pursue a career path. That I should use the letters after my name of my educational qualifications. The constant interrogation of ‘what am I really going to do for a living’? Among those peers ready with advice to ‘write what you know’, forging ahead with exploring characters far removed from me and continually tilting at political and philosophical ideas within fiction. The ultimate apotheosis, of being the parent on the school run with the best record collection of all stood there in the car park; tiny victories. 

What in your life can you point to and say, like Frankie, ‘I Did It My Way’?

My writing which takes literary, artistic & linguistic risks, certainly going its own way. And my twin sons who have become their own selves rather than clothes horses or dream projections for their parents.  

What creative achievements are you most proud of?

Pushing the boundaries of literary and narrative form. Keeping at it for thirty years of relative outsiderness.  

If there was one event in your life which really shaped you, made you the person you are today, what would it be?

Cleaning up my father’s blood from the kitchen floor after his serious suicide attempt. That stops you up to think I can tell you. The other is not a single event, but it’s my nightly insomnia. Probably had an effect on my brain chemistry, but I do compose a lot of my work lying there in bed unable to switch off. 

If you had to make a song or rap boasting about your irresistible charm and sexiness, how would you describe yourself?

Wordy but unable to successfully rhyme in tempo. I help my son compose his spitting for his rap battles, but he has to work it into flow. He’s a better dancer than me as well. 

Have you ever made material sacrifices because of your integrity?

No career, no car, no holidays, rare nights out, no smartphones or other elaborate gadgets. But it’s all good, as I can just stay home and write. Not that I travel, but I would travel light. Just pen and paper and a good book for me would do it. 

Describe a public personality who exemplifies everything you’d like to be yourself, then another public personality who incarnates everything you’d least like to be.

I don’t have idols or heroes so none to the first. The second can be any common or garden sociopath who has gotten to the top of their field. I would have liked to have chinwagged with Samuel Beckett and Mark Rothko though. But they would probably have drunk me under the table too quickly to get much from any prolonged conversation.  

If you were an Egyptian pharoah and had to be buried with a few key objects to take to the next world, what would they be?

A pen and a new black notebook. Doesn’t have to be moleskin. Probably a book on insects so I could recognise my companions down in the soil. And a copy of Kafka’s short stories that honours so many of them, just for the perspective of our reversed statuses from life up top.  

Do you have a favourite joke, quotation or proverb?

Professionally: ‘Never underestimate the reader’ (my own saying)

Joke: What goes clip-clop, bang! Clip-clop, bang! Clip-clop, bang? – An Amish drive-by shooting (provenance unknown)

Joke 2 (Stewart Lee) – ‘”I hate Twitter. It’s like a state surveillance agency run by gullible volunteers. A Stasi for the Angry Birds generation.”

What’s your favourite portrait (it can be a song, a painting, a film, anything)?

Anything Rothko (visual art)

Stewart Lee comedy (that deconstructs itself as it goes along)

Gang Of Four “Love Like Anthrax” (deconstructs the music recording industry and the 3 minute pop single)

David Markson “This Is Not A Novel” – the perfect portrait of the artist afore death. 

Any art that deconstructs itself, showing you its inner workings, or the complete opposite end of the spectrum, anything abstract and contemplative