The Virtual Memories Show
A weekly conversation about books and life -- not necessarily in that order. Hosted by Gil Roth
Episode 333 - Gil RothAug 19, 2019 01:57:04
Because of a last-minute guest cancellation, I had no show lined up for this week! Rather than take a second week off this summer, I decided it was time for another Gil Roth AMA episode, since the last one was almost 5 years ago. Thirty-two past and upcoming guests and Patreon supporters came through with questions for me, including (in the order I answered them): Ken Krimstein, Hugh Ryan, Barry Corbett, Joe Ciardiello, Glynnis Fawkes, Kyle Cassidy, Ian Kelley, Kate Lacour, Dean Haspiel, Eddy Portnoy, Kate Maruyama, Tom Spurgeon, Jonathan Hyman, David Leopold, Paine Proffitt, David Townsend, Boaz Roth, Chris Reynolds, Liniers, Caleb Crain, Bob Eckstein, Ersi Sotiropoulos, Andrea Tsurumi, Henry Wessells, Vanessa Sinclair, Jim Ottaviani, Maria Alexander, Mary Fleener, Stephen Nadler, Charles Blackstone, Lauren Weinstein, and David Shields. We cover everything from creative lessons learned to "why so many cartoonists?", from what books I re-read and why to who is on my Mount Rushmore list of dream guests, from the comics and GNs that have affected me most to what I think about the Peak TV era, from how running has affected my podcast-practices to who my most obstreperous guest has been, and plenty more! And it was all done in a single two-hour take, so give it a listen! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 332 - Christopher BrownAug 12, 2019 01:09:25
He wowed us last year with Tropic of Kansas, and now Christopher Brown is back to talk about his brand-new dystopian legal thriller, Rule of Capture (both from Harper Voyager)! We get into his grand jury stint a few years ago and how it brought home to him the inequality of the law and led to this new novel, why there are so few lawyers in science fiction (but so many in comic books), and the challenge of writing a novel about the law as opposed the facts of a legal case. Along the way, we get into his search for utopia and why he's eschewing dystopia with this next novel, the phenomenon of Texan billboard-lawyers (like his novel's protagonist, Donny Kimoe), his love of Njals saga, the Icelandic poem about a lawyer who's ridiculed by other vikings because he can't grow a beard, the little capitulations we make that lead to the domestication of evil, his unsung legal heroes, and what one should or shouldn't do if one finds oneself on a down escalator behind a certain Supreme Court Justice. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 331 - LiniersAug 5, 2019 01:27:17
In a rollicking conversation at the Society of Illustrators 128 Bar & Bistro, Argentine comics star Liniers talks about making the jump from Buenos Aires to Vermont to teach at the Center for Cartoon Studies, the amazing US syndication launch of his comic strip Macanudo last year (and the origin of that strip in Argentina), the difference between drawing well and drawing funny, the mix of comic and comedic influences that melted his brain as a kid, the time he almost met Bill Watterson, and what it means to be a Latin American cartoonist. We also get into how he learned English from Mad Magazine, when he caught the live performance bug, why he eschews a regular set of characters in favor of a schizophrenic style of humor in Macanudo, how he felt the first time he saw a tattoo his work on a fan, why seeing his work pirated helped balance out his karma from downloading all those mp3s, and how his kids books help him press Pause on perfect moments from his children's lives. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 330 - Milton GlaserJul 28, 2019 01:08:54
He turned 90 a few weeks ago, but design legend Milton Glaser isn't slowing down. We got together to talk about moving to a new studio after nearly 55 years and what he plans on doing with the 250,000 posters in the cellar. We get into art vs. design, why he painted "Art Is Work" on the transom of his building, how he's working more actively and faster than he ever has, the first time he saw his work in public, how drawing makes us conscious of reality, the influence of Giorgio Morandi on his life, the joy of ~60 years of teaching, the decay of design into commodity and corporate metrics, and the overlooked role of Push Pin Studios in design history. Along the way, we also get into the worldwide phenomenon of his "I ♥ NY" design, what it's like to live in an age of collage, where we find things instead of making things, how the computer can compel users into doing what it's good at instead of what they're good at, his marriage advice after 60+ years with Shirley Glaser, and his story about designing Trump Vodka. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 329 - Kate MaruyamaJul 15, 2019 01:15:17
Writer, teacher, and activist Kate Maruyama joins the show from Readercon 2019! We talk about her first novel, Harrowgate (47North), which managed to make new motherhood and domesticity even creepier than the ghost story that overlays it. We get into how her husband and kids reacted to that book (it's about a woman who dies in childbirth), and when she got around to reading the work of her late mother, Kit Reed. We also talk about how she spent 20 years in Los Angeles before stumbling across its literary scene, and how she's making up for lost time by promoting that diverse writing community. Along the way, we discuss the differences between screenwriting vs prose writing, how she teaches students to avoid using archetypes that demean an entire population (and why Baby Driver turns out to be a woke crime movie), the authors her parents hosted at Wesleyan University during her childhood and the embarrassing question she asked Ralph Ellison, the social justice mission of Antioch College, how she taught creative writing in South Central LA and what her students taught her, and why the fast-fail model of screenplay sales has a lot to recommend it. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 328 - Emily NussbaumJul 8, 2019 01:45:57
Look! Up in the sky! Is it really more like a novel? Is it more like a 10-hour movie? No, it's TV! In her first book, I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution (Penguin Random House), critic Emily Nussbaum celebrates TV as TV, exploring the unique aspects of the form and helping TV viewers get over status anxiety. We talk about the satisfying/horrifying experience of culling her past reviews and profiles for the book, the audience-oriented nature of TV storytelling, whether it's important for a well-loved show to nail the finale, and the dual influences of The Sopranos and Buffy the Vampire Slayer on her work as a critic. We also get into her Peak TV moment, how technology has changed TV over the decades, the only time she predicted the upcoming season's TV hits (Lost and Desperate Housewives), her theory that most workplace shows are actually about TV writing rooms, the difference between weekly and binge-released shows, the perils of writing profiles of the people she's reviewed, and the challenge of being a funny writer who wants to make serious points. We also get into the question of how (whether?) to separate the artist from the art in the #metoo era, and how she deals with the fact that much of her sense of humor came from watching and reading Woody Allen throughout her youth. On the lighter side, she tells us her favorite songs from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and I reveal the '90s show that I binged on 200+ episodes of last year! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 327 - Karl StevensJul 1, 2019 01:29:30
It may be a fine line between comics and art, but Karl Stevens' fine line crosses effortlessly between them. Karl & I talk about how his realistic drawing style and watercolors treat comics as fine art, and how that visual style complements his naturalist stories, especially in his recent collection, The Winner (Retrofit Comics). We get into his gateway from superheroes to art-comics, his recent commission to make comics that accompanied a Botticcelli exhibition at the Gardener Museum in Boston, his work as a guard in that same museum, the challenge of drawing his wife, the challenge of getting paid as a freelancer, and whether he regrets his his teenaged decision to devote his life to comics. We also talk about his upcoming book of cat comics, drawing gags for the New Yorker, visiting the Words & Pictures Museum in '90s Northampton (a.k.a. Comics-Mecca), his road not taken with Dave Sim, how short strips and gag panels have made it tougher for him to write longer stories, and plenty more! BONUS: You get the origin story of my friendship with Tom Spurgeon AND my recent crisis of faith! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 326 - Barbara NessimJun 24, 2019 01:36:23
With a career in illustration and art stretching back to 1960, Barbara Nessim has been a trailblazer in multiple ways (albeit unintentionally). We talk about the 2013 retrospective of her work at the Victoria & Albert Museum and the process of seeing her oeuvre distilled by a curator, as well as her own 7-year project of archiving her work, and the role and rules of her decades-long sketchbook practice. We get into her pioneering work in computer art and her involvement in SIGGRAPH, her career drive and her "1 for them, 6 for myself" philosophy, her decision to take up pottery at 80, her Random Access Memories exhibition and its one-of-a-kind art-generator, what it was like working with Harvey Kurtzman for Esquire and on fumetto, her 65-year love affair with salsa and how she taught a bunch of illustration and design legends to dance, and how she may be the most well-adjusted, thankful and gracious artist I've ever met. Bonus: you get my oddball story of meeting Gary Panter in the '90s. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 325 - Boris FishmanJun 17, 2019 01:59:26
With his new memoir, Savage Feast: Three Generations, Two Continents, and a Dinner Table (a Memoir with Recipes), author Boris Fishman explores his family's Soviet Jewish legacy, his arc as a writer, and the glorious and varied meals that kept his family together from Minsk to Brighton Beach. We get into why creative nonfiction is his first passion (after publishing two novels), how he guaranteed his family's disapproval by writing about them throughout his career, how he couldn't leave Sovietness behind until he moved out of his parents' home at 24 (despite emigrating from the USSR at 9), what he'd do if he quit the writing game, and why the recipes were the toughest part of Savage Feast. We also talk smack about certain books and authors, compare Malamud to Roth and Bellow, discuss the first (very not Jewish/not Russian) writer Boris became friends with, and explore the use of fiction to imagine alternate lives for oneself. Along the way, we make a life-changing pact, decide whether an MFA is worth pursuing, share book tour best practices, and conclude that Soviet Jewish guilt is exponentially more severe than Jewish guilt. It's a whole lot of talk about books, food, and deracinated Jews! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 324 - Bill GriffithJun 10, 2019 01:26:47
Who can top the memoir of his mother's infidelity with the biography of a sideshow pinhead? Legendary cartoonist Bill Griffith, that's who! Bill rejoins the show to talk about his new graphic biography, Nobody's Fool: The Life and Times of Schlitzie the Pinhead (Abrams ComicArts), the empty nest syndrome that led him to dive into it right after finishing his first longform book, the challenges of separating fact from fiction in Schlitzie's life, and how a 1963 viewing of Tod Browning's movie Freaks changed Bill's life forever and led him to create Zippy The Pinhead. We also get into Bill avoidance of cheap sentiment in the process of humanizing Schlitzie, the familial support network of sideshow folk, the decision by circus-owners to present to Schlitzie on stage as female, and how to answer the crucial question of whether sideshow work was exploitative. Along the way, we also get into Bill's comics-making lessons, why Zippy is more about word-play (or word-jazz) than absurdity and non sequiturs, how that strip's long stories fed into Bill's book-length work, the biography of Nancy cartoonist Ernie Bushmiller he's working on next (and why he'd like to do fiction for his 4th book), the riddle of his middle-of-the-night Post-Its, his dad's very odd idea about keeping his son off skid row, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 323 - Hugh RyanJun 3, 2019 01:20:23
Let's celebrate Pride Month with a conversation with Hugh Ryan, author of When Brooklyn Was Queer: A History! We talk about Brooklyn's untold queer history and how it reflects the story of Brooklyn itself, the challenge of relating 19th century views of sexuality's spectrum to a modern audience, and why his history began with Walt Whitman and ended a few years before Stonewall. We also get into the toughest part of his research, the best story that didn't make it into the book, the commercial challenge of pitching a popular queer history, the accidental scoops he made by being the first person to explore this history, and how he wrote such long hours he broke his wrist. Oh, yeah, and he cringes over Naomi Wolf's demolition and we share a laugh over his great story of the Coney Island impresario who threw a male beauty pageant in 1929 but had no idea what was in store. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 322 - Steven GuarnacciaMay 28, 2019 01:39:31
On the eve of its New York City debut, illustrator/designer/author Steven Guarnaccia joins the show to talk about his Fatherland exhibition! We get into how he made the leap from 2D to 3D, the moment he realized he was an illustrator and not an Artist, what it was like to come up in a golden age of magazine illustration, the balancing act of professional and personal projects, the strong influence of the Pop Art on his work, the anxiety of the first time he got a color illustration assignment (he's been around a long time), getting his first NYT assignment from Steven Heller, and why Seymour Chwast & Milton Glaser may be the Lennon & McCartney of their field. We also get into his love of letterforms, his ingenious idea for my next podcast/documentary series, the process of learning illustration on the job, how he taps his unconscious drawing to break out of creative ruts, the benefits of a two-artist household (he's married to Nora Krug), his lament for the American culture of specialization, becoming the accidental archivist for Rooster Ties, and our ongoing competition for best-dressed guy at Society of Illustrators events. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 321 - Nina BunjevacMay 21, 2019 01:28:03
Back from her Fool's Journey in France, Nina Bunjevac returns to the show to celebrate her new book, Bezimena (Fantagraphics)! We talk about the graphic novel's unique and weird structure, Nina's abrupt decision to leave France and come back to Toronto after a year-long study of France's BD publishing industry, and her upcoming tarot project and her explorations into the history of occult mysticism and esoteric philosophy. Along the way, we also get into fixing the financial model for comics-makers, the value of big publishers, her growth as a writer, how Bezimena helped her address past episodes of sexual assault, her joy that Canada legalized weed while she was away, the story of her collaboration with Antonio Moresco, how to make an Alchemical Kitchen, and plenty more! BONUS: I explain how to tip the housekeeping staff at hotels! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 320 - SethMay 14, 2019 01:34:47
After more than 20 years, Seth has completed Clyde Fans, his grand meditation on family, business, and art (Drawn & Quarterly), so let's celebrate with a double-episode! First, Seth & I talk at a live event hosted by the Strand Bookstore, where we get into how his approach to art and storytelling evolved over that 20-year span, the one element he hated keeping consistent throughout the process, why serializing most of the work helped with revision, and how comics have become a subset of his studio process. Then we follow up with a one-on-one conversation during Toronto Comic Arts Festival, discussing his next project, whether he likes organic projects like his Nothing Lasts memoir or more fully formed stories, whether he owns a pair of sweatpants, the realization that he wasn't writing about his father but about himself, the artist's responsibility at the signing table, his decision never to research the real Clyde Fans business, the maddening acceleration of contemporary culture, the one character of his he feels affection for, his dream of writing a play, and plenty more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 319 - Katelan FoisyMay 6, 2019 01:33:21
Her first crush was Nosferatu, she started reading Burroughs at 12, she's fused Roma and Santeria, and now Katelan Foisy joins the show to talk about making art, magic, and a personal mythology. We get into the course of her artistic career, the perils of a public persona, the experience of making art for Smashing Pumpkins and William Patrick Corgan (& the genesis of their friendship), understanding the tarot as storyboards, learning to paint mosaics to make the Sibyls Oraculum, the allure of old hotels, the duality of Al Capone, and why she traded the East River for Lake Michigan. Plus, the great advice she got from Molly Crabapple, forming a Third Mind with Vanessa Sinclair, her adherence to William Burroughs' twin beliefs that you can write your way out of any problem and that photographs can change the future, and how her art tries to capture the Romany notion of the Stopping Place. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 318 - Ersi SotiropoulosApr 28, 2019 01:08:04
How does an artist make The Leap into greatness? In Ersi Sotiropoulos' wondrous new novel, What's Left of the Night (New Vessel Press, tr. Karen Emmerich), we explore three days in the mid-life of the poet CP Cavafy and how they may have helped him become the most distinguished Greek poet of the 20th century. Ersi & I talk about how an off-the-cuff discovery of Cavafy's 1897 trip to Paris led her to this novel over three decades, how she almost drowned in research before a poet browbeat her into writing the proemium of her novel, and how the book rebelled against itself until she had a dream of Cavafy that quelled the unrest. We also get into the universality of desire, her non-challenge of writing from the perspective of a gay man, the process of translation and Ersi's tendency to over-edit translators when it's a language she knows. Plus, she tells us why she considers me a pantophile (one who likes everything), and why she prefers hotels over being home in Greece, the Iliad over the Odyssey, and the daemon over the muses when it comes to the font of creativity. BONUS: You get to hear about the novel I never got around to writing, featuring Henry Miller and George Orwell! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 317 - Frederic TutenApr 23, 2019 01:42:09
With My Young Life (Simon & Schuster), Frederic Tuten had to get over his notion that memoir is a cheap shot in order to look back at the beginning of a career in writing, teaching, and art criticism in the New York of the 1940s, '50s, and '60s. We get into what started him on this book, how he's haunted by his childhood in the Bronx, his emphasis on quality over quantity in literary output (while coping with the cautionary example of his writing teacher, Leonard Ehrlich, who only published a single, well-acclaimed novel), his mentorship by artist and convicted murderer John Resko, the joys of cafe culture (and his favorite haunt, Cafe Mogador), and how he got two-timed by "the Elizabeth Taylor of the Bronx" with Jerome Charyn. We also lament today's celebration of the mundane, celebrate his friendships with Herge, Lichtenstein, Resnais and Queneau, and talk about the books he wants loaded in his casket when he dies, the great allure of Juan Rulfo's sole book, Pedro Paramo, why future pod-guest Iris Smyles' first novel is better than F. Scott Fitzgerald's first novel, how fact-checker Anne Stringfield corrected some virtual memories in My Young Life, how poverty shaped his later life, what he learned from sobriety, Gaugin and The Magic Mountain, and plenty more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 316 - Michael CarrollApr 15, 2019 01:32:09
The Village People tell us that Key West is the key to happiness, but is it also the key to a literary legacy? Michael Carroll joins the show to talk about his new collection, Stella Maris: And Other Key West Stories (Turtle Point Press), and the role Key West has played in his life. We get into the pros and cons of being married to a literary titan (Edmund White, in this case) and how they're portrayed in each other's work, the value of short stories in the short attention span era (and his lament that young gay men don't read), growing up Southern Baptist and gay, whether his upbringing in Jacksonville means he is Florida Man (and whether Florida is The South or South-Ish), why he avoids hookup apps, the influence of Joy Williams on his writing and the sustenance he gets from Lana Del Rey, and how writing about gay sex helps him vent his political rage. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 315 - David ShieldsApr 8, 2019 01:33:14
With his new book, The Trouble With Men (Mad Creek Books), essayist David Shields applies the literary microscope to his own marriage and explores -- through a collage of perspectives -- the subtle psychological game of S/M it's grown into over the decades. David & I get into the challenge of writing about his marriage without destroying it, whether he finds it funny to be blurbed as "the most honest writer alive", his 'nothing but epiphanies' approach to the personal essay, the obsessive personae he adopts for his books and the influence of (two-time pod-guest) Phillip Lopate on his work. We also talk about the difference between vulnerability and weakness, the taboo about male submission, the limits of disclosure, the lessons of parenting, our mutual sports-fixation and our love for Ichiro, and plenty more! BONUS: My all-important advice about what not to do in your hotel room. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 314 - Mark Alan StamatyMar 31, 2019 01:24:15
To celebrate the new 40th anniversary edition of MacDoodle St. (New York Review Comics), Mark Alan Stamaty joins the show for a conversation about that comic strip/graphic novel and what it meant for him and his career. We get into how it felt to draw a coda for this collection and how looking back at this work affects the two graphic novels he's working on. We also talk about the joy of drifting, what it means to be a New York flaneur after 50+ years in the big city, his lifelong lament over the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn, the Tom Robbins book that warped his brain and set him on the path to MacDoodle St., the meditative quality of Chinese scholar rocks, and the work he wished he did in his younger days, as well as what he would have pursued if he'd been more financially secure. Oh, yeah, and he also tells us about getting possessed by Elvis' spirit, his coping mechanisms for having a pair of gag cartoonists for parents, and the importance of composition for conveying energy to his readers. BONUS but not really: The intro is 15 minutes long, because I get into some weird epiphany-stuff; just skip to 15:00 for the start of the conversation. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 313 - Nathan EnglanderMar 25, 2019 01:28:25
On the eve of his fifth book, the wonderful Kaddish.com: A Novel (Knopf), Nathan Englander looks back on 20 years of publishing. We get into how he wrote this novel at a breakneck pace compared to his previous work, the great advice he got from Philip Roth (I'm not jealous), the chemistry of creativity, the importance of process, his need to push borders and examine boundaries, and making his bones on the sacred and the profane. Nathan also talks about the therapeutic aspects of teaching writing, being more appreciative of his yeshiva upbringing, treating books like religion, and getting into thrillers while working on his political novel Dinner at the Center of the Earth. We also discuss his foray into playwriting, how he knows when a story or book is done, and the challenges of being friends with other writers, among plenty of other topics. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 312 - Bram PresserMar 18, 2019 01:23:48
What sort of person breaks into Auschwitz? An author -- and semi-reformed punk rocker, recovering academic and occasional criminal lawyer -- in search of answers. Bram Presser joins the show to talk about his award-winning debut novel The Book of Dirt, a memoir-fiction hybrid about his family's experience in the Shoah. We get into the myths of how his grandfather survived the concentration camps and what they meant for his family and his book, the years of detective work (and the lucky breaks) researching his grandparents' stories and records and the limits of knowing anyone else's life, the exceptionalist vibe of Czech Jews, the stories he was afraid to learn and the heroism that redeemed his great-grandmother and her family, and how Bram avoided Holocaust cliches while giving agency, dignity and social dynamics to the prisoners in the camps. We also get into Bram's anxiety about feedback from his mentor Dasa Drndic, the value of documentary fiction, the aspects of his other careers that supported his ability to write The Book of Dirt, that Auschwitz break-in, and why Talmudkommando would have been a better name for his Jewish punk band than Yidcore. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 311 - Martin HägglundMar 11, 2019 01:04:47
What if we treated our finite lives as a feature instead of a bug? How would we revalue our time and how could that shape our society? In his new book, This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom (Pantheon Books), Professor Martin Hagglund explores how life becomes enriched when we discard the eternal in favor of seeing the lives we live together as the highest good. We talk about how the notion of an afterlife devalues the life we live, the ways our implicit experiences are rendered explicit by philosophy and literature, and how a rethinking of the value of our time can lead to a revaluing of labor and a critique of capital (no, really!). We get into my favorite topic -- anxiety! -- as well as the inextricability of existential and economic questions, the invisible labor that makes our lives possible/comfortable, the conceptions of time and memory captured by Proust and Knausgaard, the all-important difference between valuing socially necessary labor time and socially available free time, and how the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. embodies a lot of Martin's arguments about finitude and a better world. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 310 - James SturmMar 4, 2019 01:13:03
Cartoonist and educator James Sturm joins the show to talk about his new graphic novel, Off Season (Drawn & Quarterly), the story of a disintegrating marriage set against the backdrop of the 2016 election. We get into his artistic choices for this amazing book: using anthropomorphics, designing it in a 2-panel-per-page layout, and writing a story so convincing that friends thought his own marriage was falling apart (it wasn't). We also talk about James' experience of starting the Center for Cartoon Studies up in Vermont and what it taught him about cartooning, finding joy in the studio, exploring visions of America in his comics (or not; it's up for debate), treating the long VT winters as "cartooning season", his mega-sized graphic novel that will never see the light of day and the liberation of throwing a big project overboard, the comic shops we both frequented in our youth, the revelatory experience of reading Mark Alan Stamaty's comics, the Indian ledger books that comprise the first American graphic novels, and a lot more (including a Brink's heist). • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 309 - Joe CiardielloFeb 25, 2019 49:32
Illustrator/artist Joe Ciardiello returns to the show to talk about his brand-new book, A Fistful of Drawings (Fantagraphics Underground). We go into the project's history, Joe's exploration of the Italian-American experience, and how it's reflected in Spaghetti Western cinema of Sergio Leone & his peers. We also talk about how Joe overcame his anxiety about writing to bring the book's narrative together, how Buffalo Bill and Old West culture infected Italy, his visit to the street set of The Godfather as a kid in Staten Island, the book of his musician drawings he hopes to make, keeping up with new westerns, the actors and figures he didn't have room for in A Fistful of Drawings (but maybe we'll see in For A Few Drawings More!), a survey of his drawing heroes and more recent inspirations, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 308 - James OselandFeb 19, 2019 01:18:16
Before Saveur, before Top Chef Masters, before all the National Magazine and James Beard awards, James Oseland was a punk-rock kid called Jimmy Neurosis. James and I talk about his brand-new book, Jimmy Neurosis: A Memoir (Ecco Press), about his life as a gay teen in the late '70s. We get into how none of his previous artistic and literary pursuits prepared him for writing this book, the challenges of remove 50-something James' perspective from the teen narration, the difficult relationship with his mother at the core of the book (which begins with his dad bailing on them), and what it was like to find comfort in the burgeoning punk-music scene of San Francisco. We get into the toughest parts of the book to write about (we both get choked up at different points of that), his growing concern as a teen that (superabundant) sex wasn't the be-all and end-all, the diversity of the early punk scene and how it got overwhelmed by violent white guys, why he used ads and TV taglines as chapter titles for the book, the fate of his punk record collection, and the wonderful (but admittedly problematic) experience of living with a much older gay lover in NYC when he was 15/16. And I promise, we also talk about food writing and the new World Food book series he's working on! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 307 - Mort GerbergFeb 12, 2019 01:31:14
On the eve of his exhibition at the New-York Historical Society (Feb. 15 to May 5, 2019), legendary cartoonist Mort Gerberg reflects on more than five decades of cartooning and art. We talk about his new collection, Mort Gerberg On the Scene: A 50-Year Cartoon Chronicle (Fantagraphics Underground), and what he learned in the process of culling the selection of his work for the show. We get into the roots of his groundbreaking civil rights cartoons (and how he got away with making weed jokes in the Saturday Evening Post in 1965), his pioneering comics reportage, how his spontaneity and energy secretly come from laziness, the challenge of drawing people on NYC subways, his intense focus on the business side of cartooning (and how it might be tied into his late start as a cartoonist), how he tied vacations and even his honeymoon into work assignments, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 306 - Eva Hagberg FisherFeb 4, 2019 01:45:44
She got through brain surgery, heart surgery, and House-level chronic illness (oh, yeah, and addiction) and came out the other side with a brand-new memoir, but could Eva Hagberg Fisher make it through a podcast-session without catching a cold from her host? We tempt fate with a long conversation about How To Be Loved: A Memoir of Lifesaving Friendship (HMH), the unlikely friendship that saw her through this, the self-jinx of writing about her health, the perverse urge to see her tumor marker tests get worse because at least it would end the uncertainty of her diagnosis, and how pain taught her to balance sobriety with moralizing and martyrdom. We also get into the performative aspect of social media, her ongoing impulse to deception and secrecy and the act of performing vulnerability, the right and wrong way to process one's emotions, her anxiety in the wake of her recent essay on being in debt, her problems with The Artist's Way, her immense thanks that her editor cut 95 pages of relationship drama down to two paragraphs, and the stuff you really want to hear us talk about: her dissertation on the professionalization of architectural publicity via the letters of Eero Saarinen and Aline Bernstein Louchheim! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 305 - Deborah FeingoldJan 29, 2019 01:08:50
Legendary photographer Deborah Feingold joins the show to talk about the inspiration for her new personal project: photographing illustrators (which is how we fell into each other's orbit)! We get into her approach to teaching 'Portraiture and the Art of Imitation' at ICP, the process of learning through imitation and absorbing influence, how she moved from 'professional girlfriend' to 'professional photographer' in the '70s while shooting pictures of jazz musicians. We also talk about how she made the transition to digital photography while hewing to her film-shooting techniques, how she boldly directs her subjects despite being an incredibly shy person, the unspoken pressure to ape Annie Leibowitz' style when she shot for Rolling Stone, her stories of shooting early Madonna and pre-presidency Obama, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 304 - Edmund WhiteJan 22, 2019 01:20:52
Novelist, memoirist, essayist and queer literary icon Edmund White joins the show to talk about his new memoir, The Unpunished Vice (Bloomsbury USA)! We get into how his implied reader has changed identities over the years, the differences between writing memoir, autofiction and imaginative fiction, the boom and bust of the "gay fiction" bookstore category, the challenges of his massive biography of Genet and how he navigated about French attitudes toward gossip, and having the gay version of a shotgun wedding. We also get into his HIV diagnosis in 1985, outliving what he thought was a two-year death sentence, and being crazy enough to take on a long-term writing project in the midst of it. In between, we get to his status as a blurb-slut, what it's like for him to write on a computer for the first time, the pressure to write for a gay audience and how The Flaneur opened him up to a very different reader, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 303 - Peter KuperJan 14, 2019 01:13:30
Political artist/illustrator Peter Kuper rejoins the show to talk about these Kafkaesque times and his new graphic novel, Kafkaesque: 14 Stories (Norton)! We get into his decades-long interest in Kafka, the art of literary adaptation, why the constraints of working with an existing story can be liberating, how to talk about controversial artists in the present moment, the various translations of K he read before commissioning his own, and challenges of his adaptation-in-progress: Heart of Darkness. We also get into his post-2016-election mindset, the discovery of his New Yorker cartoonist line, his laborious process of breaking down a comic, what his dream adaptation project is, the time he got stranded in a village in Africa by an evil guide, and much more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 302 - Jerome CharynJan 10, 2019 01:36:08
On the latest stop on his blog tour, author Jerome Charyn joins the show to talk about his new novel, The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King: A Novel of Teddy Roosevelt and His Times (Liveright Publishing). We get into the image that inspired the book, the challenges & rewards of historical fiction, and the quest to separate Teddy Roosevelt's myth from his story. Along the way, we get into ping pong, whether LeBron James should have gone somewhere besides LA, the magic of Allegra Kent & Balanchine, the loneliness of Van Gogh's garret, the joy of collaborating on graphic novels, and the miracle of Jerome becoming a writer. • More info at our site, where you can enter to win a free copy of Jerome's new book! • Check out the rest of the blog tour in support of The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King! • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 301 - Kriota WillbergJan 1, 2019 01:04:33
Recorded live at Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC) in 2018, Kriota Willberg returns to the podcast to talk about the origins of her new book, Draw Stronger: Self-Care For Cartoonists & Visual Artists (Uncivilized Books). We get into her work in the Graphic Medicine field, learning to see beneath the skin, the graphic novel she's working on about Galen and the process of stitching people up, her best practices for festivals and conventions, the myth of the wandering uterus, and why cartoonists need to think (and train) like athletes! Plus: My New Year's Resolutions! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 300 - Gary ClarkDec 18, 2018 01:13:08
Singer-songwriter-producer Gary Clark is my super-special guest for episode #300! We talk about his career, from his '80s band Danny Wilson (and their all-time great single Mary's Prayer) to his songwriting for the wonderful movie Sing Street (and the great single Drive It Like You Stole It). We get into the twists-and-turns of his life in music, his transition from performer to producer, how he learned to write in another singer's voice, the furious social media messages from strangers about the fact that he doesn't sing anymore, the coincidence & blessing of getting tapped by John Carney to write music for Sing Street, how writing for musicals differs from pop songs, the ways the Infinite Jukebox changes how (young) people discover music and how he stays current, the time he avoided meeting one of his musical heroes, how a Danny Wilson reunion got derailed by Nanny McPhee, and much more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 299 - The Guest List & Bill KartalopoulosDec 12, 2018 01:57:48
Comics scholar Bill Kartalopoulos joins the show to talk about editing the annual Best American Comics series. But first, nearly three dozen of the year's Virtual Memories Show guests tell us about the favorite books they read in 2018 and the books they hope to get to in 2019! Guests include Jerry Beck, Christopher Brown, Dave Calver, Roz Chast, Mark Dery, Michael Gerber, Cathy B Graham, Dean Haspiel, Steven Heller, Richard Kadrey, Paul Karasik, Ken Krimstein, Nora Krug, John Leland, Alberto Manguel, Hal Mayforth, Dave McKean, Mark Newgarden, Audrey Niffenegger, Jim Ottaviani, Robert Andrew Parker, Shachar Pinsker, Nathaniel Popkin, Chris Reynolds, Lance Richardson, JJ Sedelmaier, David Small, Willard Spiegelman, Levi Stahl, Lavie Tidhar, Mark Ulriksen, Irvin Ungar, and Henry Wessells! Check out their selections at our site! Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 298 - Summer PierreDec 4, 2018 01:05:06
In her new graphic memoir, All The Sad Songs (Retrofit Comics), Summer Pierre uses the mix-tapes of her 20s and 30s to tell us the story of her life, one wrong boyfriend, one cross-country drive, one Boston folk stage set at a time. We talk about the soundtracks to our lives, the memoir & comics influences that gave her permission to tackle her PTSD issues on the page, the discovery that she was making a 104-page comic instead of the 25-page one she set out to draw (or "getting used by the muse"), and how surprised she was that college students know what a mix-tape is. We also get into her artistic maturation out of the kamikaze-style of making comics, the Boston folk music scene she was in/around in her 20s, the somatic therapy that helped her deal with PTSD, the notion that mixes are self-portraits, and wanting to be her mother's biographer, but realizing she knew almost nothing about her mom's insane life. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 297 - Shachar PinskerNov 26, 2018 01:34:34
Jews have a long tradition with coffee (I can attest!). In A Rich Brew: How Cafés Created Modern Jewish Culture (NYU Press), Professor Shachar Pinsker explores the intersection of modernistic Hebrew literature and coffee. We get into the story of Jewish migration through Europe and into America and Israel, why coffeehouses were the silk road of secular Jewish creativity, the golden age of feuilletons, the semitic roots of coffee culture, the way A Rich Brew is about big cities as much as it is about coffeehouses, the importance of thirdspace to bridge the social and the private, and how Shachar narrowed the book down to 6 representative cities. We also get into how his Yeshiva education helped his secular literary studies, his night-and-day visits to Warsaw, and just how we define "modern Jewish culture"! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 296 - Cathy B GrahamNov 20, 2018 01:05:16
Who starts a career at an age when most people are looking at retirement? Coming off a divorce and a three-decade hiatus from professional life, award-winning illustrator Cathy B. Graham is having a second bloom. We sat down to talk about painting, fashion illustration, and floral design, as captured in Second Bloom: Cathy Graham's Art of the Table (Vendome Press). We get into her artistic upbringing, her RISD education alongside Roz Chast & Dave Calver, the art of entertaining, her love of the Thorne Miniature Rooms and their influence on her life, her trepidation about returning to oil painting, the joy of Instagram, her New York and how she shifted from SoHo artist to Upper East Side culture maven. Most importantly, we talk about the regeneration and finding your new life. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 295 - Angela HimselNov 13, 2018 01:06:20
How did Angela Himsel make the transformation from rural Indiana and apocalyptic, fundamentalist Christianity to the Upper West Side of Manhattan and observant Judaism? Her new memoir, A River Could Be A Tree (Fig Tree Books) chronicles that process, bringing to life a story of family and discovery. I talk with the award-winning columnist about how she came to Judaism from the Worldwide Church of God, when she met Jews for the first time, what Israel means to her, and what she considers the weirdest aspect of Judaism. We get into the difference between seeing the world as the emanation of God and seeing it as the Devil's playground, her conversion to Philip Roth-ism, the beautiful family secret she uncovered in the process of writing her book, the decision to include her terrible teenage poetry in the memoir, why God may need therapy, and the Rapture-based prank she and her siblings still pull on each other. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 294 - Mark DeryNov 5, 2018 02:36:27
For his first biography, Mark Dery picked a doozy of a subject: the great, creepy, droll, mysterious artist and writer Edward Gorey. We talk about Mark's brand-new book, Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey (Little, Brown), his one in-person encounter with Gorey, how Gorey's sexuality did and didn't inform his work, and the challenge of writing the biography of an artist whose work always invited the reader to fill in the gaps. We get into how Gotham Book Mart made a cottage industry out of Gorey, the long-range impact of Gorey on America's pop culture, the queerness of children's literature beginning in the '50s, the influence of Asian art and philosophy on Gorey's work, his devotion to ballet and Balanchine, why the epic catalog makes for a great biographical tool, and a lot more, like Mark's lifelong one-sided relationship with Patti Smith! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 293 - Michael GerberOct 29, 2018 01:34:28
The American Bystander magazine is a print-only humor magazine, and while that may seem like an anachronism in the internet era, editor Michael Gerber joins the show to talk about why it's the perfect vehicle for humor. I've been a fan of the Bystander since its (re-)inception in 2016, and it was a delight to talk with Michael about the magazine's history, his background as "the world's only expert on print humor magazines", the decision to crowdfund the magazine and how it beats the days when "paper bag money" was necessary to get a magazine on the newsstand. We get into how he keeps the rhythm of the magazine flowing between prose pieces, gag panels, strips and other pieces, as well as the contributors who passed away before he could get them into The American Bystander, the ones he's vowed to get, and the challenges of getting diverse voices in the magazine. We also discuss his vision for America, the politicization of history, the experience of reading National Lampoon when he was 4 years old, and finding his life's purpose in trying to start a cult. (Oh, and SUBSCRIBE TO THE BYSTANDER!) • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 292 - Eddie CampbellOct 23, 2018 01:35:02
Legendary cartoonist Eddie Campbell joins the show to talk about his first (sorta) prose book, The Goat Getters: Jack Johnson, the Fight of the Century, and How a Bunch of Raucous Cartoonists Reinvented Comics! We get into this forgotten piece of comics history, the challenge of offensive ethnic stereotypes in old cartoons, cartoonists' blind spot toward sports, the other pieces of cartooning history he wants to chronicle, and the amazing, unsung career of Kate Carew. We also talk about the bookshelf of Eddie's comics work, what took him away from autobiography, the challenge of coloring From Hell (and succumbing to the temptation to redraw some of it), his new collaboration with his wife, Audrey Niffenegger, the lessons of age, the joy of telling shaggy-dog stories, and what it's like to be known as "Hayley Campbell's dad". • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 291 - David SmallOct 13, 2018 01:22:12
With a Caldecott Award-winning career in writing and illustrating kids books already under his belt, David Small made a huge splash in the comics field with his 2009 memoir Stitches. Now he's back with the graphic novel Home After Dark (Liveright) and we got together at SPX to talk about how those careers mesh, how he got his start in illustration, how he approached his new book as fiction, and more. We get into his artistic, literary and cinematic influences, the struggles of studying representational art in the '60s and '70s, and the incredibly wrong geographic decision about a teaching gig that led him to the love of his life. We also discuss the elements of a good kids book and why so much of today's market turns him off, the moment in Paris when he got over his fear of making comics, the memory palace he reverse-engineered to start his memoir, and the evolution Home After Dark took over 12 drafts (!) to tell the story David knew he had to tell. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 290 - Jason LutesOct 7, 2018 01:20:15
For the third installment in our ad hoc Germany/fascism triptych, Jason Lutes joins the show to talk about completing his 22-year opus, the 550-page graphic novel Berlin (Drawn & Quarterly)! We talk about the changes in his life, his art, and comics publishing over that course of this project, the ways Berlin evolved and changed over the years, Jason's struggle not to re-draw panels or pages or full issues for the collected edition, what he learned about human nature and fascism in the course of making Berlin, and the imaginative benefit of not having Google Image search when he started doing research for it. We also get into his storytelling and cinematic influences, the balance of formalism with fluid storytelling, what he's learned from teaching at the Center for Cartoon Studies, his epiphany at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum during CXC 2018, my inadvertent comparison of him to Britney Spears, and plenty more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 289 - Nora KrugOct 1, 2018 01:21:36
With the brand-new visual memoir Belonging (Scribner), writer/illustrator Nora Krug explores her family's history in World War II and her own struggles with her identity as a German expat in America. We get into the meaning of Heimat and why her questions arose when she was living outside of Germany, the challenges of telling the story without devaluing the Holocaust itself (thanks, Jewish beta-readers, incl. Nora's husband!), the pendulum swing of collective guilt, the failings of German's education system to address the war, and whether certain books should be banned (and what happened the time she tried reading Mein Kampf on the subway). We also get into the process of editing her life and her discoveries into a narrative without eliding the truth, how Belonging/Heimat has been received in Germany, writing it in English, and the detective work that went into making the book. Plus, we talk about her visual storytelling style, teaching art at Parsons, why she doesn't keep a sketchbook (but doesn't tell her students that), and the German stereotypes she does and doesn't live up to (she's getting better at small talk!). • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 288 - Ken KrimsteinSep 24, 2018 01:50:00
With his new graphic biography The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt: A Tyranny of Truth (Bloomsbury), Ken Krimstein combines his interests in comics, history and philosophy into a dream project. We talk about how he made the shift from "average NPR listener" to deep scholar of Hannah Arendt, teaching himself phenomenology in mid-life to balance story with philosophy, trying to understand the relationship between Arendt and Heidegger (and trying to understand Heidegger's philosophy and whether it fed into his Nazism), seeing through Arendt's eyes and taking solace from her philosophy, and how he got laughed at by other cartoonists when he told them he thought he could draw this 200+-page book in 6-8 weeks. We also get into Ken's history in comics and advertising, the alchemy of the New Yorker cartoon, how he learned about culture via Mad Magazine, his failed attempt to be Saul Bellow, the lesson that problem-finding is more important than problem-solving, the Chicago comics scene and the Evanston arts-mafia, what he misses about New York, and Saul Steinberg's central role in art and comics for the 20th century and beyond. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 287 - Audrey NiffeneggerSep 17, 2018 01:16:52
In NYC for the Brooklyn Book Festival, author/artist Audrey Niffenegger joins the show to talk about her work and life. We get into her new collaboration, Bizarre Romance (Abrams), being Parent Trapped (maybe) by Hayley Campbell, her interest in taxidermy and what it does and doesn't signify, how she shifts from prose to comics and vice versa, the allure of Chicago, getting consent to convert people into characters, writing the sequel to her best-known work, The Time Traveler's Wife, how that book's success changed her approach to art, getting turned on to print-making as a teen by a book on Aubrey Beardsley, the books she's still hoping to get around to reading, how art school taught her to see, and plenty more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 286 - MobySep 11, 2018 01:26:02
Electronic dance musician Moby joins the show to talk about what he learned from writing his memoirs and what he learned from reading bad ones. We get into the toughest/most embarrassing story he had to tell, the banality of turning 50, the benefits of public failure, the pros and cons of the infinite jukebox, his take on contemporary pop music, his decision to sell off most of his recording equipment and his records, the two things he would save if he had a house fire, his favorite Star Trek captain, and a lot more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 285 - Glen David GoldSep 4, 2018 01:38:29
How did Glen David Gold get over his Stalinist attitude against memoir to write his amazing new book, I Will Be Complete (Knopf)? Listen in as we talk about his transformation from novelist (Carter Beats the Devil and Sunnyside) to the narrator of his own life! We get into his realization that not only was his upbringing not normal, it needed to be revised and refined into a story (in which his dad comes off as a benign putz, which is fine compared to his mom . . .). We also talk about how Vivian Gornick's The Story & The Situation fixed him up, coming to understand the narrator's voice by performing parts of the book at open-mic nights, his introduction to Marvel comics & the magic of Jack Kirby, how the UC Irvine fiction-writing program saved his career, his brilliant idea for a podcast (which I'm tempted to steal), his teenaged nerd-out moment with John Irving, the pros & cons of collaborating on comics and screenwriting vs. the solo work of novel-writing, the cultural history of LA, his 3-week work ethic, why he pushes Bourjaily's Now Playing At Canterbury on anyone who'll listen, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 284 - Richard KadreyAug 27, 2018 01:37:33
On the eve of the publication of his 10th (!) Sandman Slim novel, Hollywood Dead, Richard Kadrey joins the show to talk about discovering himself as a series writer, converting the raw material of his religious upbringing into urban horror and fantasy, and his drive to understand the character of Lucifer and how evil has been portrayed in the western world. We also get into LA's transparent power-dynamics, the moment when he started receiving fan art and fanfic of his work, his recognition that he's a hard worker but a terrible employee, the ways his journalism training benefited his fiction writing, why the second Sandman Slim book was the hardest thing he ever wrote, his best practices for book tours, writing on drugs, keeping it together when he met JG Ballard, the importance of being unqualified for anything, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 283 - Robert Andrew ParkerAug 19, 2018 01:28:13
At 91 years old, Robert Andrew Parker can't stop making art. We sat down in his studio to talk about his 7-decade career in painting, illustration and printmaking. We talk about how a childhood bout of TB led to his becoming an artist, how he studied under German refugees at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, the challenges of keeping his fine art career running parallel with his commercial illustration career all these decades, how he got hired as Kirk Douglas' hands in the Vincent Van Gogh biopic Lust for Life, his fascination with Kafka and the Metamorphosis, how he got started playing drums and how he felt about 4 of his 5 sons growing up to be drummers. We also talk about the worst part of his macular degeneration (hint: it involves books), why he prefers watercolors to oils, his favorite places when he traveled the world on magazine assignments, his profane correspondence with Thomas Berger (and a funny exchange with Nabokov), his astonishing "German Humor" series and why it had to be etched and not painted, how he nearly burned down a barn with nitric acid while prepping plates, why art agents and dealers need to be realists (but have a sense of humor), touring the Dardanelles with Edward Herrmann, and much more. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 282 - Lance RichardsonAug 14, 2018 01:25:14
House of Nutter: The Rebel Tailor of Savile Row tells the story of two brothers who grew up above a trucker cafe in Wales and managed to achieve glamorous heights in London and New York. Author Lance Richardson joins the show to talk about telling a queer history in Nutters' clothing, the realization that he'd struck gold with Tommy and David Nutter's stories, his education in tailoring, Savile Row culture and the transformation on London in the '60s, the impact of AIDS and survivor's guilt, the professionalization of celebrity, and the joy of getting a bespoke jacket from Tommy's cutter. We also talk about Lance's upbringing in rural Australia, his culture shock about America's bureaucracy and healthcare system, the blessing and curse of being a generalist of a writer, scaling up his reporting skills for full-length non-fiction writing, his next project (a big bio of Peter Matthiessen), the time he accidentally stalked Julianne Moore, the question of whether The Paris Review was a crutch for George Plimpton, the reading list he had to build for himself as a youth, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 281 - Bill PlymptonAug 7, 2018 56:50
Indie animation legend Bill Plympton joins the show to talk about his first short (the Oscar-nominated Your Face), his latest feature (Revengeance), and everything in between! We talk about his indie ethos, the economics of animation and the benefits of Kickstarter, collaborating for the first time, launching the Trump Bites series of animated shorts and how they dovetail with his early career as a political cartoonist, his dream project (it involves Beatles music), his influence on generations of animators and artists, and how he discovered his hatching-sketchy style. Bill also gets into sticking with pencil and paper, falling in love with NYC 50 years ago and taking inspiration from it ever since, starting a family a little late and changing the work-life balance, giving career advice to young animators, and ripping off his idols. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 280 - David LloydJul 30, 2018 02:14:17
UK comics legend David Lloyd joins the show to talk about his storied career, and how he made the shift from artist to publisher with the online comics anthology magazine Aces Weekly! We get into his roots as a cartoonist and noir storyteller, the co-creation of V for Vendetta with Alan Moore and what he thinks of the Guy Fawkes mask he designed for V being used by Occupy and Anonymous (and Trivia Revolution bar posters), his stint in advertising and what it taught him about storytelling, the youthful experience of having his mind melted by Ron Embleton's Wrath of the Gods comic, the processes he invented to draw his own graphic novel, Kickback, how he's kept an ideas notebook most of his life and finds gold in decades-old entries, dealing with Moore's tendency to overwrite and enforcing the boundaries between artist and writer, and what he's learned about marketing in the internet era with Aces Weekly. It's a career-spanning conversation, so give it a listen! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 279 - Hal MayforthJul 24, 2018 01:26:48
Illustrator-painter-cartoonist-musician Hal Mayforth joins the show to talk about making art out of the everyday. We get into his daily sketchbook practice (along with transcendental meditation), the shelf-life of illustrators' styles, the music he makes out of found vocals, and how he balances personal art alongside his professional work. We also talk about his explorations into AbEx and how he made the shift from illustration to fine art, how he built his portfolio by doctoring alt-weekly articles with his own illustrations, why playing in a band offsets the solitary aspects of making art, his Screaming Yellow Zonkers animation that never aired, whether living in New England (Burlington, VT especially) helped or hurt his illustration career, the inspiration of EO Wilson on his Biophilia paintings, teaching himself portraiture by working his way through an old World Book encyclopedia, his campaign to get May 4th declared a national holiday and why he feels upstaged by Star Wars fans, and why he chooses soul over technical perfection (and Lightnin' Hopkins over Steve Vai). • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 278 - Dmitry SamarovJul 17, 2018 01:01:19
After our pre-opening tour of the Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation museum, artist Dmitry Samarov and I repaired to a cafe where we recorded a noisy conversation while Dmitry sketched me. This ridiculously casual episode gets into artists and suicide, the process and revelations of assembling 20 years' worth of work for a mid-career retrospective (as well as his new exhibition of his CTA illustrations), the losing proposition of chasing stats, the launch of his own semisorta podcast, the fanciest dumb-phone around, becoming a journalist/reviewer, and how you gotta find the right tool for the job/art. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 277 - Nathaniel PopkinJul 9, 2018 01:44:06
For a guy who calls himself a master of nothing, Nathaniel Popkin does an awfully good job for himself as a novelist, literary editor, critic, journalist, and urban historian. Nathaniel joins the show to talk about his new novel, Everything Is Borrowed (New Door Books), as well as the new literary anthology he co-edited, Who Will Speak for America? (Temple University Press). We get into the fertile subject and setting of Philadelphia, the goal of building a literary hub for his adopted city, the process of writing a novel about anarchists and architects (which I sorta characterize as the anti-Fountainhead), the necessity of self-delusion for artists, his background in urban planning and how it informs his writing, the challenges and rewards of seeking diversity in art, the importance of the Writers Resist movement, how becoming a writer was his way of being Jewish in the world, and why he eschewed MFA vs NYC in favor of PHL! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 276 - Mark UlriksenJul 3, 2018 01:23:40
His art has graced the cover of The New Yorker 60 times (!), and now award-winning artist/illustrator Mark Ulriksen joins The Virtual Memories Show! We talk about how he got his start in illustration at 37 (and compare mid-life crises) and how his previous career as an art director affected him, get intowhy he likes painting dogs more than people, and issue our judgement on Barry Bonds' MLB Hall of Fame chances. We also get into the ice-cream machine that changed his life, the good aspects of being typecast, the pros and cons of not going to art school, how he developed his "gracefully awkward" style, his love of sports (and the new gallery show of his sports-related work!), his artistic epiphany inspired by The Third Man (our mutual just-about-favorite movie), the graphic memoir he wants to make, why he loves drawing on an iPad, and how he's managed to work around his idiopathic obliterative perifoveal retinal vasculopathy (it's a bad eye disease). • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 275 - Dave CalverJun 26, 2018 01:36:53
Artist & illustrator Dave Calver joins the show to talk about Limbo Lounge, his first graphic novel! We discuss the ups and downs of his 40+-year career in illustration, his gorgeously pop-surrealism-lowbrow vibe, life in a vintage trailer park, and how he manages to draw macabre without being gross. We also get into his '70s/'80s NYC experience (including witnessing collateral damage at a women's wrestling match at Club 57), his time at RISD with Roz Chast and her club-days at Danceteria (!), the movie he's writing and its Munchkinland-Goth scenery, the loss of era-specific styles, perfecting "nicotine-stained jewel tones" for Limbo Lounge, and how the book started with the image of flowers behaving badly! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 274 - Chris ReynoldsJun 17, 2018 55:16
The New World: Comics from Mauretania collects what artist Chris Reynolds describes as "Strange Adventure Stories About Dreams". We get into Chris' amazing body of comics work, the roles of intuition and reason in his storytelling, his panic when another artist (Seth) identified themes and threads throughout his work, and his sense of letting go of his stories now that they've been collected by New York Review Comics. We also talk about nostalgia for a time before he was born, the notion of writing after the big event instead of the event itself, the allure of Cordwainer Smith's stories, and the phenomenon of having a distinctly cult following for his work. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 273 - Alberto ManguelJun 10, 2018 01:18:22
Author, editor, translator, and (most crucially) reader Alberto Manguel joins the show to talk about his new book, Packing My Library: An Elegy and Ten Digressions (Yale University Press). We discuss the lifelong act of building a library and how he deals with having no access to it, now that he's had to pack up ~35,000 books (but he also tells us about the 3 books he took with him on his travels). We get into his new gig as director of Argentina's National Library, our schism on whether to cull one's book collection, his experience in his teens reading to a blind Borges (and why literature should be considered Before and After Pierre Menard), the book-fetish, our mutual preference for The Iliad over The Odyssey, the embarrassment of receiving an award that was previously given to Borges and Beckett, why translating a book takes more effort than writing one, how he deals with Argentina's dirty war and the phenomenon of awful people liking great books, the book he still hopes to write, why Canada is home for this world traveler, and the problem with the problem with canons. BONUS: Our listeners weigh in on the books they'd bring with them for a 2-week hospital stay! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 272 - Irvin UngarJun 3, 2018 01:14:00
Arthur Szyk was once one of the most popular artists in America, but after his untimely death his art vanished from public discourse. How did Szyk achieve and lose such renown? Irvin Ungar has spent the last 25 years championing Szyk's work, most recently publishing the National Jewish Book Award-winning Arthur Szyk: Soldier in Art. We talk about his introduction to Szyk, the impact of Szyk's work in his native Poland, the UK and the US, the way Szyk's work in so many forms -- illuminated manuscripts, Persian miniatures, political cartooning, and more -- may have contributed to his posthumous decline, and why Syzk's Haggadah is like Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling. We also get into Irv's dayenu moments promoting Szyk's legacy, and the curious story of how Irv entered the rabbinate as an alternative to serving in Vietnam, left to become an antiquarian bookseller, and how his rabbinic training let him recognize Arthur Szyk as an upstanding man. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 271 - Christopher BrownMay 30, 2018 01:14:43
Science fiction author Christopher Brown joins the show to talk about his first novel, Tropic of Kansas (Harper Voyager), and the redemptive possibilities of dystopian fiction. We get into his SF pedigree, living in Austin and its influence on his ecological themes, the multivalence of Texas, his attempt at subverting the post-9/11 technothriller toward emancipatory ends, his background in business law and politics (and the role of power in both those milieux), his affinity for edgelands and the dysfunctions of time, the storytelling advantages of growing up in the midwest, his cynicism about humanity and optimism about nature, and working on Capitol Hill and realizing Ted Kennedy looked just like a certain Marvel character. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
2018 Memorial Day Bonus Mini-EpisodeMay 26, 2018 14:08
Episode 270 - Ilana C. MyerMay 22, 2018 01:05:14
Fresh from her book tour, Ilana C. Myer joins the show to talk about her new novel, Fire Dance (Tor). We get into the jump she made for her second book, the process of crossing Celtic poets with troubadours and Mediterranean aesthetics and mythology as part of her world-building, the challenge of seducing the reader, why she writes fantasy instead of history, and her fixation on "books with magic in them" as a kid. We also get into how she balances life in Israel and the US, her process of self-discovery and her religious epiphany in a college astronomy class, the challenge of shutting out social media voices while keeping up a strong Twitter presence, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 269 - Michael KuppermanMay 15, 2018 01:08:40
Michael Kupperman rejoins the show to talk about his new book, All The Answers! We talk about his father Joel Kupperman's experience on the Quiz Kids radio and TV shows and how it led to a multigenerational chain of trauma, the shifting of gears from absurdist humor to heartfelt family memoir, the airing of family secrets, the five-plus years of work this book required, and more. We also get into how Mike learned to be a father on the fly, the way his PR push for the book has turned into an ongoing therapy session, why it's important for him to reach a non-comics audience, the change to a mainstream house after working with comics publishers, and his assessment of his career and his perceived lack of respect (that would be the aforementioned therapy session). • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 268 - Roz ChastMay 7, 2018 49:59
Live from MoCCA 2018, Roz Chast rejoins the show to talk about her 40-year+ career as the "different-different-different" cartoonist at The New Yorker, what her workday is like, why she avoids topical and political cartooning, the joy of drawing on an iPad and the fun of Instagram, and more! We get into her new book, Going Into Town: A Love Letter To New York (Bloomsbury USA), and her issues with the suburbs, like learning to drive at 38 and being scare of having a basement. We also discuss the transition to a new cartoon editor at The New Yorker who's the same age as her kids, the recent shift in gender representation, and the gags she couldn't have made before she lost her parents. Plus: audience Q&A! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 267 - JJ SedelmaierApr 29, 2018 02:03:27
Director/Producer JJ Sedelmaier has been in and around animation for nearly 40 years. We sat down to talk about the false choice of art and commerce, how the advertising and animation businesses have changed over the years he's been working in them, using animation for good instead of evil, how working in a Greek restaurant as a teen prepared him to run his own animation studio, the insane process of animating the first season of Beavis & Butthead, the joy of working with his favorite artists and cartoonists, not worrying about his road-not-traveled, stepping away from SNL's TV Funhouse after 3 years (during which time he co-created Ace & Gary, the Ambiguously Gay Duo), the time he met Steve Ditko, how Mark Newgarden & Paul Karasik have taught him to appreciate Nancy, the trap of tapping into nostalgia (and the missed opportunity of that Geico ad with He-Man), his responses to my totally unfair "X or Y" questions (incl. "Herriman or McCay?" and "Kurtzman or Eisner?"), and plenty more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 266 - Steven HellerApr 24, 2018 01:07:43
Design scholar Steven Heller joins the show to talk about writing and editing more than 182 books on design and its history (and lamenting the books he still wants to do). We get into his evolution from cartooning to graphic design, how he became a scholar of satiric magazines, what went into building the MFA entrepreneurial design program at School of Visual Arts, and the maybe too-encompassing use of the word "design". We also talk about the transition from print to digital media, how he manages to keep up a daily blog, his career at the New York Times (designing the op/ed page and the Book Review, and occasionally writing obits), his legacy, how he's dealing with Parkinson's syndrome, how a terrible student can become a good teacher, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 265 - Jaime HernandezApr 16, 2018 01:09:01
He's been on my list of dream-guests since I launched the podcast, and now Love & Rockets cartoonist Jaime Hernandez joins the show! We talk about his new book of Latin American folktales, The Dragon Slayer (TOON Graphic), the family-centric folktales of his own youth in Oxnard, CA, the fun of drawing for kids, and the times he's felt Maggie Chascarillo had nothing left to say. We get into the origins of Love & Rockets, how he learned to tell a story and still develop characters, the L&R story that marked a turning point for him, what prompted a big reunion storyline of his key characters, the thing he most hates drawing, the first time he saw someone with a Love & Rockets tattoo (and the stories of his own tattoos), and the vital question: is punk rock dead? Plus, Katie Skelly (My Pretty Vampire) talks about what Jaime's comics mean to her! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 264 - Dean HaspielApr 10, 2018 01:47:23
Cartoonist and playwright Dean Haspiel joins the show to talk about his new play, The Last Bar At The End Of The World (running April 10-15, 2018!) and how he looks at his life & career after turning 50. We get into his New Brooklyn series of webcomics, our mutual upbringing on superhero comics, the inherent lie of being a freelancer, his father's friendship with Marilyn Monroe, writing for theater vs. comics, his devotion to Mamet's On Directing Film, my theory that most of Tarantino's movies are about acting, fulfilling his youthful dream of drawing the Fantastic Four, and the validity of Jack Kirby's (apocryphal) statement, "Comics will break your heart." • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 263 - Jonathan AmesApr 3, 2018 01:23:09
On the eve of the premiere of You Were Never Really Here, writer Jonathan Ames returns to his stomping grounds of northern NJ to talk about crime novels, the literary pilgrimages of his youth, getting laughs at AA meetings, and more. We get into the process of seeing his novella adapted into film, his decade-long fascination with Richard Stark's Parker novels, the catharses and paradoxes of his confessional writing, learning on the fly to write for TV and working with a writers' room for Bored to Death and Blunt Talk, the experience of studying creative writing at Princeton under Joyce Carol Oates, learning The Secret to stop being cheap with himself, his favorite writing form (given that he's made novels, stories, columns, nonfiction, films, TV, and comics), the act of subsuming himself into fictional characters, the bizarre error on his IMDB page that left me totally flummoxed, and the amazing NJ coincidence of one of the locations used in the movie. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 262 - Jerry MoriartyMar 26, 2018 03:08:35
Paintoonist (painter + cartoonist) Jerry Moriarty joins the show to talk about playing the Art Card for 80 years and counting. We get into the genesis of his Jack Survives comics and his recent book "whatsa paintoonist?", his 50 years teaching at SVA, his move back to his childhood home in upstate NY in his 70s, the role of memory in art, his evolution from AbEx to Pop Art to representational to paintooning (with a sideline in magazine illustration), his experience playing at CBGB's with the Steel Tips, his evening with Willem De Kooning, the belief that talent is a scam, why he doesn't sell his paintings (and who he's hoping to bequeath his paintings to), and a lot more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 261 - Robert WeilMar 20, 2018 01:21:08
Liveright Publishing editor-in-chief Robert Weil joins the show on the eve of this year's Festival Neue Literatur to talk about editing translations, why great translators are heroes (and ought to get credited on book covers), and his admiration/adoration for Barbara Perlmutter, winner of this year's Friedich Ulfers Prize. Along the way, we talk about the nuts-and-bolts of editing writers and why good writers want to be edited, the ongoing relevance of The Scarlet Letter and our Hawthorne vs. Melville takes, the most haunting line of Henry Roth, and Robert's incredible run of graphic novels (think Will Eisner, Robert Crumb, Jules Feiffer, and David Small). Plus, we bond over the fact that he edited one of my all-time favorite books: Clive James' Cultural Amnesia! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 260 - Jesse SheidlowerMar 12, 2018 54:53
Time for a books & booze break! Lexicographer/bartender Jesse Sheidlower returns to the show to talk about bartending at The Threesome Tollbooth, a very intimate cocktail experience in Brooklyn (as in, there's only space for two patrons and a bartender). We get into the origin of the Tollbooth and why it's neither a "speakeasy" nor immersive theater, the confession-booth aspect of the space and the sanctity of the bartender-patron relationship, the reasons classic cocktails become classic and why barely anyone's ever had a real daiquiri, and how you can get New Yorkers to stop looking at their phones. Plus, we talk about Jesse's new built-in bookshelves (which are a sight to behold)! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 259 - Lavie TidharMar 7, 2018 01:15:27
Science fiction author Lavie Tidhar joins the show to talk about the five topics that Israeli novelists are allowed to write about, his affinity for pulp fiction tropes, when it's okay to make fun of Hitler (which he does at great length in A Man Lies Dreaming), why he finds utopias sinister (hint: he was raised on a kibbutz), how to build a career on ambitious failure, the eye-opening experience of editing world anthologies of SF, the difference between having fans and having readers, the distracting joy of Twitter, why not getting published in Israel felt like a reverse-BDS movement, and what it's like never knowing which shelf a bookstore will decide to put his books. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 258 - Willard SpiegelmanFeb 27, 2018 01:17:58
Critic and essayist Willard Spiegelman returns to the show to talk about his new book, If You See Something, Say Something (SMU Press), collecting his art reviews from the Wall Street Journal. We get into the notion of legacy after his retirement from 45 years of teaching, then tackle the process of learning to look at paintings, his favorite museums, the question of whether David Hockney's happiness makes him less of an artistic genius than grim/tormented artists, whether one should buy art to match one's furniture, his love of Marfa, TX, the differences between being a pilgrim and a tourist, the role of curiosity as a remedy for boredom, the challenge of editing a literary magazine in this day and age, whether he's a role model to younger gay people, the first time he had a student who was the child of one of his first students (that is, when he realized he was getting old), and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 257 - Jerry BeckFeb 19, 2018 01:40:07
Animation historian Jerry Beck joins the show to talk about his recent Museum of Modern Art screening, Cartoons You Won’t See on TV (and the ongoing exhibition it accompanies). We get into Jerry's career arc, starting with his research gig for Leonard Maltin, the importance of curation in the arts, his role in the anime revolution in the US, the uphill battle to preserve and restore old cartoons, the book he's proudest of, the importance of talking to the old-time inkers and behind-the-scenes artists (and not just the big names), how he teaches animation history to students who grew up watching Rugrats, why What's Opera, Doc? is the greatest cartoon of all time, what's going to be in his dream animation festival, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 256 - Lauren WeinsteinFeb 14, 2018 01:27:02
Village Voice cartoonist Lauren Weinstein joins the show to talk about the balancing act of making comics. We get into how she integrates the political and the personal, finds humor alongside near-tragedy, and deals with the temptation to do self-help/identity comics. We also get into how she manages the tightrope walk of motherhood and comics-making (esp. with a 10-month-old who's constantly grabbing for her ink), the conversation around a comic she did about potentially passing along a hereditary disease to her unborn daughter, the moral tensions of teaching comics, drawing strips for digital vs. print, the transformative effect of reading Dan Clowes' Art School Confidential strip, having an on-stage persona for a mutant band where the mantra was "keep your eye off the ball", needing neck surgery but worrying how paralysis would affect her cartooning, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 255 - Henry WessellsFeb 6, 2018 01:20:50
Antiquarian book dealer Henry Wessells joins the show to talk about his new exhibition at the Grolier Club and its accompanying book, A Conversation larger than the Universe: Readings in Science Fiction and the Fantastic, 1762-2017 (Oak Knoll). We get into his collecting impulse and why he's not really a book collector, the childhood influence of Doc Savage and the adult influence of Robert Sheckley, Mary Shelley's primary role in the invention of science fiction, the relevance of John Crowley's Little, Big to our current moment, the ways the internet has changed book-collecting and casual reading, the vicarious thrill of book-dealing, our mutual teenaged meltdowns when we encountered Neuromancer, the unsung writers in his collection, the one book he wishes he owned, and a whole lot more. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 254 - Ann HulbertJan 30, 2018 01:08:23
Atlantic Monthly literary editor Ann Hulbert joins the show to talk about her new book, Off the Charts: The Hidden Lives and Lessons of American Child Prodigies (Knopf). We get into the history of child prodigies and what we can learn from the rest of their lives, how the prodigy experience can be a version of normal childhood writ large, and how to deal with the "race to nowhere" aspects of our high achievement culture. We also talk about Ann's career as a literary editor (from The New Republic to Slate to The Atlantic), the advantages of living outside the New York publishing ecosystem, the challenges of assigning books for review, the perils of monomania, her father's belief that children are "guests in the house", and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 253 - John LelandJan 23, 2018 01:03:18
New York Times reporter John Leland joins the show to talk about his new book, Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons from a Year Among the Oldest Old. We get into his year-long project of profiling 6 people aged 85+, how it blew up his preconceptions about old age and became an elderly version of The Real World, and what it taught him about living in the here and now. We also get into his history in journalism, his interest in The Beats, what it was like to arrive in NYC in 1977, the time he trained at a pro wrestling school, his decision to write a book treating On The Road as if it was a self-help book, which New York Times building he prefers, our shared love of David Gates' fiction, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 252 - Seymour Chwast & Ann RiveraJan 16, 2018 01:37:27
Legendary illustrator/designer/artist Seymour Chwast joins the show to talk about what it means to continue beyond "legendary" status. We get into his 60-plus-year career and why he can't slow down (much less retire), the impact of Push Pin Studios, the (de-)evolution of commercial art, his mutant hybrid of typography and design, the process of overcoming the anxiety that Saul Steinberg made all the great work already, the immediate gratification of woodcuts, the reason he makes classic literary adaptations, how a gay dance instructor helped him avoid the draft for the Korean war, and more! Then, our very first guest, Ann Rivera, drops in on the way home from MLA 2018 to talk about the future of the humanities, her love for Pete Bagge's bio of Zora Neale Hurston, whether students should be seen as consumers or constituents, the success of the Yale history department's revamp, the role of the public intellectual, the problems with academia's insularity, and the novel she returns to every year. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 251 - Paul Karasik & Mark NewgardenJan 9, 2018 01:15:18
How deep can deep reading go? Paul Karasik & Mark Newgarden talk about the 10-year project of exploring a single Nancy strip, for their new book How To Read Nancy: The Elements of Comics in Three Easy Panels (Fantagraphics). We get into the wonders of Ernie Bushmiller's signature strip, the transformative class they took with filmmaker Ken Jacobs, the malfunctioning tape recorder that led to the whole project, the challenges of getting Jerry Lewis to write the book's foreword, Nancy's role as proto-feminist, and more! Plus, I get them to talk about the secret story of the first time they met, where their collecting impulse came from, the pleasure of finding a good flea market, Art Spiegelman's strength as a teacher, how each of them teaches comics and how a lot of students have no sense of comics history, and how they keep the "ick" in "academic"! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 250 - Dave McKeanJan 3, 2018 01:23:19
Dave McKean, artist, writer, illustrator, cartoonist, designer, director, composer, and all-around creative force, joins the show to talk about how the story dictates the medium, why comics-making shouldn't be taught, the balancing act of collaborative and solo work, the missed opportunity of Tundra Publishing, his forays into theater and film with the WildWorks team and how they taught him to give up his control-freak nature, the influence of his jazz background, why it's okay sometimes to judge a book by its cover, the problem-solving nature of a long walk, how the early loss of his father plays out in his work, his tendency to start every project with a complete failure of confidence, and the confluence of forces that led to his amazing new book, Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
2017 Year-End Bonus Mini-EpisodeDec 26, 2017 22:30
Episode 249 - The Guest List 2017Dec 19, 2017 55:55
Three dozen of the year's Virtual Memories Show guests tell us about the favorite books they read in 2017 and the books they hope to get to in 2018! Guests include Pete Bagge, Kathy Bidus, Sven Birkerts, RO Blechman, Kyle Cassidy, Graham Chaffee, Howard Chaykin, Joe Ciardiello, John Clute, John Crowley, John Cuneo, Ellen Datlow, Samuel R. Delany, Nicholas Delbanco, Barbara Epler, Joyce Farmer, Sarah Williams Goldhagen, Paul Gravett, Liz Hand, Vanda Krefft, Michael Meyer, Cullen Murphy, Jeff Nunokawa, Mimi Pond, Eddy Portnoy, Keiler Roberts, Martin Rowson, Matt Ruff, Ben Schwartz, Vanessa Sinclair, Ann Telnaes, Michael Tisserand, Gordon Van Gelder, Shannon Wheeler, Wallis Wilde-Menozzi, Matt Wuerker . . . and me! Check out their selections at our site! Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 248 - Cullen MurphyDec 12, 2017 01:01:43
This podcast has been to Hicksville and Coconino, so why not Fairfield County, CT? Cullen Murphy's new book, Cartoon County: My Father and His Friends in the Golden Age of Make-Believe (FSG), tells the story of Prince Valiant cartoonist John Cullen Murphy and the community of cartoonists, illustrators and comic-book artists who settled the southeastern corner of Connecticut in the '50s and '60s. Cullen & I talk about the confluence of factors that led to that community and his goal of preserving that golden age in this book, his realization that "cartoonist" was not a normal job for one's dad, his own cartooning aspirations, what writing Prince Valiant with his father taught him about storytelling, how his upbringing around cartoonists affected how he worked with illustrators as a magazine editor, why his father stuck with realism and never worked in bigfoot style, and what Cartoon County taught him about himself & his family. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 247 - Vanda KrefftDec 4, 2017 01:19:10
Quick: Who is the "Fox" in 20th Century Fox? You'd know if you read Vanda Krefft's fantastic new book, The Man Who Made The Movies: The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of William Fox (Harper)! Vanda joins the show to talk about William Fox's contributions to the movies, why he's virtually unknown today, and how she discovered his story. We also get into her decade-plus experience of researching and writing the book, Vanda's transition from journalist to biographer, the limits of historical records, the damage Fox wrought on his extended family by supporting them, the biographer's need to correct for hindsight, the influence of Nancy Drew on her writing career, the contrasts of her early life in Canada and her adult life in the US, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 246 - Eddy PortnoyNov 27, 2017 01:11:14
Yiddish scholar and raconteur Eddy Portnoy joins the show to talk about his new book, Bad Rabbi: And Other Strange but True Stories from the Yiddish Press. We get into the tabloid craziness of bigamist rabbis, fights over a Jewish beauty queen, 600-lb. wrestlers, and the déclassé Jews of Poland and New York from the heyday of Yiddish newspapers. We also talk about how Eddy taught himself to read & write Yiddish as a teen and then turned a really fun hobby into a low-paying career, the slip of the microfilm dial that led to this book, his embarrassing story about meeting (and lecturing) Ben Katchor, his resemblance to Geddy Lee, the good fortune that led to preservation of Yiddish newspapers in eastern Europe, and more. But what will his poor mother think? • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 245 - Eshkol Nevo & Paul GravettNov 21, 2017 01:41:24
Israeli author Eshkol Nevo joins the show to talk about his new novel Three Floors Up (Other Press) and how he explained it to passport control on his visit to the US. We talk about how his fiction-writing career both integrates and rejects his past lives in advertising and psychology, explore the Robin Hood model of the creative writing school, and get into the background PTSD of daily life in Israel. Then comics scholar Paul Gravett rejoins the show to talk about his new exhibition, Mangasia: Wonderlands of Asian Comics, and the book that accompanies it. We get into the impact of manga across Asian culture (and beyond), his dream project of a Mexican comics retrospective, and how North Korea's comics visually portray their glorious leader. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 244 - Nicholas DelbancoNov 13, 2017 01:20:22
He's been blackening the blank page for more than 50 years, and now Nicholas Delbanco joins The Virtual Memories Show to talk about writing, teaching, and sleepwalking through life! We get into his new essay collection, Curiouser and Curiouser, the importance of establishing a writing routine or habit, the process of revising a decades-old trilogy in light of his growth as a writer, the art of faking spontaneity on the page, the value of a good MFA program, his refutation of his friends' belief that language is a finite resource and not a renewable one, his assessment that he's a minor writer (or, even worse, "a writer's writer"), and the place the deracinated consider home. Plus: I fall back into the trap of Acquisitive Alchemy! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 243 - Martin RowsonNov 7, 2017 01:11:30
"It can always get worse," says Martin Rowson, who's made a career out of highlighting the idiocy of politicians in his editorial cartoons. We talk about the purpose of satire, his preference for subversion over respectability, the benefits of considering himself a journalist rather than an artist, the advantages of being self-taught, the rationale for selling his original art to UKIP, his literary background and the adaptions he's done (The Waste Land, Tristram Shandy, Gulliver's Travels), the ones he hasn't done (Dorian Gray, Frankenstein), and the one he's working on now. Plus, we get into the change in his outlook when he began working in color (and when he turned 50), how to draw Trump, his disdain for modern fiction and why he killed off Martin Amis a half-dozen times in his old literary strip, and what it's like "committing assassination without the blood". • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 242 - George LoisOct 31, 2017 02:16:22
Legendary ad-man George Lois joins the show to talk about 50+ years of shaping American culture and to give us some Damn Good Advice. We start out with the day he quit his life as the Greek florist's son, began art school, and met the love of his life (all in the same day), before getting to the most prolific period in his monumental career, his experience as one of the first "ethnics" in the ad business, what goes into having The Big Idea, how he and Muhammad Ali busted each other's chops, how he created the ad that created Tommy Hilfiger, making those Esquire covers, getting fired off the Xerox account three times before making Xerox a household word, what he wants to do next (at 86), and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 241 - Barry BlittOct 23, 2017 01:10:22
Why is award-winning illustrator Barry Blitt so uncomfortable with the flap copy praise of his new decades-spanning compendium, Blitt (just out from Riverhead Books)? We spend an hour trying to get to the bottom of that, starting with his horror at looking back at his work (both from seeing rookie mistakes and from deciding he was better back then). We talk about how his New Yorker covers shifted from observational to topical illustrations, how he's become the de facto voice of that magazine, his Canadian roots (and how its attendant hockey fetish got him started as an illustrator), his first Mad magazine, his fear of overexposure, the difference between punching down and going for cheap laughs, and how he's made smartassery as career asset. Also, I bust his balls about his uncanny resemblance to Bob Balaban. (Photo by Angie Silverstein) • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 240 - John Crowley and Michael MeyerOct 17, 2017 01:07:54
One of my favorite authors, John Crowley, returns to the show to talk about his "final dress novel," the wonderful Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr (Saga Press). We talk about the sense of his various endings, writing a talking animal book that's actually about an old man dying, the challenges of reaching a broader audience and why he returned to fantastika, his retirement from teaching at Yale and his thoughts on how students have changed, his Catholic upbringing and how it informed his writing, the pressure of new rules and norms on writers, the radical challenge of sympathy, and more. But first, I call Michael Meyer to talk about his new book, The Road To Sleeping Dragon: Learning China from the Ground Up. We get into what Americans really need to know about China, how the country has changed in the 20+ years that he's been working and living there (on and off), and why Pittsburgh is the Beijing of the US. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 239 - Pete Bagge and Mimi PondOct 10, 2017 01:39:56
First Pete Bagge rejoins the show for a live Spotlight session at CXC - Cartoon Crossroads Columbus. We talk about FIRE!!, his new cartoon biography of Zora Neale Hurston, his shift from fiction to nonfiction comics, his interest in feminist icons who didn't ask for permission, dealing with cultural/gender appropriation issues in writing about women of color, expressing serious moments in his funnybones cartooning style, going through male menopause, making a living, and why he hasn't made any Buddy Bradley stories in a long time. Then, we get a few segments from my CXC spotlight session with Mimi Pond, where we talk about her creative process, sexism in comics, and what she misses about the '70s. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 238 - Shannon WheelerOct 2, 2017 01:17:22
It's late-night podcast-action with cartoonist Shannon Wheeler! We get into the history of his Too Much Coffee Man comics and his new book, Sh*t My President Says: The Illustrated Tweets of Donald J. Trump (Top Shelf), learning the language of cartooning at The New Yorker (and learning to work with a new editor there), the ways his architecture training informs his storytelling, his discovery of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers at WAY too young an age, the cartooning trick that made him want to draw, his dream project on the history of northern California, and the redemption of the guy who used to dress up as TMCM at conventions! It's coffee-fueled! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 237 - Ann Telnaes and Matt WuerkerSep 26, 2017 01:32:48
It's a double-Pulitzer-winner episode! First, the great editorial cartoonist, animator and essayist Ann Telnaes joins the show to talk about the role of satire against the abuse of power, her political awakening, her present sense of urgency and her upcoming Trump's ABC (Fantagraphics), the reaction to the Charlie Hebdo murders, the images editors won't print, and the sanctuary of the Alexander Calder room at the National Gallery. Then past guest and editorial cartoonist Matt Wuerker returns to the show (here's our first ep.) to talk about The Swamp, the loss of comity and the growth of tribalism in contemporary DC (characterized by that weekend's dueling rallies between Trump supporters and Juggalos), the problem with having easy targets, bringing conservative cartoons into his weekly roundup for Politico, taking up fly-fishing in his dotage, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal • Cartoon by Ann Telnaes for The Washington Post
Episode 236 - Mimi PondSep 19, 2017 01:24:13
Cartoonist and humorist Mimi Pond makes her third appearance on the show, this time to celebrate publication of The Customer is Always Wrong (Drawn & Quarterly). We talk about the joys of coming back to NYC (and her favorite diner in the city), the East Village becoming kitsch, the process of translating her book from prose to comics, the differences between working in print and making web-comics for The New Yorker, publishing the conclusion of her unreliable memoir and lamenting a story that didn't make it didn't make it into the book, navigating celebrity-adjacent moments in LA, her fascination with the Mitford sisters, her realization that San Diego Comic-Con is "cosplay concentration camp", having a very creative plan for dental coverage, why she considers Beverly Clearly the Hemingway of children's writers, her pet peeve of being shelved in bookstores beside superhero comics, and her great lesson for being an artist: "make friends with discomfort"! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 235 - Liz Hand and John CluteSep 12, 2017 01:20:53
It's another Readercon episode! First, Liz Hand rejoins the show for a little conversation about what she's been reading lately (it's some creepy stuff, of course), the regenerative aspects of Readercon, why the novella is ideal for dark/spooky fiction, and whether the attendee wearing an ASIA t-shirt is doing so ironically. Then John Clute talks about the ruins of futurity and the launch of the Clute Science Fiction Library at Telluride Institute. We get into the need for visual presentation and accessibility of original books in their context (including dust jackets), his transition from book accumulator to collector, the externalization of one's mind into one's library, why he doesn't write fiction, the Easter eggs he sneaks into the Science Fiction Encyclopedia, why Galaxy Quest is the best Star Trek movie (except for Wrath of Khan), reaching a uniform degree of incompletion, generational shifts in SF/F, and the sneaky adoption of Fantastika. (Goofy photo by Scott Edelman.) • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 234 - Kathy BidusSep 5, 2017 01:07:40
Poet/muse/amanuensis Kathy Bidus joins the show to talk about her contribution to the new collection SisterWriterEaters (Griffith Moon). Along the way, we get into her "quit college and move to New York" decision in the late '70s, the formation of an art salon in the early 80s, her Jean Valjean moment, meeting her husband (artist and past pod-guest Drew Friedman), Mad cartoonist Al Jaffee's impact on her sense of humor, the Old Jewish Comedian she's had a crush on all these years, what she learned from raising champion beagles, and the worst "please read my poetry" moment she ever had. Plus: I talk a LOT, mainly about dogs. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 233 - Ellen DatlowAug 30, 2017 01:27:54
Legendary (as in mega-award-winning) horror, science fiction and fantasy editor Ellen Datlow joins the show to talk about her career. We get into defining horror (and its subset, the conte cruel), how the business has changed and hasn't, the proper care and feeding of writers, dealing with diversity and representation in the anthologies she edits, finding good stories in translation, the pros and cons of blurring genre boundaries, keeping up with new voices, her preference for editing short fiction over novels, the writers she wishes she solicited stories from, running the monthly Fantastic Fiction reading series at the KGB Bar, the editing lesson she got from Ben Bova, and why it's never good when an author says, "This is the best thing I've ever written"! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 232 - Gordon Van GelderAug 22, 2017 01:25:54
Editor/publisher Gordon Van Gelder joins the show to talk about his career in the science fiction and fantasy fields. We get into publishing F&SF Magazine, coping with burnout, balancing the demands of art and business, exploring the differences between editing for magazines vs. anthologies, trying to avoid disruption, handling diversity issues without implementing a quota, figuring out the dystopian theme of his current run of anthologies, dealing with the cultural, um, norms of stories of past decades, avoiding the perils of chasing "name" authors and rejecting a story by Ray Bradbury, making the shift from print to online, watching new writers develop a strong voice, working with the necessary egotism of writers, explaining how the internet has wrecked SF/F criticism, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 231 - Sven BirkertsAug 15, 2017 01:56:10
In the '90s, Sven Birkerts cautioned us about the impact of technology on reading with The Gutenberg Elegies. In 2017, we mute our iPhones to talk about his new book, Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Internet Age (Graywolf Press). We dive into the impact of digital technology on perception and identity, but also get into the way life becomes a thematic puzzle in middle age, why he stepped down from his role directing the low-residency MFA program at Bennington, the joy of bringing his favorite writers in as instructors (and the ones he regrets not getting), the challenge of interviewing fiction writers, his big literary 0-fer and what I'm missing about Virginia Woolf, how he's adapting to a year-long sabbatical and how he understands his writing life, what he's learned editing the literary magazine AGNI, and why the prerequisite for anything he's reading is that it has to be more interesting to me than whatever it is he's vaguely brooding about. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 230 - Patty FarmerAug 8, 2017 01:10:38
How did Patty Farmer go from businesswoman to historian of the Playboy empire? "I don't do well when I'm bored," she tells me, as we talk about her new book/oral history, Playboy Laughs: The Comedy, Comedians, and Cartoons of Playboy. We get into the cultural impact of Playboy (the clubs, resorts and jazz festivals, not just the magazine), my own history with same, the process of becoming friends with one's interviewees, gaining access to Hugh Hefner's immense archives, combining comedians and cartoonists into a single volume, the amazing work Hef did as a cartoon editor, how she swung from business deals to entertainment history, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 229 - Matt RuffJul 31, 2017 01:18:01
Novelist Matt Ruff joins the show to talk about how his fantastic novel Lovecraft Country began as a TV pitch 10 years ago, and is now on its way to becoming an HBO series. We get into cultural appropriation issues (Matt's white and LC's about a black family dealing with racism and the supernatural in 1950s Chicago), the pros and cons of genre-hopping, the differences between mid-century racism in the North and the South, growing up over the course of his first three novels and learning to be happy with his voice, becoming friends with one of his favorite authors (past and future pod-guest John Crowley), his ambivalence toward HP Lovecraft and Philip K. Dick and his affinity for their imitators, why he loved the descriptions of late Heinlein novels but was disappointed by the books themselves (when he was 12!), bucking his family's religious traditions, missing his opportunity to babysit Thomas Pynchon's kid, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 228 - Ellen ForneyJul 25, 2017 01:22:45
The great Seattle cartoonist Ellen Forney joins the show to talk about comics, art, being bipolar, and the challenges of maintaining! We talk about her 2012 graphic memoir, Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me, finding a graphic representation of her depressive states, the evolution in her drawing style, the letter she stole from Michael Dougan, the process of going from comics panels to enormous murals for a light-rail station in Seattle, the influence of the Moosewood Cookbook, the importance of a psychology stats class she took in college, how she learned to teach comics, the moment when she felt she was using all her artistic tools, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 227 - Ben SchwartzJul 18, 2017 01:40:59
Comedy writer, journalist and screenwriter Ben Schwartz joins the show to talk serious laughs. We discuss his work on American humor between the wars, writing for Billy Crystal on the Oscars and his contributions to David Letterman's monologues, the profundity of Jack Benny and the importance of Bob Hope, his amazing (but unproduced) screenplay about Bob Hope and Larry Gelbart in Korea, how Jaime Hernandez' comics prepared him to move to LA, his take on Charlie Hebdo, and what it's like having the same name as the actor who played Jean-Ralphio on Parks & Rec! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 226 - Joyce FarmerJul 11, 2017 01:11:51
"I'm not interested in doing something if it isn't groundbreaking." Joyce Farmer joins the show to talk about her transition from housewife to underground cartoonist legend, the adventure of disposing of 40,000 copies of her comic when the state of California was trying to pinch her and her partner, traveling the world and landing in Greece, making Special Exits, the heartbreaking comic memoir about the death of her folks after a decade or two away from cartooning, and why she could swear and curse just as much as her male underground peers. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 225 - Howard ChaykinJul 4, 2017 01:58:25
Comics legend Howard Chaykin joins the show to talk about his career, the early assignment he'll never live down, getting clean and being boringly sober, how Gil Kane taught him how to behave as a cartoonist, why he's never gone to a strip club, what it's like to be a brand but not a fan-favorite, his love of television and his hatred of writing for television, the reason he brought Jewish leads (and reformed shitheels) to mainstream comics, the narrative values that led to his innovative page designs, discovering his bastardy in his 40s, the role of music and musicality in his work, why Jersey Boys makes him cry, and the influence of American Flagg! on multiple generations of cartoonists (for better and worse). • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 224 - Graham ChaffeeJun 27, 2017 01:19:51
Master tattooist and comics artist Graham Chaffee joins the show to talk about his new graphic noir, To Have & To Hold (Fantagraphics)! We get into the culture(s) of LA and why it's the quintessential 20th century American city, the way the internet has changed the tattoo business, Graham's history with comics, the difference between the story and the plot, his lengthy hiatus from making comics and what brought him back to it, the joys of drawing a good dog, the accidental portrayal of race in his comics, and the time he did a full-back tattoo portraying the dark night of Lisa Simpson's soul! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 223 - Joe CiardielloJun 19, 2017 01:30:28
Award-winning illustrator Joe Ciardiello reflects on 43 years as a freelancer, the jazz portraits that turned his career around, his drumming and how it influences his artwork, having more illustrator-friends than non-illustrator-friends, why he'd rather not be called a caricaturist, the time he was accused of ripping off the style of one of his idols, the search for perfect pen and paper (and how he keeps his Rapidographs working), and his amazing Spaghetti Journal project! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 222 - Arnie LevinJun 13, 2017 02:03:36
Cartooning, illustration and animation legend Arnie Levin joins the show to recount his epic career and life. We talk about Beatnik-era New York, his mother's decades-long plot to turn him into a New Yorker cartoonist, the value of a good art director, telling the Marines he wanted to be a photographer, his two-minute education in directing animation, what it was like to see his style copied by an artist who was previously copying another artist's style, the time Allen Ginsberg tried to give him an iguana, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 221 - Kyle CassidyJun 6, 2017 01:09:20
Photojournalist (or "artist who sometimes uses a camera") Kyle Cassidy returns to talk about his new book, This Is What A Librarian Looks Like! Along the way, we also talk photography, the difference between knowledge and information, the heroism of NASA scientists, the example of Mr. Rogers, his continued use of LiveJournal, the joy of running, and how he convinced his wife that they should take vacations to visit libraries. Also, his cat Roswell gets his two cents in! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 220 - SethMay 30, 2017 01:14:25
Seth returns to the show to talk about Palookaville, making a living, his changing relationship to comics and cartoonists, his retrospection on the '90s cohort he came up with, the creative sanctity of the studio and the creation of art no one will see, finishing his Clyde Fans serial after 20 years (and what he wants to work on next, being the subject of a documentary, seeing his work animated, doing collaborative work, taking up photography, a key lesson he learned about marriage, the disadvantages of being a people pleaser, why Kickstarter may be like an IQ test, and more! Plus, he asks me some questions! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 219 - Keiler RobertsMay 23, 2017 01:03:10
Cartoonist Keiler Roberts joins the show to talk about her new book, Sunburning (Koyama Press). Oh, and parenthood, bipolar disorder, the avoidance of style, learning art while teaching art, making snap judgements about parents, having the world's worst wedding photos, trimming a 150-page memoir down to 12 pages, and why she cried when she got a blurb from Roz Chast! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 218 - RO BlechmanMay 17, 2017 01:33:00
Legendary cartoonist, illustrator, animator, ad-man, artist RO Blechman joins the show to talk about his work and life. We get into the importance of play, the development of his trademark squiggly line (and how he feels when he sees it in other people's work), his literary upbringing, why he counsels against going to art school, the fateful career decision that he rues 60+ years later, his Mad Men experience and what he learned about management from running his own animation studio, the mistake of turning down a Curious George movie, creating a fore-runner of the graphic novel, and being a 2-D character in a 3-D world. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 217 - Vanessa SinclairMay 9, 2017 01:05:40
Make psychoanalysis subversive again! Vanessa Sinclair joins the show to talk about her new book, Switching Mirrors. We get into psychoanalysis, art and the occult, magical thinking (good and bad), Vanessa's use of cut-up theory and practice, finding The Third Mind with her collaborator, Katelan Foisy, how she went from ghost-hunter to psychoanalyst, the problem with the lack of rites of passage in western culture, where psychology went wrong, having a book problem, and co-founding an underground anarchist psychoanalyst gang! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 216 - George ProchnikMay 2, 2017 01:32:03
"Scholem teaches us that the Jewish tradition is so capacious it could embrace its own subversion." George Prochnik returns to The Virtual Memories Show to talk about his new book, Stranger in a Strange Land: Searching for Gershom Scholem and Jerusalem (Other Press). We get into the life of Jewish mysticism's greatest scholar, how the theories of Zionism butted up against the reality of Palestine and Israel, the alchemical friendship of Scholem and Walter Benjamin, the other Walt in Scholem's life, the way Kabbalah serves as the hidden, subterranean layer of Judaism, Scholem's example of a life lived in resistance, the great contrast of Scholem with Prochnik's previous biographical subject, Stefan Zweig, and our author's addiction to Jerusalem and the books he hasn't escaped in 30 years! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 215 - Charif MajdalaniApr 25, 2017 01:00:57
Charif Majdalani has been called the Lebanese Proust, thanks to his series of novels chronicling the modern history of his home country. He joins the show this week to celebrate the first American publication of his wonderful novel, Moving the Palace (New Vessel Press). We talk about the the dynamic of French and Arabic languages, Lebanon's fixation on the eternal present and its sense of living under the volcano, his process of escaping his literary influences, why he needed to get away to France to gain perspective on home, and what he wants to do on his first trip to America. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 214 - Wallis Wilde-MenozziApr 18, 2017 01:15:08
Poet, novelist and essayist Wallis Wilde-Menozzi returns to the show to talk about her novel, Toscanelli's Ray, the ways Italy has changed in her four decades there, her recent work in narrative medicine, survival tips from living through the Berlusconi era, writing a polyphonic novel of Florence in the '90s and hearing how those voices have changed, differences between her Italian and American students, balancing poetry and prose, her favorite book of the Divine Comedy (we also get into why I like a different one), accidentally winning a DAR award when she was a schoolgirl, what foods she misses when she's in the US, thinking in Italian, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 213 - Sarah Williams GoldhagenApr 11, 2017 01:11:00
Why are our buildings crushing our quality of life? Sarah Williams Goldhagen joins the show to talk about her new book, Welcome To Your World (Harper), and how we can live in a better built environment. We get into cognitive neuroscience and the theory of mind-body-environment consciousness, the perils of lowest-common-denominator construction and design, the perils of the "starchitect" phenomenon, the limits of Jane Jacobs' urban proscriptions, the experience of going on urban planning vacations as a kid with her dad, how she and her family wound up living in a converted church in East Harlem, the challenges of architecture criticism, how her book was predicted by one of my favorite 1980s comics, the planning process a year-long around-the-world trip, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 212 - Samuel R. DelanyApr 4, 2017 01:11:10
Legendary author (and longtime pal) Samuel R. Delany joins the show to talk about the sex lives of older gay men, how he's taken to Facebook, how losing his library is akin to lobotomization, the writers he misses, Star Wars, his attraction to homeless men, retiring from teaching, the one thing he wanted to teach students but was never allowed to, the split between good writing and award-winning writing, and his passive-aggressive technique for getting me to organize a breakfast brunch for him. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 211 - John CuneoMar 28, 2017 01:37:20
Award-winning illustrator John Cuneo joins the show to talk about his new work, Not Waving But Drawing (Fantagraphics Underground), the arc of 40 years of work and art and artwork, the process of moving from a collection of mannerisms to a style, his insecurity about his working-class upbringing and lack of artistic education, the cliff-diving aspect of the blank sheet of paper and why good drawing is courage, keeping his son out of the family business, the dynamic of New Yorker illustrators vs. cartoonists, what brought him to Woodstock, what keeps him there, and the bizarrely storied history of his home, why so many dirty pictures, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 210 - Tony TulathimutteMar 21, 2017 01:13:24
I get over my insecurity about younger authors and talk with Tony Tulathmiutte about his debut novel, Private Citizens! We discuss his critique of the idea of voice-of-a-generation novels, the heavy and weird expectations of being an Asian-American writer, the impossibility of satire, what he got out of his years working in Silicon Valley, writing good bad sex, and his discovery that Jonathan Franzen thinks he uses "overly interesting verbs". • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 209 - Jeff NunokawaMar 14, 2017 01:45:26
For more than a decade, Princeton literature professor Jeff Nunokawa has posted beautiful daily essays using Facebook Notes. We talk about how he discovered that form, the audience that grew around his work, writing without links, the experience of producing a print edition of the notes, and his ambivalence over the final product. We get into the negative review that affirmed all of his self-doubts and pushed him toward his goal of becoming transparent, the benefits of consolatory drivel, dreaming of the next day's note and making writing a source of pleasure, his mixed-race heritage (his dad's Japanese, his mom's caucasian-American) and his childhood in the 60s, his 30 years at Princeton, his joy at living in the same world as Torres and Ronaldo, and why you have to feel homesick before you feel home. Oh, and there's a heartbreaking story of how he came out to his parents, plus I do a lot more talking than usual. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 208 - Barbara EplerMar 7, 2017 01:04:42
New Directions publisher Barbara Epler joins the show to talk about her accidental career, the pros and cons of New Directions' size, the Moneyball aspect of publishing works in translation, surviving a Nobel crush, the importance of secondary rights, the language she most wishes she could read, the novel she promises never to write, the book whose success surprised her the most, where WG Sebald's work might have gone, and more! This is part of our Festival Neue Literatur series; Barbara is the 2017 recipient of the FNL's Friedrich Ulfers Prize! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 207 - Garth GreenwellFeb 28, 2017 01:16:44
Garth Greenwell joins the show to talk about the poetics of cruising (and cruising's great leveling potential) in his life and in his debut novel What Belongs to You, the hyper-masculine culture and homophobia of Bulgaria, his concern that contemporary English-language writers don't read in other languages (or read in translation), his role chairing the 2017 Festival Neue Literatur, the dangers of LGBTQ mainstreaming, the fragility of cosmopolitanism, the state of queer fiction, and our mutual admiration of Samuel R. Delany! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 206 - Jessa CrispinFeb 21, 2017 01:10:07
Bookslut founder Jessa Crispin rejoins the show (here's her 2014 episode) to talk about her new book, Why I Am Not A Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto (Melville House), while I gripe over the fact that it's the third book she's published since we recorded in 2014. We also get into learning to stop reading reviews, the aftereffects of carrying her belongings on her back for 18 months, the black magic revival and her experience as a tarot card reader, her detachment from NYC publishing culture, her fascination for Catholicism and female saints, falling in love with opera, never quite getting over the core guilt of her Protestant upbringing, and why she won't leave the US for good and won't write about expat Paris! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 205 - Patrick McDonnellFeb 13, 2017 01:15:03
Mutts creator Patrick McDonnell joins the show to talk about getting a late start on his career as a daily strip cartoonist, how Mutts has changed in its 23 years, the evolution of his interest in animal advocacy, the overlap of comic strips and poetry, finding his Coconino County in the New Jersey suburbs, learning from Jules Feiffer's paste-ups, the greatest blurb he'll ever get, taking up painting, finding joy in collaborating (occasionally), and how the gospel of Peanuts taught him that the essence of life is love. (We also talk about what to do after you've lost a long-loved dog.) • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 204 - Phillip LopateFeb 7, 2017 01:30:47
Is wisdom possible? One of my favorite writers, Phillip Lopate, returns to The Virtual Memories Show to talk about his new book, A Mother's Tale, where he revisits a series of taped conversations he had with his mother in the mid-'80s (and didn't listen to for 30+ years). We talk about listening to his mother's voice years after her death, whether I should record with my parents, the way people try to be honest but back away in the face of their own mythologies, the one venue he's always wanted to write for, the border traffic between fiction and nonfiction, the impact of the 2016 presidential election on his psyche, his prediction for the New York Mets, what it's like for him to write a blog and the mistrust between mother and son that never goes away. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 203 - Ben YagodaJan 31, 2017 01:20:43
Author Ben Yagoda joins the show to talk about teaching journalism, his 40 years (!) of writing language columns, the influence of Harry Potter own his students, the history of the memoir, the mystery of why the "Great American Songbook" withered after WWII, his hatred of the term "creative nonfiction", the invasion of Britishisms into American English, the challenges of watching sporting events on tape delay, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 202 - Karen GreenJan 23, 2017 01:03:53
Karen Green, Curator of the Comics and Cartoons collection at Columbia University, joins the show to talk about her secret origin! How did she go from bartender to medieval scholar to comics librarian? We get into the evolution of the library and comics scholarship, her proudest acquisitions, her love of NYC and being a bartender there in the '80s, reading Playboy for the cartoons, the experience of having a portrait done by Drew Friedman, her Venn diagram with Mimi Pond, and the one cartoonist she's speechless around. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 201 - Brad GoochJan 17, 2017 01:15:14
Brad Gooch returns to the show to talk about his new book, Rumi's Secret: The Life of the Sufi Poet of Love (Harper). We dive right into Brad's Orientalist fantasy of researching Rumi and the realpolitik that intruded on it (including getting detained at gunpoint), how he recreated the polyglot, multi-religious culture of 13th century Turkey (hint: it involved having to learn Farsi), the temptation to psychologize Rumi's life, why the poet's work has survived all these centuries (and what makes it so tweetable), what his own new fatherhood taught him about Rumi's later years, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 200 - Thomas DolbyJan 10, 2017 01:14:49
My guest for this special anniversary show is musician, tech entrepreneur, professor and now memoirist Thomas Dolby! We talk about his new book, The Speed of Sound: Breaking the Barriers Between Music and Technology: A Memoir (Flatiron Books), the upsides and downsides of his major careers, the gestalt of artist-artwork-audience, his curious mixture of shyness and arrogance, our respective imposter syndromes, teaching music for films, moving beyond the keyboard as a computer interface, having students who don't know about his music career, looking back at his life and starting to figure out the big picture, and the one rock band that doesn't find Spinal Tap funny! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 199 - Michael TisserandJan 3, 2017 01:30:57
Michael Tisserand joins the show to talk about his fantastic new book, Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White (Harper). We discuss Krazy Kat, race in America, newsroom culture, doing research on microfilm in the age of Google, the allure of New Orleans, what it was like to write the biography of an enigma, and a lot more. So don't be a bald-faced gazooni! Give it a listen! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 198 - Ed WardDec 20, 2016 01:22:29
Lifelong rock & roll journalist Ed Ward joins the show to talk about his new book, The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1963 (Flatiron Books). We get into how he discovered his calling, how he memorized Billboard charts the way other kids memorized baseball cards, the joy of being a "rootless cosmopolitan", the music world's shift from A&R to audience-driven songwriting (and why they were tired of guys named Bobby from Philadelphia), why Tutti Frutti is the "first" rock & roll record, how he wound up in Texas, the experience of meeting 50-somethings who don't know Chuck Berry's Maybelline, how he got hired at and fired from Rolling Stone, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 197 - The Guest List 2016Dec 13, 2016 45:52
More than 30 of the year's Virtual Memories Show guests tell us about the favorite books they read in 2016 and the books they hope to get to in 2017! Guests include Glen Baxter, Ross Benjamin, Harold Bloom, MK Brown, Nina Bunjevac, Hayley Campbell, David M. Carr, Myke Cole, Liza Donnelly, Bob Eckstein, Glynnis Fawkes, Rachel Hadas, Liz Hand, Glenn Head, Virginia Heffernan, Harry Katz, Ed Koren, David Leopold, Arthur Lubow, Michael Maslin, David Mikics, Ben Model, Christopher Nelson, Jim Ottaviani, Ann Patty, Burton Pike, Frank Sorce, Willard Spiegelman, Leslie Stein, Tom Tomorrow (a.k.a. Dan Perkins), Andrea Tsurumi, Carol Tyler, Jim Woodring, and me, Gil Roth! Check out their selections at our site! Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 196 - Myke ColeNov 29, 2016 01:26:45
Myke Cole joins the show to talk about military fantasy, his fantasies about the military, his journey from IT to CIA to merc to Coast Guard to fantasy writer, his biggest nerd-out moment, how he came up with his "Black Hawk Down Meets The X-Men" Shadow Ops series, understanding PTSD, the importance of having a plan for crisis management, reconciling his art, politics, job, and readership, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 195 - Thanksgiving 2016 SpecialNov 23, 2016 24:46
For Thanksgiving 2016, more than two dozen past Virtual Memories Show guests chime in on what they're thankful for, including Glen Baxter, Roz Chast, Liz Hand, Hayley Campbell and Tom Spurgeon! (Think of this as a time capsule for what life was like among writers and artists immediately after the 2016 U.S. presidential election.) And there are more contributions, including photos by Jonathan Hyman and cartoons from Bob Eckstein, at chimeraobscura.com/vm/thanksgiving-2016 • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal, and have a happy Thanksgiving!
Episode 194 - Bob EcksteinNov 13, 2016 01:32:52
Artist, writer, humorist and cartoonist Bob Eckstein joins the show to talk about his wonderful new book, Footnotes from the World's Greatest Bookstores: True Tales and Lost Moments from Book Buyers, Booksellers, and Book Lovers. We get into the origins of the project, how he survived the sheer volume of bookstore-cat stories, how he once got dirty in the back shelves of the Strand Bookstore, getting introduced to art by Sports Illustrated, a great lesson in comic timing, getting a late start in cartooning but making up for lost time, marrying his biggest enemy from art school (and eloping to Iceland), becoming a champion of bookstore culture, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show at Patreon or Paypal
Episode 193 - Ed KorenNov 8, 2016 01:09:49
Ed Koren's cartoons and covers have graced The New Yorker for more than 50 years, so it was honor to record with him during CXC about his career, his perspective on generations of cartoonists, the development of his unique style (he has a good answer to my question, "Why so hairy?"), the persistence of his middle-class work ethic, his first encounter with the Undergrounds, his lithography "uptown" art, the advantages of having small ambitions, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 192 - Jim WoodringNov 1, 2016 58:20
The great Jim Woodring rejoins the show to talk art, comics and the Unifactor! During a break at SPX 2016, we sat down to discuss the importance of Fantagraphics on its 40th anniversary, Jim's move to Seattle in the 70s and his move away from there last year, camaraderie with the artists of his generation, what he'd do if he was just starting out as a cartoonist today, the experience of seeing Frank in 3-D, the joys of drawing with a six-foot pen, just what Art is there for, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 191 - Ben KatchorOct 27, 2016 53:13
Ben Katchor rejoins the show to talk about the 25th anniversary edition of Cheap Novelties: The Pleasures of Urban Decay (Drawn & Quarterly)! We talk about those aforementioned pleasures, the boredom of the modern flaneur, his evolution from genre fandom to "literary comics" (my awful term, not his), the danger in comics becoming over-academic, and the challenges of writing a world history. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 190 - Liza DonnellyOct 18, 2016 01:08:10
New Yorker cartoonist and women's rights activist Liza Donnelly joins the show to talk about becoming a live-drawing legend (among other things). We get into the weird overlap of respectability, responsibility and cartooning, as well as her work for Cartooning for Peace, the joys of drawing on the subway, how she benefited from Tina Brown's love of snarky women, why she's considering (but is daunted by) a long-form comic, the evolution of her feminist consciousness, and her trouble drawing George Clooney. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 189 - Glen BaxterOct 11, 2016 56:57
Artist Glen Baxter joins the show for a conversation about his new collection, Almost Completely Baxter: New and Selected Blurtings (New York Review Comics). We get into the roots of his absurdism, his first visit to New York City in the '70s and how it changed his life, where his cowboy-thing started, why he doesn't define himself as either an artist or a cartoonist (but maybe as a visual poet?), the challenge of doing long-form narrative when so much of his work is single-panel, our mutual dislike of the contemporary art scene, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 188 - Hayley CampbellOct 3, 2016 01:11:32
Writer and Twitter provocateur Hayley Campbell joins the show for a conversation about her inability to describe her job (don't call her a "content provider"). We talk about her obsession with obsessives, growing up in comics royalty (her dad is the great cartoonist Eddie Campbell), Alan Moore's magic tricks, her book on Neil Gaiman, nearly losing a comic-shop job because of her lack of a college degree, the celebrity retweet she's proudest of, and having an accidental career path, no fixed home, and a traumatic brain injury that gooses with her memory (and whether those are somehow connected). Also, we get into how she embarrassed Jonathan Safran Foer, how she nerded out over John Carpenter, why she took up boxing, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 187 - Tom GauldSep 27, 2016 01:05:49
Cartoonist & illustrator Tom Gauld joins the show to talk about his new book, Mooncop (Drawn & Quarterly), and the post-optimistic view of the future. We get into his drawing and storytelling influences, how he got a weekly gig doing literary gags at The Guardian, why he likes doing illustration work, the time he melted down when he met his comics-idols, how he got his first New Yorker cover, the two key elements of productivity for all artists and writers (coffee & walking) and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 186 - Michael MaslinSep 21, 2016 01:17:15
Michael Maslin joins the show to talk about his new book, Peter Arno: The Mad, Mad World of The New Yorker's Greatest Cartoonist (Regan Arts). We talk about his own career at The New Yorker, marrying a fellow cartoonist, becoming a cartoon detective, the allure of Arno and the days when cartoonists were cited in gossip mags, why it took him 15 years to write this biography, and more! (Drawing of me & Michael by Liza Donnelly) • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 185- Willard SpiegelmanSep 13, 2016 01:14:11
Willard Spiegelman returns to the show to talk about his new book, Senior Moments: Looking Back, Looking Ahead (FSG). We get into the process of deaccessioning, Mark Strand's advice on paring down to 100 books, Willard's take on 45 years living in Dallas (and what he'll miss about it now that he's retired), the joy of getting lost in Italy, the best way to pick someone up in NYC, the contrast of his 50th high school and college reunions, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 184 - David M. CarrSep 7, 2016 01:23:00
Biblical scholar David M. Carr joins the show to talk about his book, Holy Resilience: The Bible's Traumatic Origin. We get into how the Hebrew and Christian scriptures were shaped, the parallels between trauma and religion, the personal trauma that led to his thesis, the perils of applying modern psychology to antiquity, how he balances his faith with his scholarship, the problems with seeing yourself as "chosen", the personal and communal trauma of 9/11, and more! • More info about this episode at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 183 - Jeff GomezAug 30, 2016 01:12:29
Transmedia producer Jeff Gomez (also @Jeff_Gomez) joins the show to talk about the evolution of storytelling. We get into how the internet is driving communal narrative, the role of fandom in our culture, the way every new media is touted as the Destroyer of Worlds, the outgrowth of "canonical" storytelling and his one-time role as Keeper of the Canon at a comic company, the parallels between sports-nerds and fantasy-nerds, the old entertainment properties he really wishes he could work on, and just what it was in his childhood that led him into this role. More info about this episode at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 182 - Virginia HeffernanAug 23, 2016 01:44:11
"It's very, very weird to do something along with three billion other people." Cultural critic Virginia Heffernan joins the show to talk about her new book, Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art (Simon & Schuster)! We talk about what's behind the screen, why the internet is bigger than the Industrial Revolution, her first experience online in 1979, what it's like to be in a piece of performance art with half the world's population, her crushing defeat at meeting Joan Didion, why she's nostalgic for landline phones, the motive motive of Pokemon Go, asking The New York Times to host a shred-guitar competition, and why there's value in Reading The Comments! More info about this episode at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 181 - Chris RoseAug 16, 2016 01:00:41
Chris Rose wrote the definitive book of life in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, 1 Dead in Attic. I caught up with him for his Magical Musical Mystery History walking tour of the French Quarter, and after we sat down in Harry's Corner bar and talked about his life, his art, his three literary feuds, how he went from winning a Pulitzer Prize to waiting tables, going from celebrity-stalker to the Bard of the Crescent City, the myths and truths of the French Quarter, and a whole lot more. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show on Patreon or Paypal
Episode 180 - Leslie SteinAug 9, 2016 01:10:04
Cartoonist Leslie Stein joins the show to talk about her new book, Time Clock (Fantagraphics)! We get into her diary comics (recently collected in Bright-Eyed At Midnight), why she picked a really weird name for her ongoing comics project (Eye of the Majestic Creature), the artistic benefits of boredom, finding her style(s), drawing for online vs. print, her strategy for surviving comic cons and festival, and how she strikes a balance of cartooning, being in a band, and tending bar. Recorded at SVA in NYC. More info about this episode at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 179 - Andrea TsurumiAug 2, 2016 01:22:17
Rising comics star -- don't blame me, that's what Publishers Weekly just called her -- Andrea Tsurumi joins the show to talk about her new collection, Why Would You Do That? (Hic & Hoc Publications). We get into her off-kilter sense of humor and why I love it, why she chose that title, the most sadistic children's book ever written and why she adapted it, the comics industry's saving grace (it's too small to fail), staged photos during the Civil War, the challenge of teaching comics, her attempt at a work/art/life balance, the comics, cartoons and picture books that influenced/warped her, why she left New York, the truth about cakes vs. pies, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show on Patreon or Paypal
Episode 178 - Arthur LubowJul 25, 2016 01:38:45
Arthur Lubow's fantastic new book, Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer (Ecco), explores the life and death of a key figure in the history of photography-as-art. We talk about the evolution of photography from documentation to expression, the role Diane Arbus played in that transformation, her sensibility and intellect and how she expressed them both in her photography and her writing, Arbus' collaborative method of portraiture, her fascination with and sympathy for "freaks", why it's counterproductive to look to Arbus' photos for clues to her suicide, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 177 - MK BrownJul 19, 2016 01:05:03
Legendary cartoonist MK Brown joins the show to talk about her lifetime in comics and art, her years with B. Kliban, the ups and downs of The National Lampoon the balancing act of motherhood and art, the trepidation at organizing a multi-decade collection of her work, her love of westerns, her secret stash of unprintable comics and gags, and why she goes by "MK". Sponsored by The American Bystander! • More info about this episode at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 176 - Malcolm MargolinJul 10, 2016 01:31:04
After a remarkable 40-year career, publisher Malcolm Margolin is retiring from Heyday Books in Berkeley. He joins the show to talk about the liberation of being unimportant, why you build a roundhouse to fall apart, the "dress code" necessary to make things palatable to a mainstream audience, the craziest golf foursome ever, the two-week-plus run of LSD that may have changed his life, his efforts to chronicle California Indian culture, his next act(s), and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 175 - Paul MavridesJul 5, 2016 01:23:27
Legendary artist and cartoonist Paul Mavrides joins the show to talk about Underground Comix, the Church of the SubGenius, the Zapruder film, black mold, Idiots Abroad, Richard Nixon's threat on his life, and the time he traded an issue of Zap Comix for a copy of Awake! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 174 - Ann PattyJun 27, 2016 01:22:39
Why did former publisher and book editor Ann Patty start studying Latin at age 58? Find out in our conversation about her book, Living with a Dead Language: My Romance with Latin (Viking). We talk about her deep dive into a dead language, the "Living Latinist" revival, her unceremonious exit from the NY publishing world, the terror of the blank page, the perils of groupthink, how her pursuit of Latin reconciled her to the memory of her mother, and more! More info about this episode at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 173 - Christopher NelsonJun 20, 2016 01:24:51
My two-year term at St. John's College's Graduate Institute was the most important part of my life. During my recent trip back to Annapolis, I sat down with SJC's outgoing president Christopher Nelson to talk about lessons learned during his 26-year tenure, the books that guided him to the college, the ones he returns to, and the ones that gave him the most trouble as an undergrad, what he'll miss and what he hopes to do next, his key advice for his successor, and more! More info about this episode at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 172 - Glynnis FawkesJun 14, 2016 01:00:59
Glynnis Fawkes joins the show to talk about archeology, comics, dig romances, Homer and more! We celebrate her award-winning new comic, Alle Ego, figure out how to make art while raising a family (hint: mine your family to make the art), explore the correlation of Greek vases to comics, and lament the savage history of Troy and Gallipoli, while embracing the comics-centric world of Angouleme! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show at Patreon or Paypal
Episode 171 - Jim OttavianiJun 7, 2016 01:12:20
Jim Ottaviani joins the show to talk about his new graphic biography, The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded, drawn by Leland Purvis (Abrams ComicArts). We get into how Jim went from nuclear engineering to writing comics about scientists, what drew him to the life of Alan Turing, why emotional truth plus factual truth must be greater than 100%, the challenge of conveying hard concepts and theories to lay-readers, the difference between ordinary geniuses and extraordinary geniuses, how his engineering background feeds his storytelling mode, and more! More info available at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
NJPoet_Episode_1_-_My_Twitter_Life.mp3Jun 1, 2016 38:42
Episode 170 - Chester Brown, Nina Bunjevac & #NJPoet's CornerMay 31, 2016 01:19:24
The Paying For It Players return! Chester Brown and Nina Bunjevac rejoin the show to perform a chapter from Chester's amazing new book, Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus! Then we talk with Chester about his understanding of God, the role of prostitution in the Bible, and the girlfriend who got him started reading Biblical scholarship. Then Nina Bunjevac talks about her response to the European book tour for Fatherland, and her lament for small bookstores in North America. Plus, Charles Bivona's monthly #NJPoet's Corner segment focuses on his life on Twitter! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show on Patreon or Paypal
Episode 169 - David MikicsMay 23, 2016 01:11:50
David Mikics joins the show to talk about his new book, Bellow's People: How Saul Bellow Made Life Into Art (Norton). We talk about Bellow's legacy, his transmutations of life into art, David's humorously accidental introduction to his work, whether Philip Roth was right when he told Bruce Jay Friedman, "Saul Bellow am de daddy of us all," and more. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 168 - Harry KatzMay 17, 2016 01:18:32
Harry Katz, former head curator of prints and photographs for the Library of Congress, joins the show to talk about his new project on David Levine, his love for Herblock, how his work on the Civil War and baseball differs from Ken Burns' work on same, what it was like to assemble the LoC's archive of 9/11 photography and pictures, the process of learning how to see images critically, the tragic story of Arthur Szyk, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 167 - John HollMay 9, 2016 40:54
John Holl joins the show to talk about his new book, Dishing Up New Jersey: 150 Recipes from the Garden State (with photos by my wife)! We also get into his work as editor of All About Beer, becoming a journalist at 16, traveling to Cuba, all the weird ingredients that craft beers incorporate, why he thinks NJ is the best dining state in the country, and more! Recorded at Carton Brewing Co.
Episode 166 - Ben ModelMay 3, 2016 01:33:56
BenModel joins the show to talk about his career as a silent-filmaccompanist. It's a fascinating conversation about music, audience,cinema, mentorship, technology, crowdsourcing, the permission to laugh, thefleetingness of reputation, the reasons we make art, and why littlekids lose their minds over the Stan Laurel short Oranges andLemons. More info at our site • Support The VirtualMemories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 165 - Fred Kaplan w/#NJPoet's CornerApr 25, 2016 01:36:40
Fred Kaplan rejoins the show to talk about his new book, Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War (Simon & Schuster). (We last talked in 2013). We get into the tangled, wild-west story of how cyber warfare is waged, where it might go in future, and why it's the ultimate asymmetric warfare. Then Charles Bivona joins us for a monthly installment of #NJPoet's Corner, where we focus on his dream course: Batman Studies. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 164 - Kliph Nesteroff (& Liz Hand)Apr 18, 2016 01:48:57
Kliph Nesteroff joins the show to talk about his new book, The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels, and the History of American Comedy (Grove Press). We discuss the evolution of comedy over the century (from vaudeville to comedy podcasters), the twin themes of struggle and influence, the connect-the-dots game of comedic lineage, the stories that didn't make it into the book, comedy's role in the civil rights struggle, Kliph's autodidactic background and how it shapes his pursuit of history, the story of how he got kicked out of high school, and more! Plus, Liz Hand calls in to talk about the publication of her new Cass Neary novel, Hard Light! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show on Patreon or Paypal
Episode 163 - David LeopoldApr 12, 2016 01:35:59
David Leopold, author of The Hirschfeld Century: Portrait of an Artist and His Age (Knopf), joins the show to talk about his work with the great artist Al Hirschfeld, running the Ben Solowey Studio, curating museum exhibitions, following The Grateful Dead, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 162 - Phoebe GloecknerApr 4, 2016 01:21:07
Phoebe Gloeckner, the author of The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures joins the podcast on way too little sleep to talk about transgressing borders: national borders, panel borders, and familial borders. We talk about Diary's hybrid structure and why it would have been unpitchable to a publisher (luckily, she had a two-book contract), the tightrope of portraying a 15-year-old girl's affair with her mother's 30-something boyfriend without making her strictly a victim or "asking for it", and some audiences' obsession with "the facts" of the book. We also get into her ongoing, decade-long multi-media project to recreate the life of a murder victim in Juarez, Mexico, her place in the comics scene (too young for the undergrounds, too old for the alternatives), her unrepeatable approach to making art, her crazy evening with Matt Groening, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 161 - Dan Perkins/Tom Tomorrow & #NJPoet's CornerMar 28, 2016 01:17:26
Dan Perkins (aka Tom Tomorrow) celebrates the publication of 25 Years of Tomorrow with The Virtual Memories Show at his book launch party at Mark Twain House! We follow up our July 2015 conversation with a fun on-stage interview, plus Q&A with Dan's fans. Then we launch #NJPoet's Corner, a monthly feature with philosopher-historian-zen-monk-poet Charles Bivona! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 160 - Bob Stein & Ashton ApplewhiteMar 22, 2016 01:09:45
Digital media visionary Bob Stein joins the show to talk about the future of media creation and consumption, the synthesis of Marx & McLuhan, his hopes for VR, and more! Then Ashton Applewhite discusses the publication of her new book, This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism! We talk about the pervasiveness of ageism, delusional expectations, what she learned from dyeing her hair gray, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 159 - Burton PikeMar 14, 2016 01:34:23
"When you translate, you are digging into not so much the psyche of the author but the psyche of the author's use of language." Translator and emeritus literature professor Burton Pike joins the show to talk about the musicality and rhythm of language, the experience of translating early Proust, whether national literature departments are an outdated concept, the peculiarities of various Swiss ethnicities, how his dream project -- Musil's The Man Without Qualities -- fell into his lap, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 158 - Glenn HeadMar 8, 2016 01:21:57
In his new comix memoir, Chicago (Fantagraphics), Glenn Head follows Orwell's maxim, "Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful." We talk about how he approached his first long-form comic after decades in the field, what prompted him to chronicle his mid-'70s self, the allure of the Undergrounds, how his next work may mirror another bit of Orwelliana, and why it's always good to delate your heroes. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 157 - Dan CafaroMar 1, 2016 01:04:00
Dan Cafaro, publisher of Atticus Books and the Atticus Review Online, joins the show to talk about indy publishing, building a writers' community, the diversity challenge, and more! Recorded at Short Stories Community Book Hub. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show at Patreon or Paypal
Episode 156 - Ross BenjaminFeb 23, 2016 01:12:45
Translator Ross Benjamin joins the show to talk about curating Festival Neue Literatur 2016, which is being held Feb. 25-28, 2016! Along the way, we talk about German humor, translating Kafka's diaries, why he'd love to learn Yiddish, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show at Patreon or Paypal
Episode 155 - Christopher KloebleFeb 16, 2016 01:19:26
Christopher Kloeble joins the show to talk about his first US publication, Almost Everything Very Fast (Graywolf Press)! We discuss the perils of translation, German sense of humor, becoming a Person of Indian Origin, the peculiarities of Bavarian pride, and transcending the limits of empathy in prose! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show at Patreon or Paypal
Episode 154 - Kriota WillbergFeb 9, 2016 01:11:39
Kriota Willberg joins the show to talk about her work teaching anatomy, pathology, drawing, and massage, and how she keeps cartoonists from suffering work-related injuries (or art-related injuries, I suppose) through her minicomics and exercise programs. We also talk about the challenges of delivering pathology gags, making needlepoint of medical images, becoming a dancer and becoming an ex-dancer, learning not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, growing up nerd in central Washington, and why it's not good to tell jokes when you're in the middle of surgery. BONUS: Paul Di Filippo chimes in on his new Kickstarter project, The Black Mill! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show at Patreon or Paypal
Episode 153 - Rachel HadasFeb 2, 2016 01:12:45
Poet Rachel Hadas returns to the show to talk about her new books, Talking To The Dead, and Questions in the Vestibule. It's been two years since we talked, so I had loads of questions for her. How did she rediscover love after losing her husband to early onset dementia? Why is translation like her Sudoku? How did she wind up pals with James Merrill (and what's her take on his Ouija poems)? What do we lose and gain in the act of translation? And how did she become a love poet after spending her career writing elegies? Listen in for a great conversation! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show at Patreon or Paypal
Episode 152 - Carol TylerJan 26, 2016 01:33:42
Carol Tyler spent 10 years making Soldier's Heart: The Campaign to Understand My WWII Veteran Father: A Daughter's Memoir (Fantagraphics). We sat down at her home in Cincinnati to talk about her perspective on the book now that it's in her rear-view mirror. We also talk about the glass ceiling for female cartoonists, what it means to be a parent first and cartoonist second, how her dad's PTSD affected so much of her life, how she drew the last part of Soldier's Heart in hospital rooms, going on food stamps in the midst of this project, her struggle to retain her hippie-ish enthusiasm during a period of heavy loss (4 family members and 3 close friends in 4 years), and how she broke into a frat-house to steal post-party empties for recycling. It's a fun, deep conversation with a master cartoonist (even when it borders on Gil-as-therapist)! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show at Patreon
Episode 151 - Harold BloomJan 19, 2016 01:02:52
The great literary critic and professor Harold Bloom joins the show to talk about his new book, The Daemon Knows, and how it captures his lifetime of reading, teaching and writing. We talk about his long struggle with T.S. Eliot, how he wants to be remembered (and whether he he thinks he will be remembered), the best novel he's ever read, his battles against the School of Resentment, the writers he's re-evaluated in his later years, what he's learned from 61 years of teaching at Yale, what it's like to spend a life in books, and more! There may not be another episode that better epitomizes "a podcast about books and life -- not necessarily in that order".
Episode 150 - Molly CrabappleJan 11, 2016 56:15
Artist Molly Crabapple joins the show to talk about writing her new memoir, Drawing Blood (Harper), making illustrated journalism from Syria, Guantanamo and Abu Dhabi, growing into her parents' legacy of art, Marxism and argumentation, finding her soul in the Damascus Room at the Met, balancing community and competition, stepping back from the idea that we're in an "Age of Outrage" and more!
Episode 149 - Keith KnightJan 5, 2016 01:21:41
Gentleman cartoonist Keith Knight joins the show to talk about comics, race, how he would fix the Star Wars prequels, his career as a Michael Jackson impersonator, the literature course that made him a political artist, giving campus lectures on race relations, the importance of crowdfunding, the reasons he sticks with a daily comic strip, why you never see black people on Antiques Roadshow, the songs that will turn any party out (excluding tracks by MJ and Prince) and the case for Off The Wall over Thriller, whether it's an honor or a disgrace to be the first non-white guest on this podcast in two years, and more! Plus, I launch a Patreon for the Virtual Memories Show!
Episode 148 - The Guest List 2015Dec 29, 2015 01:03:42
More than 30 of the year's Virtual Memories Show guests tell us about the favorite books they read in 2015 and the books they hope to get to in 2016! Guests include Derf Backderf, Anthea Bell, John Clute, Michael Dirda, Matt Farber, Jonathan Galassi, Brad Gooch, Langdon Hammer, Liz Hand, Jennifer Hayden, Ron Hogan, Dylan Horrocks, David Jaher, Kathe Koja, Jonathan Kranz, Peter Kuper, Lorenzo Mattotti, JD McClatchy, Scott McCloud, Michael Meyer, Dan Perkins (a.k.a Tom Tomorrow), Summer Pierre, Witold Rybczynski, Dmitry Samarov, Elizabeth Samet, Liesl Schillinger, Posy Simmonds, Levi Stahl, Rupert Thomson, Irvine Welsh, Warren Woodfin, Jim Woodring, Claudia Young, and me, Gil Roth! Check out their selections at our site!
Episode 147 - Peter KuperDec 14, 2015 01:34:33
Alt-comix lifer Peter Kuper joins the show to talk about his new graphic novel, RUINS (Self-Made Hero), co-creating World War 3 Illustrated, teaching at Harvard, trying to fight climate change, building your own artistic scene, being one of the only people who followed through on the "if Bush/Cheney are re-elected, I'm leaving America" pledge, and more!
Episode 146 - David JaherDec 6, 2015 01:19:44
David Jaher joins the show to talk about his amazing new book, The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World (Crown). It's a great conversation about Spiritualism, the Jazz Age, fame, the need to believe in an afterlife, the benefits of astrology, and of course, HOUDINI!
Episode 145 - Kathe Koja and John CluteDec 1, 2015 01:37:45
Novelist and immersive theater director Kathe Koja joins the show to talk about her new novel, The Bastards' Paradise, the arc of her career from splatterpunk (hey, it was the '90s) to YA to the 19th C. romance of her Poppy trilogy, the meaning of Detroit, her life-changing experience at a staging of Sleep No More, the joys (and perils) of defying genre conventions, and more! Then John Clute returns to the show to talk about establishing the Clute Science Fiction Library @ Telluride! Also, he uses the word "haecceity" in conversation, which is a Virtual Memories first!
Episode 144 - Posy SimmondsNov 25, 2015 01:18:31
UK cartooning legend Posy Simmonds, MBE (Gemma Bovery, Tamara Drewe) joins the show to talk about her career, discovering her long-form voice, being a "literary" cartoonist, being raised on American comics and Americana in postwar Britain, why her characters occasionally get trampled by livestock, what the French word is for comics with too many word balloons, and more!
Episode 143 - Jennifer Hayden and Summer PierreNov 17, 2015 01:16:58
Graphic Lives! Jennifer Hayden (The Story of My Tits) and Summer Pierre (Paper Pencil Life) join us for a live episode of the The Virtual Memories Show, recorded at Labyrinth Books in Princeton, NJ! We talk about comics, cancer, middle age, art vs. work, learning compassion through memoir, and more!
Episode 142 - Rupert ThomsonNov 10, 2015 01:26:27
Rupert Thomson returns to the show to talk about his new novel, Katherine Carlyle (Other Press, 2015). We also discuss IVF babies, researching "in character", keeping the reader's interest in a "road movie" novel, prioritizing imaginary facts above real facts, his pros & cons list for becoming a parent, the challenge of writing a novel about a father's fear for his child's safety, the long and short answer of "Where do you get your ideas?", how he got James Salter to blurb his new book, and more!
Episode 141 - Francoise MoulyNov 3, 2015 01:01:10
Designer, editor and publisher Francoise Mouly joins the show to talk about 20+ years of New Yorker covers, launching TOON Books and cultivating a love for print, the pros and cons of going viral, the changing definitions of what's offensive (and the time she got hauled into a meeting with an Arab Anti-Defamation League), the notion that comics are the gateway drug for reading, and more! (Sorry, no talk about her time with RAW magazine, since she and her husband, Art Spiegelman were interviewed about that later at the festival.) This episode is part of our Cartoon Crossroads Columbus series of live podcasts.
Episode 140 - Dylan HorrocksOct 26, 2015 01:01:43
Dylan Horrocks, the cartoonist behind Hicksville (Drawn and Quarterly) and Sam Zabel And The Magic Pen (Fantagraphics), comes from New Zealand to join the show to talk about his fear of comics, our responsibility for our fantasies, the way he built a fruitful career around creative block, the influence of Maori culture on white New Zealanders' perspectives, the way his backup stories keep becoming his major projects, his take on the Charlie Hebdo massacre and how it ties into his experience with the fatwa on Salman Rushdie, the idea that America is a story we tell ourselves, and more! Part of our Cartoon Crossroads Columbus series of live podcasts.
Episode 139 - Derf BackderfOct 20, 2015 01:05:36
Derf Backderf made a mid-career course correction, going from alt-weekly cartoons to full-length graphic novels like My Friend Dahmer and his new book Trashed (Abrams Comicarts). He joins us as part of the CXC festival to talk about that transition, how he became political years after being a political cartoonist, the impact of Ohio's rustbelt disintegration on his worldview, and the surprise of his success in Europe. How do you go from garbageman to winner of the Angouleme prize? Find out from Derf Backderf in this week's Virtual Memories Show!
Episode 138 - Bill GriffithOct 11, 2015 02:02:31
Bill Griffith is best known for nearly 30 years of daily comic strips featuring the absurd, surreal American treasure known as Zippy the Pinhead, but he's also the author of the amazing new graphic memoir, Invisible Ink: My Mother's Love Affair With A Famous Cartoonist (Fantagraphics). This episode features a 2-part conversation about his new book, his history in underground comics, the birth of Zippy, and more! Part of our
Episode 137 - Scott McCloudOct 6, 2015 01:36:51
Is Scott McCloud comics' leading theorist or a deranged lunatic? Find out in this lengthy conversation we recorded during SPX 2015! Scott talks about applying (and forgetting) the lessons of Understanding Comics in his new book, The Sculptor (First Second), the massive implications of crowdfunding for cartoonists and other creators, the problems with 'balance' in comics pages, his rebellion against Facebook, the Laurie Anderson model of comics, how he defines success, how to keep a happy marriage inside the comics world, and more!
Episode 136 - J.D. McClatchySep 28, 2015 01:17:47
The great poet, critic, librettist and bon vivant J.D. McClatchy joins the show to talk about outliving his idols, adapting my favorite novel to opera, having his life changed by Harold Bloom, collecting letters from the likes of Proust and Housman, and marrying Chip Kidd! We also get into his friendship with James Merrill, pop culture's triumph over high culture, his genetic inability to read comics, why he loathed Ezra Pound as a person and as an artist, how sexual politics has replaced social politics, the experience of teaching the first gay literature course at Yale in 1978 (and getting dropped because of it), and how a serious poet writes for the dead, not the living.
Episode 135 - Irvine Welsh / Dmitry SamarovSep 22, 2015 01:44:01
Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh joins the show to talk about writing, choosing Chicago over LA & NYC, his fascination with boxing, the art world, and the White Sox, the narcissism of online living, the critique of global capitalism, the phases of life he enjoys writing about, and how he used to sneak into the library when his schoolmates weren't looking. Then writer/artist Dmitry Samarov rejoins the show to talk about the joys of getting off the social network treadmill.
Episode 134 - Angel, Lion, Ox, EagleSep 15, 2015 01:27:13
Warren Woodfin joins the show to talk about guest-curating Liturgical Textiles of the Post-Byzantine World at the Met (runs through Nov. 1, 2015). We also find out how he became a medieval art historian, the perils of archeolgoical digs in post-Soviet Ukraine, the bum rap art history gets from STEM proponents, and more!
Episode 133 - What If We Give It Away?Sep 8, 2015 01:16:11
Stona Fitch joins the show to talk about his careers as a novelist, a publisher, and a freelance writer, the benefits of corporate hackwork, his decision to use the pen name Rory Flynn for his new novel, Third Rail, what led him to write one of the most disturbing novels ever, the value of giving something beautiful away, and more!
Episode 132 - Rootless PeopleAug 31, 2015 01:21:36
Christopher Bollen, author of the new novel Orient (Harper, 2015), talks about the difference between a murder mystery and a literary thriller, the perils of Male First Novel Syndrome, how he discovered the very end of the North Fork of Long Island, why it's too easy to write a parody of the contemporary art world, how his years at Inteview magazine honed his ear for dialogue, and more! (Also, you get my story about inadvertently blowing up a shopping mall when I was in high school.)
Episode 131 - Ever AfterAug 25, 2015 01:15:37
John Clute, author, critic, and science fiction encyclopedist, joins the show at Readercon 2015 to talk about aftermath culture, SF's ghettoization, the triumph of Ishiguro's The Buried Giant, the failure of moats, and why late-period Bob Dylan is radically more interesting than the early model.
Episode 130 - The Cult of Experience and the Tyranny of RelevanceAug 18, 2015 01:30:47
Elizabeth Samet, professor of English at West Point and author of Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point and No Man's Land: Preparing for War and Peace in Post-9/11 America (and editor of the newly published Leadership: Essential Writings by Our Greatest Thinkers), joins the show to talk about teaching the humanities in the military, why she balked at learning the fine art of parachuting, how she tried (and failed) to convince Robert Fagles that Hector is the moral center of the Iliad, and a whole lot more! Bonus: I tell a long, awful and emotional story around the 75-minute mark. NOTE: The opinions Elizabeth Samet expresses in this interview are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of West Point, the Department of the Army, or the Department of Defense.
Episode 129 - Donkey SkinAug 11, 2015 53:17
Episode 128 - Impecunious NoblesAug 4, 2015 01:12:13
"I remain certain that there is no one else who has had this sort of aesthetic influence." So says Rhonda K. Garelick, author of Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History. We talk about Chanel's impact on women's fashion and French national identity, how she managed not to get tried for collaboration after the war, the one figure from our age who compares to Chanel, and what it's like teaching the accordion-and-beret crowd.
Episode 127 - The Meandering Reflections of a Literary SybariteJul 28, 2015 01:09:37
Pulitzer Prize-winning book reviewer Michael Dirda rejoins the show to talk about his new collection, Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books (Pegasus Books). We discuss the importance of reading for pleasure, the difference between book-collecting and shopping, the role of the book reviewer (and how it differs from that of the critic), a recent negative review he didn't want to write, why he doesn't read reviews of his work, what his mother said when he won the Pulitzer Prize, and more!
Episode 126 - People From AwayJul 21, 2015 01:15:11
Award-winning author Elizabeth Hand joins the Virtual Memories Show to talk about her latest novel, Wylding Hall. We also talk about her need to try different genres, getting pigeonholed by the literary establishment, how abandoning the supernatural for her noir novels was like working without a net, how her success at writing may be attributable to the Helsinki Bus Syndrome, what it was like to be at the punk scene in the mid-'70s, how she learned to strip down her prose for her recent (and excellent) noir crime novels, just how she ended up in coastal Maine, and more!
Episode 125 - Signal BoostJul 14, 2015 01:00:00
Dan Perkins (a.k.a. Tom Tomorrow) joins the Virtual Memories Show to talk about 25 years of making This Modern World, his new Kickstarter that annihilated all expectations and left him a gibbering (but very thankful) wreck, the lessons he learned from Charles Schulz, what it'll take for him to get a tattoo of Sparky the Penguin, and more!
Episode 124 - Don't FallJul 7, 2015 01:11:58
Jonathan David Kranz joins the show to talk about his new novel, Our Brothers at the Bottom of the Bottom of the Sea (Henry Holt). We talk about what makes the Jersey Shore different from any other seaside amusement region, what he learned while writing for the YA category, the value of Grub Street writing courses vs. an MFA, why Tillie is a Jungian archetype, and more!
Episode 123 - The Hidden Wish of WordsJun 30, 2015 01:19:31
Professor Langdon Hammer joins the show to talk about his monumental new biography, James Merrill: Life and Art (Knopf). We discuss Merrill's significance as a poet and the alchemy that allowed him to turn base wealth into artistic gold. Hammer also talks about learning the art of literary biography on the fly, the challenge of recreating Merrill's life in Greece, how we can understand the Ouija board-derived poems of Merrill's masterwork, and more!
Episode 122 - A Muse ApartJun 16, 2015 49:58
Farrar Straus Giroux president Jonathan Galassi has spent a lifetime in the literary publishing world, but now he gets to experience it all over again as a debut novelist! We talk about Muse (Knopf), how he had to short-circuit his editorial style in order to write what he thinks of the future (and past) of publishing, and more!
Episode 121 - The Limits of LoveJun 9, 2015 39:10
British author Christie Watson joins the Virtual Memories Show to talk about her newest novel, Where Women Are Kings. We discuss the process of adoption, her history with Nigeria (and why she loves its literary scene), the trick of balancing cultural differences and societal norms, and how she became a writer after years of planning her book tour outfits.
Episode 120 - Laboratory of ImaginationJun 2, 2015 01:10:28
The great Lorenzo Mattotti joins the Virtual Memories Show to talk about art, comics, fashion, and the trees of Patagonia. It's a fascinating conversation about how a master of artistic manners has learned the joy of improvisation, why he likes working with writers, how he got started in fashion illustration, and what his parents made of his decision to become an artist.
Episode 119 - Paid In FullMay 19, 2015 56:01
Episode 118 - Table TalkMay 13, 2015 01:21:07
It's VMS Live! This episode comes from the panel, "Satirical Representations of Hitler in Contemporary Culture," held May 6, 2015 at the Goethe-Institut in NYC, in conjunction with the German Book Office! Panelists were Gavriel Rosenfeld, Liesl Schillinger and Timur Vermes, author of Look Who's Back, a satiric novel in which Hitler finds himself alive in 2011 Berlin. Listen to find out when it's okay to make fun of Hitler, the peril of laughing too much at him, and what the author learned in the process of writing in AH's voice! Photo credit © Goethe-Institut New York / Jacobia Dahm
Episode 117 - VernissageMay 5, 2015 01:00:05
Artist Jonah Kinigstein is having his moment... at 92! His venomous editorial cartoons have been collected in a new book, The Emperor's New Clothes, and gained him an exhibition at the Society of Illustrators. We talk about where modern art went wrong, what he learned in his Paris years, what drives him to keep painting in his 10th decade, and more!
Episode 116 - Magic CityApr 28, 2015 01:00:35
Thane Rosenbaum makes his second appearance on the show to talk about his new novel, How Sweet It Is! (Mandel Vilar Press), as well as his family history in '70s Miami, his path to becoming a novelist and human rights lawyer, the relative lunacy of First and Second Amendment absolutists, the allure of print, growing up in a city without a bookstore, and the fate of European Jewry.
Episode 115 - Idlers and BelgiansApr 20, 2015 01:09:30
Professor Edward Mendelson joins the show to talk about his new memoir, Moral Agents: Eight Twentieth-Century American Writers (New York Review Books), which profiles Lionel Triling, Dwight Macdonald, Alfred Kazin, William Maxwell, Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, WH Auden, Frank O'Hara. We discuss the role of individuals in mass culture, the intellectual's temptation to be a leader, the outdated figure of the Beloved Professor, Orwell's misinterpretation of Auden, the writer he was terrified to meet, the failures of identity politics, the purpose of Columbia University's Core Curriculum, his lack of nostalgia for the era of public intellectuals, the way certain books need a year off from teaching in order to recharge, and more.
Episode 114 - Roller CoasterApr 14, 2015 01:06:42
Episode 113 - PalimpsestApr 7, 2015 01:16:27
When he was a kid in Minnesota, Michael Meyer papered his walls with National Geographic maps. A Peace Corps stint in 1995 began his 20-year odyssey in China, yielding two books, true love, and a unique perspective on the world's most populous country. We talk about his latest book, In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China, life in rural China compared to suburban MN, the country's changes in the past two decades, the flexibility of the Communist party, China's uses and abuses of history, the tortured history of the Manchuria region, the need to explode Americans' myths about the country and its people, our favorite jet-lag remedies, the Chinese use of "uh" as a conversational placeholder, and more!
Episode 112 - RemainderMar 29, 2015 01:36:12
The great poet, essayist, novelist, memoirist and TV host Clive James joins the show to talk about poetry, mortality, TV, Cultural Amnesia, Australia, his literary legacy and how his showbiz career helped and hurt it, and a lot more.
Episode 111 - Time, Memory, Friendship, Poetry, ArtMar 24, 2015 01:02:51
Prue Shaw joins the show to talk about Reading Dante: From Here to Eternity. We talk about our favorite parts of the Dante's Commedia, the poem's transformation for her over the decades, Dante's challenge of expressing the inexpressible (especially in Paradiso), the fate of Jews in Dante's afterworld, and the reasons why we all -- poets and non-poets, believers and non-believers -- should be reading Dante.
Episode 110 - Thru' These Architects' EyesMar 17, 2015 01:22:12
Witold Rybczynski discusses his newest book, How Architecture Works: A Humanist's Toolkit, and talks about that humanist approach to buildings, the problems with Brutalist architecture, the importance of having a canon of great buildings, the ways that digital technology are changing the practice of architecture, why there's no such thing as a 'theory of architecture', the reasons Philadelphia has such marvelous buildings, what it means to 'review' a building, why the 'Starchitect' phenomenon doesn't make for better buildings, and whether it's possible to improve the appearance of malls
Episode 109 - The Confidence ManMar 10, 2015 01:16:43
Walter Kirn joins the show to talk about his latest book, Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade, all about his relationship to fraudster/murderer Clark Rockefeller. And then it gets complicated.
Episode 108 - From Asterix to ZweigMar 3, 2015 01:14:31
Renowned literary translator Anthea Bell joins the show to talk about getting her start in foreign languages, the schisms in the world of literary translation, the most challenging authors she's worked on, the one language she'd love to learn, and translating everything from Asterix to Zweig!
Episode 107 - Silence in TranslationFeb 18, 2015 50:22
Playwright and author Yasmina Reza joins the show to talk about her new book, Happy are the Happy (Other Press). We also discuss the confluence and divergence of love and happiness, her surprise when her play Art was produced in Iran and Afghanistan, the appeal of Sarkozy as a literary character, her love of The Wire, and why she let James Gandolfini transpose The God of Carnage from Paris to Brooklyn.
Episode 106 - The Magic CircleFeb 11, 2015 01:22:53
Educator Matt Farber joins the show to talk about his new book, Gamify Your Classroom: A Field Guide to Game-Based Learning (Peter Lang Academic). We talk about edutainment's bad rep, developing good games for students, getting getting buy-in from faculty, administration and -- most importantly -- students, the subjects that benefit most from game-based learning, why Pandemic is the best game he's ever used to teach, and more!
Episode 105 - Sincere ObservationFeb 5, 2015 01:10:59
Artist Mimi Gross joins the show to talk about her art, her life, and the joys of collaboration. How did she carve out an identity separate from "daughter of sculptor Chaim Gross" and "wife of artist Red Grooms"? Listen to the conversation to find out!
Episode 104 - It Came From Gen X!Jan 29, 2015 01:46:58
Editor, book-blogger and podcaster Ron Hogan joins the show to talk about his 20-year history with the literary intenet, launching Beatrice.com, taking the wrong lessons from the work of Harlan Ellison, defending Hudson Hawk, retaining his inner fanboy, discovering romance fiction, overcoming gender/race imbalances in publishing (and podcasting), and generally trying to overthrow the hegemony. But first, Josh Alan Friedman reminisces about Joe Franklin!
Episode 103 - Nostalgia of the InfiniteJan 20, 2015 01:05:30
The great cartoonist Jim Woodring joins the show to talk about comics, surrealism, Vedanta, the principle of fluorescence, and why he may be the reincarnation of Herbert E. Crowley! While he was in town for his first solo gallery show, Jim and I met up to talk about his conception of the universe, how his FRANK comics have and haven't evolved in 20+ years, how art can convey the existence of something it can't show, why it's easier to express the grotesque than the beautiful, why younger cartoonists may be lacking the bitter, competitive drive of past generations, and why I think the Prado is a second-rate museum!
Episode 102 - The SprinterJan 13, 2015 01:01:21
Bon vivant Claudia Young joins The Virtual Memories Show to talk about fine dining, songwriting, the Flora-Bama, getting around Vietnam in a wheelchair, and making the most of the time we have.
Episode 101 - Simple Tricks and NonsenseJan 6, 2015 01:02:45
Let's kick off 2015 wtih a conversation with Levi Stahl, editor of The Getaway Car: A Donald Westlake Nonfiction Miscellany!
Episode 100 - The Hollow ManDec 30, 2014 02:26:56
Let's celebrate the 100th episode of The Virtual Memories Show with the most boring guest ever: your host, Gil Roth! (with questions from dozens of past and upcoming guests!)
Season 4, Episode 48 - The Guest List 2014Dec 17, 2014 51:32
More than 30 of this year's podcast guests tell us about the favorite books they read in 2014! Guests include Maria Alexander, Ashton Applewhite, David Baerwald, Nina Bunjevac, Roz Chast, Sarah Deming, Michael Dirda, Jules Feiffer, Mark Feltskog, Mary Fleener, Nathan Fox, Josh Alan Friedman, Richard Gehr, Paul Gravett, Sam Gross, Rachel Hadas, Kaz, Daniel Levine, Sara Lippmann, Merrill Markoe, Brett Martin, Mimi Pond, George Prochnik, Emily Raboteau, Jonathan Rose, Ron Rosenbaum, Dmitry Samarov, Seth, Katie Skelly, Ron Slate, Maya Stein, Rupert Thomson, and Frank Wilson! Check out the list of books at our site!
Season 4, Episode 47 - Creativity on DemandDec 9, 2014 01:13:01
From Rahway to Hollywood, by way of Underworld! Kaz joins the show to talk about his career(s) as a cartoonist, animator and artist. We talk about how he fell in love with the collaborative aspect of animation (and how the Spongebob Squarepants sausage gets made), how the world caught up to the outrageous depravity of his Underworld comic strip, how Art Spiegelman taught him to be an artistic magpie, how it felt to show his parents his work in an issue of Al Goldstein's Screw, how he learned to make a story turn funny, and what it's like to supply creativity on demand!
Season 4, Episode 46 - Success is EmbarrassingDec 3, 2014 01:19:18
Artist Wayne White joins the show to talk about how his life and art have changed since he starred in the documentary Beauty is Embarrassing (which, if you haven't seen it, go do so now now NOW!). We talk about the allure and absurdity of hubris, how much of the movie-Wayne maps onto the real version, how LA influenced his word-paintings, how he balances art and commerce, what happens to the giant puppets that he makes for installations, what he thinks of Jeff Koons, why he's moving toward art-as-public-spectacle, what art form he's dying to get back to, what his next big project is, and when he's gonna get rid of that beard! Also, Mimi Pond returns to talk about the success of Over Easy, the surprises of the book tour, how the sequel's progressing, how it felt to win a PEN Center USA Literary Award, and more!
Season 4, Episode 45 - Our Lady of Organized VituperationNov 25, 2014 01:23:48
Mucho Cubismo! Mary Fleener joins the show to talk about her career in cartooning, her love/hate relationship with LA (mostly hate now, but there was a little love in the early days), the Zora Neale Hurston story that made a cartoonist out of her, the tale of how Matt Groening accidentally derailed her career, the roots of her Cubismo drawing style, the joys of simplifying her life, the new book she's working on, the horrors of The Comics Journal's message board, and more!
Season 4, Episode 44 - Slow LearnerNov 18, 2014 58:08
The legendary Jules Feiffer joins the show to talk about his new comic noir, Kill My Mother, as well as the preceding 60+ years of his career as a cartoonist, satirist, Obie Award-winning playwright, screenwriter, children's book author, and memoirist.
Season 4, Episode 43 - The Way of Pen and SwordNov 12, 2014 55:52
Also: what happens when Lovecraftian pastiche goes wrong • how she realized that even geniuses have to write drafts • how Mr. Wicker made its way from short story to screenplay to first novel • how she deals with severe carpal tunnel syndrome!
Season 4, Episode 42 - I Was a Teenage StructuralistNov 3, 2014 54:17
Richard Gehr's new book, I Only Read It for the Cartoons: The New Yorker's Most Brilliantly Twisted Artists, profiles a dozen of the great cartoonists at The New Yorker. We talk about his lifelong love for the magazine, making a career out of his weird enthusiasms, being in the Boy Scouts with Matt Groening, discovering Bob Mankoff's Database of Humor and the evil experiment of The Caption Contest, and the all-time best "celebrity I plotzed over" story in the history of this podcast!
Season 4, Episode 41 - Look DayOct 28, 2014 01:11:59
Sam Gross' gag panels warped me at a young age, so it was an honor to get him on mic to talk about his nearly six-decade cartooning career. We sat down in his studio to discuss the serious business of gags, how he went from drawing a Saul Steinberg nose to drawing a Sam Gross one, how he continues in his 80s to come up with a week's worth of new gags for Look Day, how he once got a Vanishing New York tour from Charles Addams, how he revels in the "humor of the handicapped", and the magazine he misses the most.
Season 4, Episode 40 - Much AbidesOct 21, 2014 01:00:20
Ashton Applewhite is on a crusade against ageism. She joins the show to discuss the myths and roots of ageism and her talk series, This Chair Rocks. We also discuss her Yo Is This Ageist site, why she scoffs at the Life Extension crew, how her critique of ageism intertwines with her critique of capitalism, what it’s like to suffer from analexophobia, why we should all consider ourselves old people in training, and how she launched the Truly Tasteless Jokes empire.
Season 4, Episode 39 - 35 Cents & a StampOct 14, 2014 01:21:46
John Porcellino has been publishing his King-Cat Comics & Stories mini-comics for 25 years, but I managed not to check them out until last month. BIG mistake on my part! Turns out the critics were right; John P.'s one of the best autobio cartoonists out there, as well as "a master at miniature poignance" (Entertainment Weekly). We sat down at SPX 2014 to talk about publishing his new work, The Hospital Suite, as a standalone book and developing the skill and courage to tackle longer stories, his disdain for "the culture of like", overcoming the shame and stigma of his OCD, the process of discovering an audience for his work, the pitfalls of autobiographical comics, discovering the power of negative space, turning his life into a narrative, how comics enabled him to communicate with people, and, most importantly, being an NFL bigamist. Bonus: Roger Langridge gives us a few minutes at SPX to talk about his new book, Jim Henson's The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow!"I managed to go 43 issues before I hit the paralyzing grip of self-doubt and self-consciousness [from realizing that I had an audience]. I feel lucky that I had all those years to write comics in essentially a vacuum. I can't imagine what it would be like to be 20 years old and trying to write comics in this world with the internet's immediate response."
Season 4, Episode 38 - A Sense of Someplace To GoOct 7, 2014 01:10:23
This podcast often hangs out at the intersection of art and commerce, so I was happy when Dmitry Samarov drove up in a cab with his sketchbook!* Dmitry recently published Where To?: A Hack Memoir (Curbside Splendor Press), his second book of essays and art about his experiences behind the wheel of a taxi in Chicago and Boston. We talk about the job's intersection with his fine arts background, his compulsion to chronicle his working life in words and images, how he made the transition from 'zine to blog to book deal, how John Hodgman helped him get his break into publishing, what it's like to run a website built in 2004, why he fled Parsons School of Design after one semester, and how it felt to leave the cab-driving world behind."The great [storytelling] advantage to driving a cab is that you have the back of your head to the person. It makes them open up in a way that, if they saw my face, I don't think they could have. Then they would have had to reckon with me as a person, and I really wasn't a person to most of them."
Season 4, Episode 37 - May God RememberSep 30, 2014 01:13:32
During the middle of the High Holidays, two Jews sit down in Manhattan to talk about antisemitism! Daniel Goldhagen joins the show to talk about his newest book, The Devil That Never Dies: The Rise and Threat of Global Antisemitism. We discuss the public expression of antisemitism and why it's permitted in so many regions (and why it's not in America), how it's progressed through medieval, modern and global phases, how Jews have been able to survive millennia of ill-treatment, why "eliminationism" is a better term than "genocide", and how a guy who writes books on topics like this manages to stay upbeat.
Season 4, Episode 36 - Time's BombSep 23, 2014 57:21
Description:"Fatherland is really about who my father was, getting to understand him, and also an attempt to explain how politics can tear a family apart, just like they tore apart the people of Yugoslavia in the 1990s."
Nina Bunjevac's new book, Fatherland, explores her family's fractured history against the backdrop of 20th century Yugoslavia. We talk about how she left her country in 1990 only to find that it wasn't there when she went back. We also explore the risks and challenges of researching a terrorist organization, the comics tradition in Yugoslavia, Serbia's culture of friendship, why the Toronto Comic Arts Festival is the best comics event in North America, the perils of too much stippling, the controversy of publishing Fatherland in Serbian dialect in Croatia, and more.
Season 4, Episode 35 - Jewish Gothic and the Restless ArtistSep 16, 2014 01:06:31
Come for the Friedman, stay for the Lippmann! Or vice versa! This week's podcast features two great conversations: first I talk with Drew Friedman at Small Press Expo '14 about his great new book of portraits, Heroes Of The Comics: Portraits Of The Pioneering Legends Of Comic Books (Fantagraphics), then Sara Lippmann and I solve the gender imbalance issue in literature, and the MFA vs. NYC issue, to boot! We talk about her debut short story collection, Doll Palace (Dock Street Press), getting over the fear of writing, how she lost the Rolex account for GQ, and more!
Season 4, Episode 34 - Parental GuidanceSep 9, 2014 59:47
The great Roz Chast talks about cartooning, The New Yorker, Disco the Talking Parakeet, and her fantastic new book, Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir.
Season 4, Episode 33 - The Peace PoetSep 2, 2014 01:09:56
Charles Bivona's business card reads, "Poet, Writer, Professor," but he's a lot more than that. Over the course of an hour, we talked about what it means to be NJPoet, his theory on the transmissibility of PTSD (based on the first-hand evidence of his father's Vietnam War trauma being visited on his family), the value of building a massive Twitter network, the lessons of growing up poor, how Walt Whitman saved him on one of the worst days of his life, the virtues of a gift economy, and why getting bumped out of academia for blogging may have been the best thing for him."I think people are experiencing a lot of things in America that they just don't have the words for. If I'm going to run around and wave this POET flag, then my job is to jump into the difficult situations and try to put them into words."
Season 4, Episode 32 - The War PoetAug 26, 2014 55:34
Jonathan Rose, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of History at Drew University, joins the show to talk about his new book, The Literary Churchill: Author, Reader, Actor (Yale University Press). It's a fascinating work about the books and plays that influenced one of the 20th century's greatest statesmen, drawing connections from Churchill's literary interests to his policy decisions, and helping us understand Churchill as an artist first and foremost.
Season 4, Episode 31 - Critical MassAug 19, 2014 01:17:21
Frank Wilson, book reviewer, columnist and founder of the Books, Inq. blog, completes our August book critics miniseries! Frank talks about 50 years in the book review biz, the similarities of poetry and religion, whether Catholics can write good novels, the perils of using big-name writers as book reviewers, the biggest gap in his literary background, his underrated/overrated ranks, and more!
Season 4, Episode 30 - Bookslut's HolidayAug 12, 2014 01:02:01
Season 4, Episode 29 - Bookman's HolidayAug 5, 2014 53:29
Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic Michael Dirda rejoins the Virtual Memories Show at Readercon 2014 to talk about the time Neil Gaiman tried to explain Twitter to him, his new project on the golden age of storytelling, what he dislikes about the tone of today's book reviewers, and more! [Also, we remastered our original Dirda podcast from 2012, over here!]
Season 4, Episode 28 - Re-Explaining HitlerJul 29, 2014 59:46
Ron Rosenbaum returns to the show to talk about the new edition of his amazing book, Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil (Da Capo Press)! We talk Hitler, the meaning(s) of evil, determinism and free will, Hitler-as-artist vs. Hitler-as-suicide-bomber, "degenerate art," the tendency to blame Jews for their misfortune, and how internet culture has warped the meaning of Hitler in the 16 years since Ron's book was first published.
Season 4, Episode 27 - Buddy Rich's Teeth and the Corruption of RealityJul 22, 2014 01:03:08
Description:"It's said that the sources of writing are mysterious, but the sources of not writing are pathological."
Ron Slate spent more than two decades in the corporate world before returning to poetry and writing The Incentive of the Maggott, an award-winning collection praised by the likes of Robert Pinsky. We talk about his roots in poetry, how those "lost" years weren't so lost, what it's like to be the guy who sees things late, and how his life was forever changed when he saw Buddy Rich's teeth.
Season 4, Episode 26 - Fail BetterJul 15, 2014 01:07:16
Description:"Artistically, LA's a disaster. It's full of amazing stories. But as a city, it's not a city. Nobody but bus-drivers see the whole place."
Singer-songwriter, musician, inventor, dad, reader, and writer David Baerwald joins the show to talk about the ups and downs of his career in the music biz, his crazy family history, the perils of grafting personalities onto up-and-coming musicians, and why he doesn't trust happiness. We also talk about the Watchmen-like trail of destruction that followed Sheryl Crow's breakthrough album, why the drug business is notoriously filled with short-tempered people, how being a script analyst for a movie studio taught him how to write a song, and why he's a firm believer in the notion that to tell a big story, you have to tell a small one.
Season 4, Episode 25 - Dogs of LAJul 8, 2014 01:02:46
Comedy legend Merrill Markoe joins The Virtual Memories Show to prove Christopher Hitchens wrong: women can be very funny! We talk about her career, helping launch Late Night with David Letterman, her opinions on today's late-night TV scene, the show she'd write for if she was starting out in TV now, her literary influences, her favorite cartoonists, and why Curly was the greatest of the Three Stooges!
Season 4, Episode 24 - From Billiards to BachJul 1, 2014 54:08
How does a man go from being a ne'er-do-well in a Pennsylvania mining town to a tutor at St. John's College? Peter Kalkavage joins the show to talk about his path to that Great Books institution, what he's learned in his 38 years as a tutor, how he fell in love with the music program, what he learned from his study of Hegel, what he'd add to the St. John's curriculum, and more! (Also: Iliad or Odyssey?)
Season 4, Episode 23 - Haste Ye BackJun 16, 2014 01:03:13
The great cartoonist (and designer and illustrator) Seth joins the Virtual Memories Show to talk about memory and time, his love of digression, being "Mr. Old-Timey", and learning to let go of the finish and polish that used to characterize his work."When I was young, I thought there were an infinite possibility of stories you could do. As you get older, you realize you're following a thread, and that you don't have as much choice about what you're writing about as you thought."
Season 4, Episode 22 - Wax, RhapsodicJun 10, 2014 51:31
Description:"When I first started out, what I liked was the unlikely image, the unlikely metaphor. What I like now is finding that simple sentence that captures something you haven't thought of before."
Rupert Thomson joins us to talk about his new novel Secrecy (Other Press), a smart thriller set in 1690s Florence. We also talk about how to keep from hitting the reader over the head with research, how to learn archaic Italian curses, and more!"There is a kind of comfort in having a part of yourself that will never be known, can never be known, by others."
Season 4, Episode 21 - Theory and PracticeJun 3, 2014 44:56
Description:"I'm never gonna be a parent, but if I were, I'd be like, 'We're skippin' this Goodnight, Moon thing; you're goin' to Pale Fire.'"
Cartoonist Katie Skelly joins the show to talk about her new book, Operation Margarine (AdHouse Books), which is really just an opportunity for us to talk about Barthes, Edie Sedgwick, and The Maxx, before getting to the moment when she was 15 and read the least "YA"-friendly book ever for all the wrong reasons. Along the way, we also talk about how she manages to work on her comics while holding down a (respectable) full-time job, why she'd rather hunt for a rare comic than buy something new, what it was like to belong to a high school anime club that only had two members. Give it a listen!"6 o'clock hits, it's time to leave the office; what are you going to do with the four or five hours you have before going to sleep?"
Season 4, Episode 20 - Bildung StoriesMay 27, 2014 01:23:11
Description:"Zweig was immersed in the problem of the disjunction between our grand desires for the kind of life we dream we should be living and the actual circumscribed canvas on which we must operate."
At his peak, Viennese author Stefan Zweig was one of the most widely read authors in the world. How did he and his wife end up a in a double-suicide in a bungalow in Petropolis, Brazil? George Prochnik joins us to talk about his new biography, The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World (Other Press). We discuss the arc of Zweig's exile, why Zweig remains important to our age (both in his writing and in his character), how he lost his belief in the power of bildung, the fleetingness of fame and the accident of survival, the role of education in changing political dynamics, the contemporary revival of Viennese culture, the reason why Zweig fled New York City, and more!"I think he felt that the more we have to produce official documents to indicate who we are, the more we are reduced to that strip of paper."
We also talk about our respective introductions to Zweig's work, the ways that his final novella may be an allegory for Vienna, the danger of looking for clues to Zweig's suicide in his writing, and how he may have been the inspiration for Woody Allen's Zelig. Give it a listen! Go pick up a copy of The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World! And check out my Zweig-shelf!
Season 4, Episode 19 - The Customer is Always WrongMay 20, 2014 43:11
Mimi Pond joins the Virtual Memories Show to talk about Over Easy, her 15-years-in-the-making, New York Times bestselling graphic novel about diners, drugs and northern California in the 1970s!
Season 4, Episode 18 - PersonaMay 13, 2014 40:51
Listen in to part 2 of my conversation with Linn Ullmann about her new novel, The Cold Song (Other Press)! We talk about her writing habits and practices, her favorite Scandinavian authors, how she tweaked the book for its translation into English, and how August Strindberg got revenge on people. We also talk about the lengths she and her husband go to in order to get undisturbed writing time, when she realized she wasn't going to become a ballerina, and how to convey the Norwegian concept of skavank to some zhlub from New Jersey. Bonus: I let her interview me, and boy does THAT go off the rails!
Season 4, Episode 17 - Lady with a DogMay 6, 2014 49:39
In part 1 of our first 2-part episode, Linn Ullmann talks about the influences of her parents -- Liv Ullmann and Ingmar Bergman -- on her storytelling process, her subversion of the "Scandinavian crime novel" in The Cold Song (Other Press), the importance of place in her writing, the perils of overthinking the ground rules for an interview (not ours!), how she transposed a character from The Wire from Baltimore to Norway, and how she managed to convince her book club to tackle Proust. We close out with the topic of Karl Ove Knausgard's work and the ethics of explicitly writing fiction from life (which is where part 2 picks up). Ms. Ullmann's a fascinating writer and this is (this first half of) an illuminating conversation about her work and life. Give it a listen!
Season 4, Episode 16 - Euphonic SoundsApr 29, 2014 01:06:34
Novelist, essayist, poet, short story writer, and translator Lynne Sharon Schwartz sat down with me to talk about her newest essay collection, This Is Where We Came In: Intimate Glimpses (Counterpoint), but we talked about a lot more in our hour! Listen in to learn how she and her husband began recording literary readings by authors like James Baldwin, Philip Roth, John Updike, William Styron in the '60s, and how they've re-launched those recordings. We also discuss how second-wave feminism convinced her to pursue a writing career, how her ear for music influences her writing, why she swears by audiobook reader David Case, and how Margaret Atwood once dropped the boom on Norman Mailer.
Season 4, Episode 15 - Hello ColumbusApr 22, 2014 48:57
Description:"I'm a person who works in comics and knows a lot about comics, and I'm teaching people who know nothing about comics to talk to other people who know nothing about comics, about comics."
Caitiln McGurk, fresh off of curating her first exhibition at Ohio State's Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, The Irresistible Force Meets the Immovable Object: A Richard Thompson Retrospective, joins us to talk about how she got into the rather narrow field of comics librarian, the appeal of Columbus, OH, her dream-exhibition, how the Stations of the Cross got her started on comics, and what it was like to meet Bill Watterson! Give it a listen!"Because of his whole mystique, people assume Bill Watterson's a real jerk or so socially awkward that that's why he doesn't want to talk to people. But he just wants to have his own life and not be bombarded by fans all the time."
We also talk about her theory on why Ohio has spawned more cartoonists than any other state in the union, how she worked with the cartoonist Richard Thompson to put together his retrospective, why she loves the lost New Yorker cartoonist Barbara Shermund, and more!
Season 4, Episode 14 - They Call Me MISTER Hyde!Apr 15, 2014 39:31
Description:"I like that we live in an age that's increasingly curious about this dark side, and not merely in terms of its pure darkness, but of how seemingly ordinary or normal people can commit atrocities."
Daniel Levine joins us to talk about his debut novel, HYDE, an inventive and gorgeous retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It's a fun conversation about our public and private selves, the ways we define evil, the mechanics of storytelling, the luck of human evolution, and more! Give it a listen!
Season 4, Episode 13 - Reading Maketh a Full ManApr 8, 2014 01:34:35
Literature professor and book critic DG Myers is dying of cancer, but that doesn’t mean he’s planning to go gentle into that good night. In a wide-ranging conversation, we talk about why he believes university English departments will barely outlast him, how he made the move from Southern Baptist to Orthodox Judaism (getting recircumcised a few times along the way), what he’d like to be remembered for, why the idea of The Western Canon is a canard, which books and authors he's trying to get to before he dies, who he regrets not reading before now, the identity of the one author he’d like to hear from, and a WHOLE lot more.
Season 4, Episode 12 - Window, PainMar 31, 2014 45:45
Tova Mirvis joins The Virtual Memories Show to talk about her brand-new novel, Visible City and how she learned to act on her unhappiness, as well as the lifelong advice she got from Mary Gordon, the ways that writing a book is like building a stained-glass window, why being an orthodox Jew in Memphis wasn't just like Designing Women with better wigs, and the advantages of being offline for a week when the New York Times publishes your op-ed about getting divorced."I set up a scenario where all of my characters were unhappy in one way or another, and they were all watching other people, as opposed to looking inward at their own lives. I didn't know what people do about that. I was writing a realistic novel, but part of me believed that no one actually acts on their unhappiness."
We also talk about how one person’s urge to freedom is another person’s betrayal, why Visible City took her 10 years to write, what you can discover about yourself in your 40s and what you can leave behind, and the varieties of religious experience (ours, not William James’)."Orthodox Judaism and southern culture meld beautifully. In the south, there's a way we do things and a way we don't do things. And it's the same in orthodox Judaism. They're both very well-structured worlds. I grew up as a sort of cocktail of those two worlds."
BONUS! You also get my essay/monologue about Jews & Geordies!
Season 4, Episode 11 - Stick and MoveMar 25, 2014 52:04
Description:“Claressa Shields was the first boxer who showed me that women can be artists in the ring, like men. It was kind of like the first time I read Virginia Woolf."
Essayist, boxer, novelist, chef and more, Sarah Deming joins The Virtual Memories Show to talk about yoga’s role as a gateway drug into boxing, winning a Golden Gloves tournament, the joys of watching a great fighter, her literary idols, the miracle of Bernard Hopkins' longevity, and how she found her soul.“I really like the people who write about boxing with empathy. There's a lot of subtly disrespectful boxing writing. I think it's essentially because of the threat the intellectual feels from the athlete, and I think racism underlies it, too."
We also talk about the spiteful inspiration for her first novel, the thread connecting boxers and adult film stars, the magic in the mundane, and why it's almost impossible to write something boring about sex or a fight! Give it a listen! And check out these wonderful essays she wrote on skydiving and vodka-peddling!
Season 4, Episode 10 - The Stars Have AnemiaMar 17, 2014 44:37
Description:“There's a sort of romance in riding a bicycle across the country. It's something that some people would fantasize about, and when they saw me ride into their town, it brought them back to their own dreams, their own wishes about what they wanted to fill their life with."
Maya Stein is a poet, a teacher, a photographer, and more. We sat down in her restored trailer, M.A.U.D.E. (Mobile Art Unit Designed for Everyone), to talk about her life as an artist, how she built an audience for her work over the years, how she got the idea to ride a bicycle (towing a typewriter, folding table and folding chair) from Massachusetts to Wisconsin, and how she got that Type Rider journey funded on Kickstarter.“I think about 'making a living' as 'making a life'. I don't think about money being the driving force behind the decisions I make as a writer or artist."
We also talk about writing prompts, her new initiative to build Little Free Libraries via Type Rider II, and her epiphany in Elkhart, Indiana. And you get to hear my theory on how the internet makes us all normal (except for the crazy people)! Give it a listen!
About our Guest
Maya Stein is a Ninja poet, writing guide, and creative adventuress. Among her latest escapades are a 1,200-mile bicycle journey with a typewriter, a cross-country poetry trip, a French crepe stand at a Massachusetts farmers market, a relocation from San Francisco to suburban New Jersey and most recently, a collaboration — Food for the Soul Train — turning a vintage trailer into a mobile creative workshop space. (She also ran a catering business for six years and specialized in hors d’oeuvres and the finer points of napkin folding.) Her favorite body part is her left hand, as it has gifted her with the ability to sink a nearly invincible hook shot, peel a whole apple without a break, and transcribe the poems living in her heart. You can learn more about Maya’s adventures at www.mayastein.com.
Credits: This episode’s music is Typewriter (Tip Tip Tip) by Kisore Kumar & Asha Bhosle. The conversation was recorded at M.A.U.D.E on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones, feeding into a Zoom H4n recorder. The intro and outro were recorded on Blue Yeti USB Microphone. Processing was done in Audacity and Garage Band. There was a space heater going, so I used a noise removal filter in Audacity. Photo of Ms. Stein (solo) by me, and photo of Ms. Stein and me by Amy Roth.
Season 4, Episode 9 - Semper FidoMar 11, 2014 01:06:08
Description:"We move through a human-centric world as if that is reality, but we're surrounded by other species, and their species is centric to their world. I'm interested in how that works, not in humanizing other animals."
In honor of K-9 Veterans Day, our guests are Sheila Keenan and Nathan Fox, the writer and the artist behind Dogs of War, a YA graphic novel about dogs on the battlefield. We talk about their collaborative process and how it developed over the course of this project, as well as the challenges of writing about war for a YA audience, how the trajectory of dog use parallels the development of military technology, and the ways that our empathy for animals can help us better understand the cost of conflict."I want the power of time and imagination that resides in the white space between panels."
Also, find out about their circuitous paths to comics, the alchemy of a writer's vision interpreted by an artist, why Nathan launched an MFA program at the School of Visual Arts, and how Sheila’s husband wooed her with a page of Love & Rockets!
Season 4, Episode 8 - The Slippery AnimalMar 4, 2014 01:09:29
Literary legend Bruce Jay Friedman joins the Virtual Memories Show for a fun conversation about his literary career, which encompasses six decades of short stories, novels, plays and Oscar®-nominated screenwriting. We talk about his newest projects, how both the writing and the sale of short stories have changed over the course of his career, and why he's happier in that form than the novel. Why was he successful in Hollywood when F. Scott Fitzgerald and Anthony Powell crapped out there? Listen in to find out!"Hollywood to me was fun. Like a boy being let loose in a candy store. I was offended when I'd get called in off the tennis court to write a few scenes. I can tell you: there is no one who had more fun than I did in Hollywood."
We also talk about how stories begin, where he sees himself in the continuum of Jewish American writers, why Dustin Hoffman hates him, whether he’s ever been tempted to write The Big Novel, why he’s getting more Jewish as he gets older, why he prefers the Franco-Prussian war over other wars, and how to find the right kind of pistachio nuts."I always feel guilty about being entertained. I feel like I should be reading Suetonius."
Bonus: I rant about leaving my job and ask you for money!Josh Alan Friedman Kipp Friedman Drew Friedman Mark Feltskog Phillip Lopate
About our Guest
Novelist, playwright, short story writer and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Bruce Jay Friedman was born in New York City. Friedman published his first novel Stern in 1962 and established himself as a writer and playwright, most famously known for his off-Broadway hit Steambath (1973) (TV) and his 1978 novel The Lonely Guy's Book of Life. In addition to short stories and plays, Mr. Friedman has also published seven other novels, and has written numerous screenplays, including the Oscar-nominated Splash (1984). His memoir, Lucky Bruce, came out in 2011. He resides in New York City with his second wife, educator Patricia J. O’Donohue. Check out his Amazon page for info on his books and plays.
Credits: This episode’s music is Frenesi by Artie Shaw. The conversation was recorded at Mr. Friedman's home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom H4n recorder. The intro and outro were recorded on Blue Yeti USB Microphone. Processing was done in Audacity and Garage Band. Photo of Mr. Friedman by me.
Season 4, Episode 6 - The Realm of the PossibleFeb 11, 2014 01:07:23
Description:"Being an artist and talking about being an artist is a lot about trying to suss out your audience: how much do they know about art, how much do they care, is a casual question, or are they deeply invested in the answer?"
How did Bean Gilsdorf go from studying linguistics to becoming an artist, critic and curator? While in NYC for the opening of her three-person show, Dead Ringer, Bean joined us to talk about making the decision to be an artist, building a career without mass-marketing her art, escaping the tautology of process, the value of getting an MFA, the most asked question at her arts column at the Daily Serving, the difference between the fictional and the imaginary, and more!“I want to be the kind of artist who amuses myself. . . . I reserve the right to have the last laugh."
We also talk about her current work — including her Borgesian Exhibition That Might Exist (in Portland), and the Bean Gilsdorf Living History Museum (in San Francisco), which has transformed her apartment into the world’s smallest living history museum — as well as her process of understanding her audience(s), her discovery that sometimes the problem is you and not your materials, and how she reconciles all of her past selves and muses over her future ones.
Season 4, Episode 5 - Feeling Gravett's PullFeb 3, 2014 01:21:34
Description:"Comics is a medium that isn't going to go away. It may just now finally be coming into its own in the 21st century. In this internet era, there's something very special about what comics do, no matter how much they get warped and changed by technology."
Paul Gravett, British comics' The Man at the Crossroads, talks about his new book, Comics Art (Yale University Press), the new exhibition he's curating for the British Library, Comics Unmasked: Art & Anarchy in the UK, the history of comics and his history within it, and the way virtually every lifelong comics reader's home winds up resembling an episode of Hoarders. He's one of comics' finest ambassadors, and it was a pleasure to talk with him during my recent UK trip."I'm probably slightly insane for wanting to go on looking and searching and questioning and provoking myself, trying to find stuff that doesn't give me what I know already."
Season 4, Episode 4 - Crackers and BagelsJan 28, 2014 01:14:51
Josh Alan Friedman, author of Black Cracker, is the third Friedman brother I've interviewed, as part of my "Capturing the (Other) Friedmans" series of podcasts. (I really gotta rename that.) Josh is an accomplished author and guitarist, and has plenty of stories of New York at its most sordid. We met up at a cafe in Times Square to talk about his old days writing for Al Goldstein's Screw magazine, why it took him more than 30 years to write Black Cracker, his "Lewis & Martin" theory about his estrangement from his brother Drew, his parents' successful divorce, and more!
Along the way, we also develop an idea for a high-concept movie, talk lewdly in front of some tourists, and figure out that therapy just gets in the way of making good art. If you've got a problem with any of that (especially the coarse language) then you should skip this episode.
Season 4, Episode 3 - The Consolation of PoetryJan 20, 2014 48:39
Rachel Hadas, poet, essayist, translator and professor, discusses her recent memoir, Strange Relation, about losing her husband to early-onset dementia. She also talks about lessons learned from more than 30 years as a professor, how one should try to take up reading poetry later in life, and why the Furies may have looked the other way when Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter.
Season 4, Episode 2 - A Place To RestJan 14, 2014 51:33
Emily Raboteau, author of Searching for Zion: The Quest for Home in the African Diaspora (Atlantic Monthly Press), joins the Virtual Memories Show to show to talk about the many notions of “home" for black people. Along the way, we talk about the many notions of what constitutes a black person. As Ms. Raboteau discovered in the travels chronicled in her book — encompassing Israel, Jamaica, Ethiopia, Ghana and America’s deep south — there are a lot of ideas about who’s black and what blackness means."We reach for stories to be able to take risks."
We also talk about churchgoing in New York City, what it’s like to travel to Antarctica, why the story of Exodus is so pivotal in the black American experience, why Jewish book reviewers thought she was pulling a bait-and-switch, why she chose to explore her black roots instead of her white ones for this book, what motherhood means, and what it was like to give a talk about faith on behalf of Bobby McFerrin. Go listen!
Season 4, Episode 1 - Changing ChannelsJan 7, 2014 52:06
We kick off 2014 with a conversation with Brett Martin, author of Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad (The Penguin Press). We talk about TV's third golden age and the outsized personalities that helped drive it, the utter uncanniness of Tony Soprano (and James Gandolfini), how the TV showrunner became the auteur of our age, how Breaking Bad may have ended the notion of "Trojan horse" shows, why Battlestar Galactica didn't make the cut in his book, why it's so tough to end a novelistic TV show, and more!"I seem to spend a lot of time being hectored by big ego'd men in my career. I anticipate a lot more of that."
It's an engaging conversation about the dominant narrative form of this century (at least in terms of ambition and scope), an exploration of the intersection of art and commerce, and a little bit of an inquiry into our age's rush to consensus and its attendant need to declare something The Best Ever. Brett's a terrific writer and has clearly thought long and hard about these topics.
Season 3, Episode 32 - The Guest ListDec 31, 2013 43:38
It's the last episode of 2013! Let's ask two dozen of our pod-guests for the favorite books that they read in the last year! (Here's the cheat-sheet, if you don't wanna write them all down...)
Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West - Cormac McCarthy
The Patrick Melrose Novels: Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, and Mother's Milk - Edward St. Aubyn
At Last - Edward St. Aubyn
River of Smoke - Amitav Ghosh
Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power - Robert Kaplan
Season 3, Episode 31 - The Whimsical BarracudaDec 17, 2013 44:24
Description:"With my brothers, it was like ‘Resistance is futile! You will enjoy horror movies! You will go to comic book conventions! You will learn to love B-movies and worship Tor Johnson and Plan 9 from Outer Space! Shemp Howard must be worshipped!"
Kipp Friedman is the latest member of a comedic dynasty (as per the subtitle of his new memoir, Barracuda in the Attic). The son of novelist, journalist, playwright and screenwriter Bruce Jay Friedman and brother of cartoonist Drew Friedman and writer/musician Josh Alan Friedman, Kipp has tossed his hat into the ring with a book filled with tales of New York City in the 1960’s and ‘70s, of pop culture education, of living with his divorced dad during his days writing "The Lonely Guy" columns, and more!"My father was so prolific for so many years as a writer, people would wonder why he never seemed to be working. And yet his stuff kept on being published. I think making it seem effortless rubbed off on his kids. We agonize over everything."
While in NYC for a series of book readings, Kipp sat down to talk with me about Barracuda in the Attic, the joys of “growing up Friedman,” hunting for comics and Mad magazines with his brothers, what he misses about New York, what he’ll never forgive the Knicks for, how he ended up with a "real job," and what it felt like to add a volume to the bookshelf of works by his family. It’s a wonderful perspective on the most creative family any of us will likely ever see!
Season 3, Episode 30 - On Cats and CalamitiesDec 10, 2013 54:46
What does the search for a lost cat have to tell us about the nature of love and marriage? Peter Trachtenberg joins The Virtual Memories Show to try to answer that question and to talk about his work, including The Book of Calamities: Five Questions About Suffering and Its Meaning and Another Insane Devotion: On the Love of Cats and Persons! We discuss the tension between non-fiction and fiction, how to search for a lost cat, where the line is between the private and the public, how he stumbled into the lyric essay form, how the process of getting clean and sober influenced his writing, how marriages fall apart and how they (maybe) come back together, and more!
Season 3, Episode 29 - War is a Self-Licking Ice Cream ConeDec 3, 2013 01:25:58
Zach Martin recently retired from the U.S. Marine Corps after 16 years in the service. But 25 years ago, he and your host were hyperliterate misfit high-school pals, trading Thomas Pynchon, Thomas Disch and Robert Anton Wilson novels. So how did he end up commanding Marine Recon forces in Iraq and Afghanistan as Maj. Zachary D. Martin? Let's find out on The Virtual Memories Show!
Season 3, Episode 28 - You Can't Get There From HereNov 26, 2013 50:01
Lisa Borders joins the show to talk about her new novel, The Fifty-First State! It's a fine book about mismatched half-siblings brought together by calamity, set in an area of New Jersey overlooked by most everyone but its residents. Lisa and I have a fun conversation about her work and influences, how her science background informs her writing process (she's a part-time cytotechnologist), why form has to rise from story, how to teach novel-writing, why she stands by Jonathan Franzen’s novels, how a Michael Cunningham short story changed her life, and whether southern NJ should secede and become America's fifty-first state.
Season 3, Episode 27 - Sex, Crime and Other Arbitrary Genre LabelsNov 19, 2013 01:01:11
Editor, writer, publisher and translator Maxim Jakubowski talks about his lifetime & career in erotica, how he feels about being The King of the Erotic Thriller, his strategies for maneuvering through Book Expo America, the silliness of genre labels, the perils of having a bad book habit (that’s "bad book-habit", not "bad-book habit"), how e-books have amplified Sturgeon's Law, how he managed to make a killing off the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon under a BDSM pseudonym, and MUCH more!
Season 3, Episode 26 - Glamour ProfessionNov 12, 2013 54:54
Virginia Postrel joins us to talk about her new book, The Power of Glamour: Longing and the Art of Visual Persuasion. We talk about the uses and abuses of glamour, the nerd fixation on space travel, the first known symbol of glamour, how Barack Obama's first election campaign was heaven-sent for Ms. Postrel's book, and more!
Season 3, Episode 25 - The Land of the Big SulkNov 5, 2013 01:20:37
Hooman Majd joins us to talk about his new book, The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay: An American Family in Iran, documenting his family's year-long stay in Teheran in 2011. We also cover Iran's conflict of nationalism and religion, its nuclear issue, the possibility of becoming a modern state without liberal democracy, why Israel and Iran should be BFFs, whether there's a word in Farsi for 'sprezzatura', and more!
Season 3, Episode 24 - The Show Must Go OnOct 28, 2013 45:32
Cartoonist Roger Langridge joins us to talk about his work on The Muppets, Doctor Who, and Popeye, finding his niche in all-ages comics, his upbringing in New Zealand, learning to write his own stories, why he won't work with Marvel or DC anymore, and the one character from one of those companies that he'd have loved to work on. It's a delightful conversation with one of the nicest guys in comics!
Season 3, Episode 23 - Wine, Women and Novel-WritingOct 22, 2013 01:06:23
Season 3, Episode 22 - The Least Insane of CartoonistsOct 15, 2013 01:29:15
Peter Bagge, the comics legend behind Hate!, Neat Stuff, Apocalypse Nerd and Everybody is Stupid Except for Me, joins us to talk about his new book, Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story. We have a great conversation about why he chose to write about the founder of Planned Parenthood, how he made the shift from fiction to nonfiction comics, who his favorite "pre-feminist feminists" are, why he decided to stick with comic books over paperback books (and why he came around on the latter), what the strangest sketchbook request he ever received is, and how he feels about being a comics convention prostitute.
Season 3, Episode 21 - The Guy Who Drew the Liver SpotsOct 8, 2013 01:06:11
Drew Friedman, the Vermeer of the Borscht Belt, joins us at the 2nd Ave. Deli in NYC to talk about painting Old Jewish Comedians, being Howard Stern's favorite artist, spending his childhood watching TV and reading comic books, why he left New York, and more!
Season 3, Episode 20 - Slipping the Noose of the TopicalSep 23, 2013 55:41
Phillip Lopate joins us to talk about his career as America's pre-eminent personal essayist, his literary influences, his teaching methods, his two new collections, his favorite NY Met, and more!
Season 3, Episode 19 - Great Vengeance and Furious AngerSep 10, 2013 01:00:45
Description:“It’s not natural to forgive without some sense of evening the score. It’s intolerable to know that someone gets away with something, and there’s no sense of avenging the act.”
Thane Rosenbaum talks revenge in the second episode of our two-part 9/11 special! An author and law professor, Thane recently published Payback: The Case for Revenge (University of Chicago Press), an exploration of how the American judicial system has excluded vengeance from justice, to the detriment of the polity and the moral universe.“I’m not advocating that people go seek revenge as self-help; I am advocating that the legal system has to do a better job to do it on our behalf.”
We discuss why the American legal system has a problem with emotion, how victims have been trivialized, what to do about suicide bombers, how western man split justice and revenge (and why it was a huge mistake), how Aeschylus’ Oresteia creates a perfect model for the justice system, how to make better lawyers (and better people), and how The Godfather demonstrates the rule of proportionality.“Let’s stop pretending that we don’t believe in vengeance. Because if you believe in justice, you believe in vengeance. It’s a false distinction between them.”
Bonus: You get to hear about the time I had to decide whether to have someone killed!
Season 3, Episode 18 - American GraffitiSep 3, 2013 57:09
Jonathan Hyman is the first guest of our two-part 9/11 special! Jonathan began photographing 9/11 murals, tattoos and other memorials immediately after the attacks and continued the project for 10 years, amassing a collection of 20,000 photos, as well as field notes and interviews. (We first met when a mutual pal told him about my 9/11 tattoo.)
University of Texas Press recently published a collection of critical essays about Jonathan's work, The Landscapes of 9/11: A Photographer's Journey, and it includes some of his amazing photos (like the one above, as well as this guy), as well as some great commentary about memorial artwork in other cultures.
We had a fantastic conversation about his decade-long project, the notion of these mementos mori as American folk art, his own 9/11 experience, how he became a photographer, and his struggle to keep this work from defining him as a person.
Photo by Jonathan Hyman.
Season 3, Episode 17 - Arts and Sciences and BugsAug 20, 2013 01:34:25
Description:I take something that seems obscure, and it leads you to somewhere that is not where you expect.
First, philosopher, musicologist, clarinetist and author David Rothenberg joins us to talk about his new book, Bug Music: How Insects Gave Us Rhythm and Noise, and its accompanying CD. It's a fun conversation about rhythms and meta-rhythms, 17-year cicadas, David's lifetime of music, the joy of bringing different people's worlds together, how aesthetic preference sorta trumps survival of the fittest. the development of bugstep, and the secret to finding a rewarding job teaching the humanities. (And, really, you should listen just to find out that secret.)These points in your life, you often wonder what would have happened if you'd taken the other course. I could've gone into theology or some bloody thing. Instead I wound up in science and I'm atheist now.
Then (around the 43:00 mark), we have a conversation with Clive Bennett, the CEO of Halo Pharma, a pharmaceutical contract manufacturing organization. I met Clive through my day job, and found him so delightfully literate, discursive and thoughtful that I asked him to record a segment on the podcast. Once I had him cornered, I asked him why he'd gone into the sciences, given his artistic, historical, musical and literary interests. (Really, I think it was just a condemnation of myself for not doing more with my time.) He decided to bring his Kindle along to break out what he's reading and why. It's two men talking about the choices we make and those that are made for us.
Season 3, Episode 16 - Readercon - Monsters, Memories and MythmakingAug 5, 2013 01:45:22
Season 3, Episode 15 - Readercon - Fairies and ZombiesJul 23, 2013 01:28:36
It's time for a 2-part podcast! I went up to Readercon 24 in Burlington, MA in July and came back with a passel of conversations!
First, John Crowley, author of Little, Big, Aegypt, Engine Summer and other great novels and short stories, joined us talk about his work, his influences, the shifting nature of the literary marketplace, the allure of imaginary books, and more!
Then, fiction-writer, editor, wrestling biographer (?) and ukelele enthusiast Scott Edelman joins us to talk about zombies, literary genre ghettoes, his history at conventions, his time working at Marvel Comics in the '70s, and the virtues of workshopping fiction!
Next episode: Readercon conversations with Theodora Goss, Valya Dudycz Lupescu and Nancy Hightower!
Season 3, Episode 14 - The Wonders of the Audible WorldJul 9, 2013 01:15:30
David Gates, author of Jernigan. Preston Falls, and The Wonders of the Invisible World, talks about his writing career, owning his niche (once accurately described as “smart but self-destructive white American middle-class men in crisis”), teaching fiction, leaving the east coast for Montana, building a country/rock band of writers and critics, how he feels about the end of Newsweek, and the anxiety that drove him into writing his first novel. It’s a fun, rambling conversation with one of my favorite living writers. Then, repeat guest Ann Rivera joins us to talk about her recent reads and how she escaped the postmodern condition!
Season 3, Episode 13 - Mike and Ivan's Cartoon CabaretJun 22, 2013 01:28:11
This time around on the Virtual Memories Show, we talk to a couple of great cartoonists! First up, Michael Kupperman, the cartoonist behind Tales Designed to Thrizzle, Snake & Bacon's Cartoon Cabaret, and Mark Twain's Autobiography: 1910-2010, talks about absurdism, cartooning as stress relief, how the UCB taught him to stop worrying and start performing his comics on stage, how he got the idea to mash up Quincy and Inception, and where the whole Mark Twain thing comes from. Conan O'Brien says he has "one of the best comedy brains on the planet.""A lot of artists dismiss what they're working on because it's not what they want to be working on, or because it could be better. Whatever you've been doing, THAT'S your work. It's not the stuff you've been thinking about doing, or wanting to do, it's what you actually produced." -- Ivan Brunetti
Then Ivan Brunetti joins us to talk about his new book, Aesthetics: A Memoir, as well as how he began teaching cartooning, what he learned from trying to win the art job on Nancy, how he wound up becoming a cover artist for the New Yorker, and how he managed to drag himself out of the self-loathing misanthropy captured in his early Schizo comics!
Season 3, Episode 12 - Highest LearningJun 11, 2013 01:25:46
Eva Brann of St. John's College tells us about how the school and its Great Books program has (and hasn't) changed over the FIFTY-SEVEN YEARS she's been a tutor there. Then alum Ian Kelley talks about his experiences in the program and how they informed his decision to join the U.S. Navy.
Season 3, Episode 11 - Little Suicides, Little FishMay 28, 2013 51:51
Season 3, Episode 10 - Eternity is Music that PlaysMay 14, 2013 54:46
Poet, novelist, memoirist and all-around wonderful writer Wallis Wilde-Menozzi joins us on this episode of The Virtual Memories Show to talk about her two new books, The Other Side of the Tiber: Reflections on Time in Italy and Toscanelli's Ray: A Novel. It's a great conversation about the American experience in Italy over 40 years. Ms. Wilde-Menozzi possesses both a poet's sensibility for beautiful, lyrical language and a keen eye that carefully observes the character of Italy, its populace, and its art. I highly recommend The Other Side of the Tiber; it's a gorgeous, haunting book (I haven't read Toscanelli yet, so I can't vouch for it).
Season 3, Episode 9 - Putting the Pro in ProfanityApr 29, 2013 39:40
Lexicographer Jesse Sheidlower joins us to talk about his work at the Oxford English Dictionary, the process of pitching The F-Word, how what we find offensive has changed over time, the ways words get into the language, the OED's transition to digital, the roots of "dropping an F-bomb", the value of kids' texting habits, and the importance of hosting dinner parties and wearing fine suits. Plus, you get to listen to me obsess over word choices and still embarrass myself!
Season 3, Episode 8 - Visible CitiesApr 16, 2013 01:39:32
Cartoonist and MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Fellowship winner Ben Katchor joins us for the first live episode of The Virtual Memories Show (in conjunction with the New York Comics & Picture-stories Symposium)! Ben & host Gil Roth talk in front of 50 or so people about Ben's new collection, Hand-Drying in America and Other Stories (Pantheon), as well as what he learned from his work in other art forms (like musical theater), the malling of New York, how publishing lost its identity, how he teaches cartooning, the move to drawing by computer tablet, his one critical audience demographic, the joy of imperfections, how to pronounce "Knipl," whether he has an ideal era for New York, what happened to his History of the Dairy Restaurant book, how fear of shame keeps him productive, how Google can help when you need to draw a Russian prostitute, the Yiddish humor strips he read as a child, and the one book the Library of America should withdraw. (And more!)
Season 3, Episode 7 - The Importance of Being OutApr 1, 2013 01:11:51
Season 3, Episode 6 -Cartoon CharacterMar 19, 2013 27:54
Matt Wuerker, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning, joins The Virtual Memories Showto talk about his career (including his fascinating non-comics work and his prescient move to the online world with POLITICO), the experience of winning "the Academy Award for cartoonists", his artistic and political influences, what it takes to get on the NRA's Enemies List, the opportunities for editorial cartoonists in a post-print world, how his parents felt about his decision to become a cartoonist, whether he had it easier during the Bush/Cheney era or the Tea Party era, and why he thinks the golden age of cartooning is still ahead of us!"One of the great cosmic quandaries for cartoonists is that what's bad for the world is great for cartooning."
About our Guest
Matt Wuerker has been POLITICO's editorial cartoonist and illustrator since its launch in 2007. In 2012, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning, POLITICO's first Pulitzer win. In 2009, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in editorial cartooning. Over the past 25 years, his work has appeared in publications ranging from The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times to Smithsonian and the Nation, among many others. Along the way, he's also pursued other artistic tangents that have included claymation, outdoor murals, teaching cartooning in prison (as a visitor, not as an inmate), book illustration and animating music videos. Matt thinks Saul Steinberg is a cartoon god and the Peter Principle explains pretty much everything, and he also thinks the maxim "If you're not confused, you're just not thinking clearly" is one of the wisest things ever said. Matt lives in Washington, D.C., in close proximity to the National Zoo and the Swiss Embassy. Depending how bad things get, he hopes to find asylum in one or the other.
Credits: This episode’s music is Nobody's Home by Ulrich Schnauss. The conversation was recorded at the Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington, D.C., on a pair of AT2020 mics, feeding into a Zoom H4n recorder. I recorded the other material on a Samson Meteor Mic USB Studio Microphone into Audacity. All editing and processing was done in Garage Band.
Season 3, Episode 5 - Sound Before StoryMar 5, 2013 39:53
Writer/critic Greg Gerke joins us to talk about his recent interview with William Gass, the literary legend behind Omensetter's Luck, The Tunnel, a wide range of essays, and the new novel Middle C.
Season 3, Episode 4 - God's Way of Teaching Americans GeographyFeb 20, 2013 01:14:05
Guest Fred Kaplan talks about the history of counterinsurgency and his new book, The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War, as well as how we managed to get out of Iraq, how Afghanistan's failure may have been preordained, how PowerPoint makes people dumb, and how he made a career out of war writing.
Season 3, Episode 3 - All Tomorrow's PartiesFeb 5, 2013 24:25
I talked with Miss Scorpio, party planner extraordinaire and mistress of Gemini and Scorpio, about 10 years of throwing fabulous themed costume parties, curating one of New York City's largest underground mailing lists of offbeat cultural events, how to build your own social network, and why you never want to do dinner and a movie for your internet first date.
Check it out at The Virtual Memories Show podcast!
Season 3, Episode 2 - The Magnificent SevenJan 23, 2013 01:03:10
Willard Spiegelman talks about his wonderful book, Seven Pleasures: Essays on Ordinary Happiness, his addiction to ballroom dancing, how to find joy in the day-to-day world, why he hates book clubs, what Dallas, TX is like for a secular Philadelphia Jew, how he turned me on to one of my favorite novels, who his Desert Island Poets are, how he writes about the visual arts, why the world's great novels are lost on the young, what it was like to attend his 50th high school reunion, and more!
Season 3, Episode 1 - DisarmJan 8, 2013 53:08
We kick off the new year by talking about the end of the world! Guest Ron Rosenbaum discusses his new book on nuclear war, the paradox of deterrence, the evolution of literary journalism, Nixon's final lie, and more!
Season 2, Episode 16 - Not the camera but the eyeDec 18, 2012 40:51
Photographer Kyle Cassidy, author of Armed America (2007) and War Paint (2012), joins The Virtual Memories Show to talk about the myths of gun culture, discovering America(s), chronicling subcultures from roller-derby to soldiers with tattoos, the oddest thing he's seen on a science-fiction writer's desk, his most hated digital photo tricks, and more!
Season 2, Episode 15 - Hassling the HoffDec 10, 2012 54:22
Guest Scott Hoffman of Folio Literary Management talks about the changing economics of publishing, the explosion of the YA market, the diminishing relevance of gatekeepers, and more!
Season 2, Episode 14 - Classic PopNov 26, 2012 54:36
Guest Bob Sikoryak talks about Masterpiece Comics, mashing up high and low culture, the '80's art scene in NYC, the mainstream acceptance of comics, cartoonists and performance art, and why he can't stand the term "Graphic Novels".
Season 2, Episode 13 - The Correction of TasteOct 16, 2012 01:13:31
Pulitzer-winning book critic Michael Dirda joins us to talk about the role of negative reviews, the value of book reviews in the internet age, breaking out of the genre ghetto, his path into Book World, and more! [This one is a re-mastered edition of the Oct. 2012 episode.]
Season 2, Episode 12 - Comic SansOct 3, 2012 32:57
Season 2, Episode 11 - Fire and Bleak HouseSep 13, 2012 01:03:25
Guest Boaz Roth talks about rebuilding his library after a house fire, the joys of Bleak House, the influence of Orwell's essay, Inside the Whale, superhero movies, the merits of Lost, and what he's learned over 18 years of teaching literature.
Season 2, Episode 10 - Four Quartets and Other PilgrimagesSep 5, 2012 48:32
Guest Lyn Ballard talks about her gateway books, the metaphysical poets, reading Huck Finn at the age of 5, an embarrassing Stanley Elkin anecdote, the importance of making literary pilgrimages, and more.
Season 2, Episode 9 - New York and Old SouthAug 9, 2012 47:05
Guest Jane Borden talks about how debutante training did not prepare her for life in New York, how a night at UCB changed her life, how she built her writing career, and her 2011 memoir, I Totally Meant To Do That.
Season 2, Episode 8 - Manga-loids and SteampunksJul 5, 2012 01:03:26
Gil Roth talks with Diana Renn about her new YA novel, Tokyo Heist, then has a long conversation with science fiction writer/critic Paul Di Filippo about what it's like to be a Steampunk icon, how to make it as a writer, and Before Watchmen.
Season 2, Episode 7 - Here at the Western WorldJun 15, 2012 01:01:43
Gil talks with Tom May, a tutor at St. John's College, about his path to the school, how the place has changed over the years, and how he had to get a note from his priest to read books from the Vatican's Index Librorum Prohibitorum.
Season 2, Episode 6 - My Old SchoolJun 15, 2012 30:23
Gil gets back from "vacation" and chats with St. John's College tutor David Townsend about the transcendence of good conversation, and the possibility of adding comic books to the Great Books curriculum.
Season 2, Episode 5 - Look in Your Heart.mp3May 13, 2012 19:23
Guest John B. talks about his 10-minute death last year and how he's looked at his life since then, and Gil talks about Robert Caro and the publicity-industrial complex. Trust me; it's good!
Season 2, Episode 3 - Good Housekeeping.mp3Mar 5, 2012 29:12
Guest Ann Rivera talks about Housekeeping in the first Secondhand Books conversation.
Season 2, Episode 2 - Burning libraries.mp3Feb 5, 2012 13:07
Host Gil Roth talks about burning libraries, Geoff Dyer, and Norah Jones
Season 2, Episode 1 - Pale horses at the burger joint.mp3Jan 11, 2012 09:45
Host Gil Roth talks about Bach, Piers Anthony and the escapism of being a geek.