The Virtual Memories Show

A bonus podcast? It's a Christmas miracle! No interview this time, but I talk about 2017, lament the loss of a past guest, and talk about what we're doing here. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: 2017_Year-End_Bonus_Mini-Episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:22pm EST

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

Direct download: Episode_249_-_The_Guest_List_2017.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:27pm EST

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

Direct download: Episode_248_-_Cullen_Murphy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:46pm EST

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

Direct download: Episode_247_-_Vanda_Krefft.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:53pm EST

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

Direct download: Episode_246_-_Eddy_Portnoy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:02pm EST

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

Direct download: Epsiode_245_-_Eshkol_Nevo__Paul_Gravett.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:53pm EST

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

Direct download: Episode_244_-_Nicholas_Delbanco.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:06pm EST

"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

Direct download: Episode_243_-_Martin_Rowson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:39am EST

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

Direct download: Episode_242_-_George_Lois.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:32pm EST

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

Direct download: Episode_241_-_Barry_Blitt.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:08pm EST