The Virtual Memories Show (general)

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

Direct download: Episode_278_-_Dmitry_Samarov.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:33pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_277_-_Nathaniel_Popkin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:44pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_276_-_Mark_Ulriksen.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:41pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_275_-_Dave_Calver.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:47pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_274_-_Chris_Reynolds.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:08pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_273_-_Alberto_Manguel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:51pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_272_-_Irvin_Ungar.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:01am EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_271_-_Christopher_Brown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:04pm EDT

On the occasions of Philip Roth's death and Sandy McClatchy's memorial service, I ruminate on opportunities missed and taken in this bonus episode. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: 2018_Memorial_Day_Bonus_Mini-Episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:51am EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_270_-_Ilana_C._Myer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:35pm EDT