The Virtual Memories Show (general)

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

Direct download: Episode_287_-_Audrey_Niffenegger.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:14am EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_286_-_Moby.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:06pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_285_-_Glen_David_Gold.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:49pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_284_-_Richard_Kadrey.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:12pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_283_-_Robert_Andrew_Parker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:38pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_282_-_Lance_Richardson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:11pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_281_-_Bill_Plympton.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:09pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_280_-_David_Lloyd.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:44am EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_279_-_Hal_Mayforth.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:03pm EDT

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

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

Direct download: Episode_269_-_Michael_Kupperman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:12pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_268_-_Roz_Chast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:15pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_267_-_JJ_Sedelmaier.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:41pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_266_-_Steven_Heller.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:40pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_265_-_Jaime_Hernandez.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:18pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_264_-_Dean_Haspiel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:01pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_263_-_Jonathan_Ames.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:32pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_262_-_Jerry_Moriarty.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:05pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_261_-_Robert_Weil.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:43am EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_260_-_Jesse_Sheidlower.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:32pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_259_-_Lavie_Tidhar.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:01am EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_258_-_Willard_Spiegelman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:03pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_257_-_Jerry_Beck.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:44pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_256_-_Lauren_Weinstein.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:07pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_255_-_Henry_Wessells.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:17pm EDT

 

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

Direct download: Episode_254_-_Ann_Hulbert.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:20pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_253_-_John_Leland.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:10pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_252_-_Seymour_Chwast__Ann_Rivera.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:03pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_251_-_Paul_Karasik__Mark_Newgarden.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:17pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_250_-_Dave_McKean.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:19pm EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

"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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_240_-_John_Crowley_and_Michael_Meyer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:01pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_239_-_Pete_Bagge_and_Mimi_Pond.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:30pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_238_-_Shannon_Wheeler.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:11pm EDT

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 PaypalCartoon by Ann Telnaes for The Washington Post

Direct download: Episode_237_-_Ann_Telnaes_and_Matt_Wuerker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:41pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_236_-_Mimi_Pond.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:38pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_235_-_Liz_Hand_and_John_Clute.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:19pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_234_-_Kathy_Bidus.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:57pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_233_-_Ellen_Datlow.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:16pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_232_-_Gordon_Van_Gelder.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_231_-_Sven_Birkerts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:04pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_230_-_Patty_Farmer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:02pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_229_-_Matt_Ruff.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:19pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_228_-_Ellen_Forney.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:26pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_227_-_Ben_Schwartz.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:29pm EDT

"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

Direct download: Episode_226_-_Joyce_Farmer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:38pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_225_-_Howard_Chaykin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:17pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_224_-_Graham_Chaffee.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:38pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_223_-_Joe_Ciardiello.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:21am EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_222_-_Arnie_Levin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:46pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_221_-_Kyle_Cassidy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:01pm EDT

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

 

Direct download: Episode_220_-_Seth.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:39pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_219_-_Keiler_Roberts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:02pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_218_-_RO_Blechman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:45pm EDT

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

 

Direct download: Episode_217_-_Vanessa_Sinclair.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:30pm EDT

"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

Direct download: Episode_216_-_George_Prochnik.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:43pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_215_-_Charif_Majdalani.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:18pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_214_-_Wallis_Wilde-Menozzi.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:29pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_213_-_Sarah_Williams_Goldhagen.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:32pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_212_-_Samuel_R._Delany.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:01pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_211_-_John_Cuneo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:35pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_210_-_Tony_Tulathimutte.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00am EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_209_-_Jeff_Nunokawa.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:26pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_208_-_Barbara_Epler.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:15pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_207_-_Garth_Greenwell.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:09pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_206_-_Jessa_Crispin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:14pm EDT

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

 

Direct download: Episode_205_-_Patrick_McDonnell.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:16pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_204_-_Phillip_Lopate.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:39pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_203_-_Ben_Yagoda.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:04pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_202_-_Karen_Green.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:08pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_201_-_Brad_Gooch.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:16pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_200_-_Thomas_Dolby.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:59pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_199_-_Michael_Tisserand.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:02pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_198_-_Ed_Ward.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:12pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_197_-_The_Guest_List_2016.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:33pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_196_-_Myke_Cole.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:13pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Episode_195_-_Thanksgiving_2016_special.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:16pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_194_-_Bob_Eckstein.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:23am EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_193_-_Ed_Koren.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:51pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_192_-_Jim_Woodring.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:04pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_191_-_Ben_Katchor.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:08pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_190_-_Liza_Donnelly.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:56pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_189_-_Glen_Baxter.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:10pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_188_-_Hayley_Campbell.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:19am EDT

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

 

Direct download: Episode_187_-_Tom_Gauld.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:47pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_186_-_Michael_Maslin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:38pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_185_-_Willard_Spiegelman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:02pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_184_-_David_M._Carr.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:33am EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_183_-_Jeff_Gomez.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:09pm EDT

"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

Direct download: Episode_182_-_Virginia_Heffernan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:25pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_181_-_Chris_Rose.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:37pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_180_-_Leslie_Stein.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:41pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_179_-_Andrea_Tsurumi.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:01pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_178_-_Arthur_Lubow.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:35pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_177_-_MK_Brown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:15pm EDT

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

 

Direct download: Episode_176_-_Malcolm_Margolin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:29pm EDT

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

 

Direct download: Episode_175_-_Paul_Mavrides.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:48pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_174_-_Ann_Patty.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:30am EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_173_-_Christopher_Nelson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:31pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_172_-_Glynnis_Fawkes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:05pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_171_-_Jim_Ottaviani.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:44am EDT

In the inaugural episode of #NJPoet's Corner, Chuck Bivona (aka #NJPoet) talks about his evolution on Twitter with Virtual Memories Show host Gil Roth

Direct download: Episode_1_-_My_Twitter_Life.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:35am EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_170_-_Chester_Brown__Nina_Bunjevac_w_NJPoets_Corner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:30pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_169_-_David_Mikics.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:55pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_168_-_Harry_Katz.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:26pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Episode_167_-_John_Holl.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:06pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_166_-_Ben_Model.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:40pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_165_-_Fred_Kaplan_w_NJPoets_Corner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:08pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_164_-_Kliph_Nesteroff__Liz_Hand.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:06pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_163_-_David_Leopold.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:41pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_162_-_Phoebe_Gloeckner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:32pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_161_-_Dan_Perkins_Tom_Tomorrow__NJPoets_Corner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:01pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_160_-_Bob_Stein__Ashton_Applewhite.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:23pm EDT

"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

Direct download: Episode_159_-_Burton_Pike.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:23am EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_158_-_Glenn_Head.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:55pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_157_-_Dan_Cafaro.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:43pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_156_-_Ross_Benjamin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:36pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_155_-_Christopher_Kloeble.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:45pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_154_-_Kriota_Willberg.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:03pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_153_-_Rachel_Hadas.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:54pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_152_-_Carol_Tyler.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:53pm EDT

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".

More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show at Patreon

Direct download: Episode_151_-_Harold_Bloom.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:14pm EDT

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!

More info about this episoide at our siteSupport the Virtual Memories Show at Patreon

Direct download: Episode_150_-_Molly_Crabapple.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:47pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Episode_149_-_Keith_Knight.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:05pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Episode_148_-_The_Guest_List_2015.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:45pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Episode_147_-_Peter_Kuper.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:43pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Episode_146_-_David_Jaher.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:41pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Episode_145_-_Kathe_Koja_and_John_Clute.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:32pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Episode_144_-_Posy_Simmonds.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:32pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Episode_143_-_Jennifer_Hayden_and_Summer_Pierre.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:09pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Episode_142_-_Rupert_Thomson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:11pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Episode_141_-_Francoise_Mouly.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:55pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Episode_140_-_Dylan_Horrocks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:44am EDT

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!

Direct download: Episode_139_-_Derf_Backderf.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:35pm EDT

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 Cartoon Crossroads Columbus series of interviews.

Direct download: Episode_138_-_Bill_Griffith.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:36pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Episode_137_-_Scott_McCloud.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:54pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Episode_136_-_J.D._McClatchy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:45am EDT

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.

Direct download: Episode_135_-_Irvine_Welsh_and_Dmitry_Samarov.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:22pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Episode_134_-_Angel_Lion_Ox_Eagle.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:15pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Episode_133_-_What_If_We_Give_It_Away_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:17pm EDT

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.)

Direct download: Episode_132_-_Rootless_People.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

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.

Direct download: Episode_131_-_Ever_After.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:20pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Episode_130_-_The_Cult_of_Experience_and_the_Tyranny_of_Relevance.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:15pm EDT

Amanda Filipacchi joins the show to discuss her newest novel, The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty: A Novel (WW Norton), her solution to sexism in publishing, her garden-of-forking-paths approach to fiction, and more!

Direct download: Episode_129_-_Donkey_Skin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:04pm EDT

"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.

Direct download: Episode_128_-_Impecunious_Nobles.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:33pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Episode_127_-_The_Meandering_Reflections_of_a_Literary_Sybarite.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:02pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Episode_126_-_People_From_Away.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:04pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Episode_125_-_Signal_Boost.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:02pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Episode_124_-_Dont_Fall.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:21pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Episode_123_-_The_Hidden_Wish_of_Words.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:05pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Episode_122_-_A_Muse_Apart.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Episode_121_-_The_Limits_of_Love.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:08pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Episode_120_-_Laboratory_of_Imagination.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:14pm EDT

Cartoonist Chester Brown joins the show to talk about his life in comics, his history with prostitutes, his evolution into libertarianism, the catharsis of autobiography, and more! Plus, Nina Bunjevac sits in for a performance by the Paying for It Players!

Direct download: Episode_119_-_Paid_In_Full.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:04pm EDT

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

Direct download: Episode_118_-_Table_Talk.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:15pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Episode_117_-_Vernissage.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:26pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Episode_116_-_Magic_City.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:12pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Episode_115_-_Idlers_and_Belgians.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:09pm EDT

Brad Gooch joins the show to talk about his new memoir, Smash Cut, stumbling into a career as a literary biographer, his forthcoming bio of Rumi, the Life-During-Wartime aspect of the AIDS era in New York City, becoming a dad at 63, and the life and love of Howard Brookner.

Direct download: Episode_114_-_Roller_Coaster.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:41am EDT

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!

Direct download: Episode_113_-_Palimpsest.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:16pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Episode_112_-_Remainder.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:45pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Episode_107_-_Silence_in_Translation.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:30pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Episode_106_-_The_Magic_Circle.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:47am EDT

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!

Direct download: Episode_105_-_Sincere_Observation.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:15pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Episode_104_-_It_Came_from_Gen_X.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:07am EDT

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!

Direct download: Episode_103_-_Nostalgia_of_the_Infinite.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:01pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Season_4_Episode_48_-_The_Guest_List_2014.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:59am EDT

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!

Direct download: Season_4_Episode_45_-_Our_Lady_of_Organized_Vituperation.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:42pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Season_4_Episode_42_-_I_Was_a_Teenage_Structuralist.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:51am EDT

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!

Direct download: Season_4_Episode_31_-_Critical_Mass.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Season_4_Episode_12_-_Window_Pain.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:56am EDT

"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.

Direct download: Season_4_Episode_6_-_The_Realm_of_the_Possible.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EDT

"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."
Direct download: Season_4_Episode_5_-_Feeling_Gravetts_Pull.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EDT

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.

Direct download: Season_4_Episode_4_-_Crackers_and_Bagels.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:29pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Season_4_Episode_3_-_The_Consolation_of_Poetry.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:36pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Season_4_Episode_2_-_A_Place_To_Rest.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:20pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Season_4_Episode_1_-_Changing_Channels.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:22pm EDT

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...)

Charles Blackstone
Tampa - Alissa Nutting

Lisa Borders
All This Talk of Love: A Novel - Christopher Castellani

Scott Edelman
The Man from Mars: Ray Palmer's Amazing Pulp Journey - Fred Nadis

Drew Friedman
Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster--the Creators of Superman - Brad Ricca

Kipp Friedman
Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West - Cormac McCarthy

Craig Gidney
A Stranger in Olondria - Sofia Samatar

Ed Hermance
Confronting the Classics: Traditions, Adventures, and Innovations - Mary Beard

Nancy Hightower
The Waking Engine - David Edison
Sea Change - S.M. Wheeler

Jonathan Hyman
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York - Robert Caro

Maxim Jakubowski
The Art of Disappearing - Ivy Pochoda

Ian Kelley
Skagboys - Irvine Welsh

Roger Langridge
Double Barrel - Zander Cannon, Kevin Cannon and Tim Sievert

Phillip Lopate
My Face for the World to See - Alfred Hayes
Contempt - Alberto Moravia

Hooman Majd
After Visiting Friends: A Son's Story - Michael Hainey

Zach Martin
Anna Karenina - Tolstoy

Ron Rosenbaum
The Erotic Poems - Ovid (tr. Green)

David Rothenberg
The Woman Who Lost Her Soul - Bob Shacochis

Willard Spiegelman
All That Is - James Salter
Necessary Errors - Caleb Crain

Peter Trachtenberg
The Patrick Melrose Novels: Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, and Mother's Milk - Edward St. Aubyn
At Last - Edward St. Aubyn

Wallis Wilde-Menozzi
God's Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine - Victoria Sweet

Matt Wuerker
River of Smoke - Amitav Ghosh
Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power - Robert Kaplan

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_32_-_The_Guest_List.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:38pm EDT

"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!

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_31_-_The_Whimsical_Barracuda.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:17pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_30_-_On_Cats_and_Calamities.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:12pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_29_-_War_is_a_Self-Licking_Ice_Cream_Cone.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:55pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_28_-_You_Cant_Get_There_From_Here.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:52am EDT

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!

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_27_-_Sex_Crime_and_Other_Arbitrary_Genre_Labels.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:41pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_26_-_Glamour_Profession.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:18pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_25_-_The_Land_of_the_Big_Sulk.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:07pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_24_-_The_Show_Must_Go_On.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:47am EDT

Author Charles Blackstone drops in to talk about his new novel Vintage Attraction! Along the way, we talk about his managing editor role at Bookslut, what it's like to be married to a Master Sommelier, how deconstruction resembles molecular gastronomy, and more!

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_23_-_Wine_Women_and_Novel-Writing.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:50pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_22_-_The_Least_Insane_of_Cartoonists.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:23pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_21_-_The_Guy_Who_Drew_the_Liver_Spots.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:34pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_20_-_Slipping_the_Noose_of_the_Topical.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:56am EDT

“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!

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_19_-_Great_Vengeance_and_Furious_Anger.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:38pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_18_-_American_Graffiti.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:54pm EDT

I take something that seems obscure, and it leads you to somewhere that is not where you expect.

--David Rothenberg

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.

--Clive Bennett

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.

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_17_-_Arts_and_Sciences_and_Bugs.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:46pm EDT

In Part 2 of our Readercon 2013 special, we talk with authors Theodora Goss, Valya Lupescu and Nancy Hightower about their new books, their writing careers, their literary influences, what Readercon means to them, and more!

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_16_-_Readercon_-_Monsters_Memories_and_Mythmaking.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

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!

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_15_-_Readercon_-_Fairies_and_Zombies.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:36pm EDT

David Gates, author of JerniganPreston 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!

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_14_-_The_Wonders_of_the_Audible_World.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:58pm EDT

Season 3, Episode 13 - Mike and Ivan's Cartoon Cabaret

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!

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_13_-_Mike_and_Ivans_Comics_Cabaret.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:59pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_12_-_Highest_Learning.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:36pm EDT

Lori Carson joins us to talk about her debut novel, The Original 1982 (published by William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins), as well as her time with the Golden Palominos and her solo singer-songwriter career.

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_11_-_Little_Suicides_Little_Fish.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:54pm EDT

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).

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_10_-_Eternity_is_Music_that_Plays.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:06pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_9_-_Putting_the_Pro_in_Profanity.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

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!)

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_8_-_Visible_Cities.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00pm EDT

Craig Gidney discusses his YA novella, Bereft, and Ed Hermance tells us about the history and significance of Giovanni's Room, the oldest operating queer bookstore in America.

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_7_-_The_Importance_of_Being_Out.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:53pm EDT

Season 3, Episode 6 -Cartoon Character

Virtual Memories - season 3 episode 6 - Cartoon Character

"Political cartoonists have it easy: we turn on the TV or computer and Sarah Palin has said some inane thing . . . and the cartoons can write themselves. In the world of cartooning, we're the lazy bastards."

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."

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out our archives for more great talks!

Matt Wuerker on The Virtual Memories Show

Follow The Virtual Memories Show on iTunesFacebookTumblr, and RSS!

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.

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_6_-_Cartoon_Character.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:44pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_5_-_Sound_Before_Story.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:30pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_4_-_Gods_Way_of_Teaching_Americans_Geography.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:03pm EDT

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!

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Direct download: Season_3_Episode_3_-_All_Tomorrows_Parties.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:44pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_2_-_The_Magnificent_Seven.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:54am EDT

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!

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_1_-_Disarm.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:46pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Season_2_Episode_16_-_Not_the_camera_but_the_eye.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:52pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Season_2_Episode_15_-_Hassling_the_Hoff.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:06am EDT

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".

Direct download: Season_2_Episode_14_-_Classic_Pop.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:42pm EDT

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.]

Direct download: Season_2_Episode_13_-_The_Correction_of_Taste.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:08pm EDT

Guest Tom Spurgeon of comicsreporter.com talks about losing half his body weight, gaining perspective, and how junk culture eats itself. This episode is sponsored by Out Of Print Clothing!

Direct download: Season_2_Episode_12_-_Comic_Sans.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:47pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Season_2_Episode_11_-_Fire_and_Bleak_House.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:33pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Season_2_Episode_10_-_Four_Quartets_and_Other_Pilgrimages.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:53am EDT

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.

Direct download: Season_2_Episode_9_-_New_York_and_Old_South.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:41pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Season_2_Episode_8_-_Manga-loids_and_Steampunks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:38pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Season_2_Episode_7_-_Here_at_the_Western_World.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:26pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Season_2_Episode_6_-_My_Old_School.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:17pm EDT

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!

Direct download: Season_2_Episode_5_-_Look_in_Your_Heart.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:51pm EDT

Guest Ann Rivera talks about Housekeeping in the first Secondhand Books conversation.

Direct download: Season_2_Episode_3_-_Good_Housekeeping.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

Host Gil Roth talks about burning libraries, Geoff Dyer, and Norah Jones

Direct download: Season_2_Episode_2_-_Burning_libraries.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

Host Gil Roth talks about Bach, Piers Anthony and the escapism of being a geek.

Direct download: Season_2_Episode_1_-_Pale_horses_at_the_burger_joint.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EDT