The Virtual Memories Show (general)

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