The Virtual Memories Show (general)

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

"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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

"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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

"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 EST

"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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

"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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

“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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST