The Virtual Memories Show (general)

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!

iTunesFacebookArchive

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