Mon, 26 May 2014
"Zweig was immersed in the problem of the disjunction between our grand desires for the kind of life we dream we should be living and the actual circumscribed canvas on which we must operate."
At his peak, Viennese author Stefan Zweig was one of the most widely read authors in the world. How did he and his wife end up a in a double-suicide in a bungalow in Petropolis, Brazil? George Prochnik joins us to talk about his new biography, The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World (Other Press). We discuss the arc of Zweig's exile, why Zweig remains important to our age (both in his writing and in his character), how he lost his belief in the power of bildung, the fleetingness of fame and the accident of survival, the role of education in changing political dynamics, the contemporary revival of Viennese culture, the reason why Zweig fled New York City, and more!
"I think he felt that the more we have to produce official documents to indicate who we are, the more we are reduced to that strip of paper."
We also talk about our respective introductions to Zweig's work, the ways that his final novella may be an allegory for Vienna, the danger of looking for clues to Zweig's suicide in his writing, and how he may have been the inspiration for Woody Allen's Zelig. Give it a listen! Go pick up a copy of The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World! And check out my Zweig-shelf!
Direct download: Season_4_Episode_20_-_Bildung_Stories.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 11:41am EST
Mon, 19 May 2014
Mimi Pond joins the Virtual Memories Show to talk about Over Easy, her 15-years-in-the-making, New York Times bestselling graphic novel about diners, drugs and northern California in the 1970s!
Direct download: Season_4_Episode_19_-_The_Customer_is_Always_Wrong.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:45pm EST
Mon, 12 May 2014
Listen in to part 2 of my conversation with Linn Ullmann about her new novel, The Cold Song (Other Press)! We talk about her writing habits and practices, her favorite Scandinavian authors, how she tweaked the book for its translation into English, and how August Strindberg got revenge on people. We also talk about the lengths she and her husband go to in order to get undisturbed writing time, when she realized she wasn't going to become a ballerina, and how to convey the Norwegian concept of skavank to some zhlub from New Jersey. Bonus: I let her interview me, and boy does THAT go off the rails!
Direct download: Season_4_Episode_18_-_Persona.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 8:25pm EST
Tue, 6 May 2014
In part 1 of our first 2-part episode, Linn Ullmann talks about the influences of her parents -- Liv Ullmann and Ingmar Bergman -- on her storytelling process, her subversion of the "Scandinavian crime novel" in The Cold Song (Other Press), the importance of place in her writing, the perils of overthinking the ground rules for an interview (not ours!), how she transposed a character from The Wire from Baltimore to Norway, and how she managed to convince her book club to tackle Proust. We close out with the topic of Karl Ove Knausgard's work and the ethics of explicitly writing fiction from life (which is where part 2 picks up). Ms. Ullmann's a fascinating writer and this is (this first half of) an illuminating conversation about her work and life. Give it a listen!
Direct download: Season_4_Episode_17_-_Lady_with_a_Dog.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 8:25am EST