Mon, 28 December 2015
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!
Sun, 13 December 2015
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!
Sat, 5 December 2015
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!
Mon, 30 November 2015
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!
Tue, 24 November 2015
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!
Mon, 16 November 2015
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
Mon, 9 November 2015
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!
Mon, 2 November 2015
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.
Sun, 25 October 2015
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.
Mon, 19 October 2015
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!
Sat, 10 October 2015
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.
Mon, 5 October 2015
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!
Sun, 27 September 2015
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.
Mon, 21 September 2015
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.
Mon, 14 September 2015
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!
Mon, 7 September 2015
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!
Mon, 31 August 2015
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.)
Mon, 24 August 2015
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.
Mon, 17 August 2015
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
Mon, 10 August 2015
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!
Mon, 3 August 2015
"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.
Mon, 27 July 2015
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
Mon, 20 July 2015
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!
Mon, 13 July 2015
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!
Mon, 6 July 2015
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!
Mon, 29 June 2015
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!
Mon, 15 June 2015
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!
Mon, 8 June 2015
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.
Mon, 1 June 2015
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.
Mon, 18 May 2015
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!
Tue, 12 May 2015
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
Mon, 4 May 2015
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!
Mon, 27 April 2015
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.
Sun, 19 April 2015
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.
Tue, 14 April 2015
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.
Mon, 6 April 2015
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!
Sat, 28 March 2015
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.
Tue, 24 March 2015
Prue Shaw joins the show to talk about Reading Dante: From Here to Eternity. We talk about our favorite parts of the Dante's Commedia, the poem's transformation for her over the decades, Dante's challenge of expressing the inexpressible (especially in Paradiso), the fate of Jews in Dante's afterworld, and the reasons why we all -- poets and non-poets, believers and non-believers -- should be reading Dante.
Direct download: Episode_111_-_Time_Memory_Friendship_Poetry_Art.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 8:11am EST
Tue, 17 March 2015
Witold Rybczynski discusses his newest book, How Architecture Works: A Humanist's Toolkit, and talks about that humanist approach to buildings, the problems with Brutalist architecture, the importance of having a canon of great buildings, the ways that digital technology are changing the practice of architecture, why there's no such thing as a 'theory of architecture', the reasons Philadelphia has such marvelous buildings, what it means to 'review' a building, why the 'Starchitect' phenomenon doesn't make for better buildings, and whether it's possible to improve the appearance of malls
Direct download: Episode_110_-_Thru_These_Architects_Eyes.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 12:08am EST
Mon, 9 March 2015
Walter Kirn joins the show to talk about his latest book, Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade, all about his relationship to fraudster/murderer Clark Rockefeller. And then it gets complicated.
Direct download: Episode_109_-_The_Confidence_Man.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 9:46pm EST
Mon, 2 March 2015
Renowned literary translator Anthea Bell joins the show to talk about getting her start in foreign languages, the schisms in the world of literary translation, the most challenging authors she's worked on, the one language she'd love to learn, and translating everything from Asterix to Zweig!
Direct download: Episode_108_-_From_Asterix_to_Zweig.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 8:53pm EST
Tue, 17 February 2015
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.
Tue, 10 February 2015
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!
Wed, 4 February 2015
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!
Wed, 28 January 2015
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!
Mon, 19 January 2015
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!
Mon, 12 January 2015
Bon vivant Claudia Young joins The Virtual Memories Show to talk about fine dining, songwriting, the Flora-Bama, getting around Vietnam in a wheelchair, and making the most of the time we have.
Direct download: Episode_102_-_The_Sprinter.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:10pm EST
Mon, 5 January 2015
Let's kick off 2015 wtih a conversation with Levi Stahl, editor of The Getaway Car: A Donald Westlake Nonfiction Miscellany!
Direct download: Episode_101_-_Simple_Tricks_and_Nonsense.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:16pm EST