The Virtual Memories Show

Legendary cartoonist & artist Stan Mack pioneered documentary comics and bought New York's multitudes to life with Stan Mack's Real Life Funnies (RLF) in the Village Voice, and now he joins the show to celebrate the publication of STAN MACK'S REAL LIFE FUNNIES: The Collected Conceits, Delusions, and Hijinks of New Yorkers from 1974 to 1995 (Fantagraphics)! We talk about winnowing down 1,000+ RLF strips to 275 for this book, the comic's secret origin and how we share some Milton Glaser conceptual DNA, what he learned about cartooning and storytelling, the creeping realization that people were actually reading RLF, and how he and the comic grew over 20+ years. We get into whether Real Life Funnies and its snippets of street dialogue could work today when everybody just stares at their phones, how his pre-Voice stint as art director at the New York Herald Tribune made an editor out of him, the moment he realized he was a New Yorker, how he became an activist and used RLF to highlight the squatters' rights movement, the AIDS crisis, and more in NYC, how important the Village Voice was to the city and to America in the '70s and '80s and why we need to bring it out of the pre-digital memory hole (a la DW Young & his new documentary, UNCROPPED), Stan's failure as a backup dancer for Lionel Richie, and a lot more. Follow Stan on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_591_-_Stan_Mack.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:00am EDT

With his amazing new book, Deaths of Artists (Blast Books), archivist Jim Moske explores art, mortality, media, fame and our secret lives. We talk about his chance discovery in the Met Museum's archives of century-old scrapbooks filled with artists' obituaries, his attraction to the obits' tabloid poetry, and how he fell down the rabbit-hole of figuring out the scandalous, redemptive life of their compiler, Arthur D'Hervilly. We get into what these obits — and D'Hervilly's life — can teach us about art and artistic reputation, the challenges of working with 100+-year-old newsprint, the aesthetic pleasure of historical records, and why Jim considered doing this project as a 'zine (just like last week's guest!). We also discuss how he got started as an archivist, his favorite phases of the Met's history, how artists have responded to his book, his archive of illegible historical documents (!), the impact of digitization and electronics on the archivist field, what we lose when materiality goes away, the oblique influence of Bolaño's 2666 on Deaths of Artists, and how D'Hervilly's art-obit collection became a chronicle of the democratization of art. Follow Jim on Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_590_-_Jim_Moske.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:11pm EDT

With his amazing new book, THE WORK OF ART: How Something Comes From Nothing (Penguin Press), hall-of-fame magazine editor Adam Moss explores the artistic process by interviewing more than 40 creators about the evolution of a piece of their art. We talk about the archeology of early drafts and sketches, why he took up painting and how its vexations drove him into making this book, what it's like to tour artists' heads, the creative benefits of "the bounce," the differences between collaborative and solo art-making, and the dizzying iterations of a single artwork by Amy Sillman. We get into where his 40-year magazine editing career began (and where it ended), the process of figuring out how to write and edit his own prose for this project, the incredible design project of bringing The Work Of Art to life as a museum of creativity (& its early life as a 'zine), what happened when he pitched Warren Beatty on this project, and his ongoing attraction to the artifacts of artists in the midst of artworks. We also discuss why I may be the ideal reader for this book, how the introspection of COVID & lockdown influenced The Work Of Art and its subjects, what he learned about interviewing (& which subject intimidated him the most), how he finally learned to stop waiting for a catharsis and learned to take joy in the making of art rather than the finished artwork, and plenty more. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_589_-_Adam_Moss.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:47pm EDT

With WINGING IT: Improv's Power & Peril in the Age of Trump (Spring Publications), author, professor & philanthropist Randy Fertel explores the role of improvisation & spontaneity in the arts, sciences & culture. We talk about what drew him to the conflict between reason and intuition, the importance of "Yes, And" in more than just a comedic context, the neuroscience of Hot and Cold Cognition, and the moment in graduate school that started him down this path 50 years ago. We get into what improvisation really is, how it underlies creativity and innovation, how Trump embodies its dark side, and how his upbringing in New Orleans may have contributed to his improv-epiphany. We also discuss how canonical authors & works began as outsiders, why the essence of improv is disruption, the importance of ego death and unmediated experience (and why he futilely took heroic amounts of hallucinogens to prepare for a conference panel), the relationship of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to his archetypes, his love for Jon Batiste's 2023 Jazz Fest set, his next project exploring the emergence of global pop culture, and a lot more. Follow Randy on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_588_-_Randy_Fertel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:52pm EDT

For more than 40 years, the breathtaking pictures of photographer James Hamilton have chronicled New York City and America (and a couple of war zones), and now the amazing new documentary UNCROPPED (Greenwich Entertainment) by director D.W. Young has launched a rediscovery of James Hamilton's work, life & times. D.W. rejoins the show to talk about how James' career at the NY Herald, Village Voice, and NY Observer opened the door to a a bigger story about NYC, arts/culture and media, how NYC has changed and how the culture adapts, and how young viewers react upon learning about the city's vibrant newspaper & alt-weekly scene that preceded the internet. We get into the difference between empathy & formality in photography, how after D.W.'s previous movie (The Booksellers) he really didn't want to make another NYC film but wound up making the MOST, James' shift from film to digital (and why some of UNCROPPED is shot on film), why sit-down interviews in documentaries get a bad rap but why they can be so valuable, and how Wes Anderson ended up being interviewed in the movie in a largely empty room. Plus we discuss D.W.'s first post-lockdown movie-theater viewings, the relief of making a short narrative film (Dancing on the Silk Razor) in the midst of making Uncropped, what he learned from making The Booksellers (and what he had to unlearn), why it's a travesty that the Village Voice archives aren't digitized, and a lot more. Follow UNCROPPED on Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_587_-_DW_Young.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:23pm EDT

Author-playwright-screenwriter-poet Jen Silverman returns to the show to celebrate their amazing new novel, THERE'S GOING TO BE TROUBLE (Random House). We get into how Jen accidentally stumbled into the 2018 Gilets Jaunes protests in Paris and triggered this new book, the ways we're shaped by our parents' failures and secrets, the many routes of radicalization, and the theatricality of protests, how they draw people in (with a boost from Théâtre du Soleil), and how they contrast with theater itself. We also talk about the role of art in understanding the times, how Jen's stories start with character, their work on Tokyo Vice and how TV writing differs from other storytelling modes, what it means to protest alongside someone whose politics you disagree with, and what the pandemic era has taught them about community. Plus we discuss the nirvana of MacDowell Colony, learning to use research without being beholden to it, ways to be an effective, engaged human (not just engaged/enraged), the contrast between book and theater critics, the existential question of the past few years, and, oh yeah, whether or not people can change. Follow Jen on Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_586_-_Jen_Silverman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:28pm EDT

With Reading Shakespeare Reading Me (Fordham), professor Leonard Barkan blends memoir and deep reading of Shakespeare's greatest plays to explore his lifelong relationship with literature and the way(s) we use art to construct our identities. We get into what it means to read, hear, perform, direct, teach Shakespeare, why it took him a lifetime to get to this book, how he contrasts himself with a radically naive reader (and why it's important to try to capture our naïveté), the gayness of Shakespeare's two Antonios, the many stories he couldn't tell until his folks were gone, and the role Shakespeare played in Leonard's gay coming of age. We also talk about Narcissism vs. Wissenschaft, his next book about the WWII loss of 434 paintings by the Great Masters (!), Cervantes' role as Shakespeare's literary peer, the on-stage therapy session he held at his career-celebration, and his stint as a theater director and what it taught him about teaching. Plus we discuss the strangeness of King Lear's opening scene, the eerie humor of Hamlet, the fraught subject of having kids, the glory & limitations of mimesis, how it felt to see his book The Hungry Eye on a bookshelf in The Bear, the lifelong struggle of living up to his promise, and a lot more. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_585_-_Leonard_Barkan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:30pm EDT

After a ~10-year gap, Emily Raboteau rejoins the show to celebrate her amazing new essay collection, LESSONS FOR SURVIVAL: Mothering Against "The Apocalypse" (Holt). We talk about her sparkbird and the Audubon Mural Project in Washington Heights that center the book, her transformation into a climate activist, the joy of the flaneuse, her scavenger hunt for Justin Brice Guariglia's environmental art, and the idea of pain with a purpose. We also get into the differences between mothering & motherhood, the reason she put "the Apocalypse" in quotes in her subtitle, how COVID lockdown made her realize her kids' lives had been overscheduled (and how lockdown gave them some room to breathe), and the nor'easter-battered book-event in Princeton that corroborated her book's community-thesis. Plus we discuss her dream of interviewing Vivian Gornick, how we need to overcome pandemic-amnesia, the place her children really want to visit, how she's changed as a writer since we last talked, what the difference is between surviving and living, and a lot more. Follow Emily on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_584_-_Emily_Raboteau.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:58am EDT

Photographer and writer Kyle Cassidy and actor and model Trillian Stars join us for a Bonus Episode to talk about their new Kickstarter, THIS IS ONLY EARTH, MY DEAR – POEMS & PHOTOS (closing May 4, 2024)! We get into their inspiration to make a book combining the poems of Pre-Raphaelite muse/model/artist Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal with photos of Trillian (in a Pre-Raphaelite mode), how the project changed once they began shooting in East London, how they found enough costumes for all the photos they wanted to take, why Lizzie Siddal was dismissed by the peers of her husband, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and how modeling and acting overlap and differ (and why Kyle prefers shooting with actors). We also get into what they've learned from nearly a dozen Kickstarters, what stretch goals they're hoping to reach for this one, and why they want to give Lizzie Siddal the book she never got when she was alive. GO PLEDGE, and follow Kyle on LiveJournal (!?) and Instagram, and follow Trillian on Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Bonus_Episode_-_Trillian_Stars_and_Kyle_Cassidy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:42am EDT

At long last, artist Leela Corman joins the show as we celebrate her breathtaking new graphic novel, VICTORY PARADE (Schocken Books)! We talk about how the book brings together the women welders of WWII-era Brooklyn Navy Yards, professional wrestling, and her lifelong obsession with the Shoah, how discovering her watercolor style was like the portal between life and death opening, the art school experience that derailed her, and how the artistic ground start shifting beneath her as she got serious about her comics. We get into her life-defining visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the sacred responsibility of teaching, the influence of New Objectivity (& a bazillion other styles and modes of art & storytelling) on her work, why she brought characters from her earlier GN Unterzakhn into Victory Parade, her twin polestars of Primo Levi & Lisa Carver, and her music-comics collaboration with Thalia Zedek. Plus we discuss the Gen X practice of warts-and-all autobio comics, transgenerational trauma and the next book in her 'Birnbaumiad' triptych, the BS of artist's statements, the revelation of Neko Case's music, and a lot more. Follow Leela on Bluesky and Instagram, and support her work on Patreon • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_583_-_Leela_Corman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:20pm EDT

How did an eBay search lead to the discovery of a lost classic of comics? How can art help us build a better America? Artist and teacher Keith Mayerson joins the show to talk about co-editing the amazing new book, Frank Johnson: Secret Pioneer of American Comics, Vol. 1 (Fantagraphics) and his multi-decade "wordless novel" in paintings, My American Dream (Karma). We get into how Frank Johnson made thousands of pages of comics in private, never published, and may have created the first American comic-book in history, whether he constitutes an Outsider Artist, how his creative legacy contrasts with Henry Darger's, and what it means to make a lifelong body of work with no sense or expectation of a readership. We also get into Keith's My American Dream project, its roots in 9/11 & the GWBush era, how his paintings play off of each other like panels in a comic (and how the curation of art exhibitions is a form of comics), the mash-up of key cultural figures of modern America, his art-subject trinity of James Dean, Elvis, and Keanu Reeves (and his story of meeting Keanu), how My American Dream works to synthesize aspects of Warhol & Rembrandt (& Haring), and the vitality of his painting of Kermit the Frog on a bicycle and the significance of the Muppets in his vision of America. Plus we discuss Keith's art & comics upbringing, the process of building comics programs at SVA and USC, his cult classic queer horror graphic novel with Dennis Cooper, the artistic act of suturing in to his subjects, why the job of art is keeping hope alive, how he felt when he found a parallel, secret history of comics taking place solely in one person's mind, and a lot more. Follow Keith on Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_582_-_Keith_Mayerson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:16pm EDT

Classicist Edith Hall joins the show to talk about her fantastic, important new book, FACING DOWN THE FURIES: Suicide, the Ancient Greeks, and Me (Yale University Press). We talk about the taboo of talking about suicide, how that taboo can lead to transgenerational damage, how that compares to the family curses in Greek tragedies, and what the Tragedians have to teach us about life (and death) today. We get into her grandmother's suicide and her mother's conspiracy of silence around it, her own suicidal ideation and how Heracles Mad helped her through her worst phase, the way Facing Down the Furies sprung from Edith's previous book, Aristotle's Way, the process of researching her family history after her mother's death, and how Philoctetes embodies It Gets Better. We also get into the gender difference of existentialists and the crappy behavior of male philosophers, the gender difference in our readings of Alcestis, why she's Team Iliad (and supports my reading of Achilles' tragedy), the one Greek tragedy that she wishes survived to reach us, and a lot more. Also, I go LONG in the intro about some family stuff that came up in the lead-in to this episode. It should go without saying: content/trigger warning if discussions about suicide are a problem for you. Follow Edith on Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_581_-_Edith_Hall.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:17am EDT

LEAN INTO DEAN! Cartoonist, playwright, schmoozer, etc. Dean Haspiel returns for a Bonus Episode to talk about his new Kickstarter, THE RED HOOK X DEAN HASPIEL (closing March 28, 2024)! We get into why he's making the plunge into Meta-Mem-Noir and bringing Dean Haspiel as a character into his New Brooklyn comics universe, what it's like to be part of the story, and how this podcast is also becoming more autobiographical with each passing week. Plus, we talk about getting old and not being able to stay out all night (even though he tried this weekend), what it's like to treat comics as a reductive art rather than a rendering one, the play Dino's working on, what he's learned from his previous Kickstarter projects, Covid Cop and Billy Dogma and Jane Legit, why he's holding off on reading the finale of Howard Chaykin's Time2 project, and more! Follow Dean on Substack, Instagram and . . . LiveJournal!? • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Bonus_Episode_-_Dean_Haspiel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:12pm EDT

With his brand new collection, THE WEREWOLF AT DUSK and Other Stories (Liveright), David Small brings us a trio of stories about the beast within (that is, within the heart, within the psyche, and within the body politic). We talk about the on-and-off 40-year history of this collection, the themes of transformation and aging that suffuse these stories, and the schism in Leonora Carrington's estate that nearly derailed the whole project. We get into the the challenges of adapting prose fiction into comics, his move from graphic novels (think Stitches and Home After Dark) to short stories, why he's come to love drawing digitally, and just how bad most surrealist fiction can be. We also discuss the decline in kids' books, our respective life changes from 2020's COVID check-in, his Truman Capote kick, how we deal with monstrous artists, how hard he has to work to make his drawings look like they were done in 15 seconds, and a lot more. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_580_-_David_Small.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:53pm EDT

With RADIANT: The Life and Line of Keith Haring (Harper), Brad Gooch brings us the biography of Keith Haring, an artist who transformed public art & the art world in the 1980s and whose work has become part of global culture in the three decades since his untimely death from AIDS. We get into Brad's common threads with Haring, the parallels between this book and his biography of Rumi, how fatherhood helped Brad better understand Haring, and his surprise at discovering what a serious artist Haring was. We talk about why Haring's work makes more sense now than in the '80s, what he would have made of social media, the fire that drove him to make more than 10,000 pieces of art in his decade-plus career, the relationship of Haring to artists of color (among other race issues), where the Radiant Baby image came from, and what the younger gay population doesn't know about the AIDS crisis. We also discuss the incredible memorial of Keith and Howard Brookner at a recent Madonna concert, why 60 is a great age to start having kids, how Instagram reminds him of '80s social life, the parallels between the AIDS crisis and the early months of COVID, what Brad's learned in the course of writing four biographies, why Barbra Streisand's memoir reminds him of Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle (!), and more. Follow Brad on Instagram and listen to our 2015 and 2017 conversations, and check out the Nakamura Keith Haring Collection • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_579_-_Brad_Gooch.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:01pm EDT

No conversation this week, except for our host, Gil Roth, in conversation with some virtual memories of his own! On the occasion of going to the movies for the first time since 2018, to see Wim Wenders’ amazing new film Perfect Days, he reflects on a cusp-of-pandemic trip to Japan. This one’s got Keith Haring & Koji Yakusho, a misplaced fortune, The Tokyo Toilet, an empty parking lot, Country & Western, a special 5K run, a big bag of Kit-Kats, and more, so give it a listen. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_578_-_Japan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:20pm EDT

With his fantastic debut novel, PLASTIC (Pantheon), Scott Guild brings us a dystopian future of eco-terrorism, meta-reality, and . . . a world populated by plastic figurines who break out in song? We talk about the 10-year process of writing the book, how he found the stylistic elements that made it work, and why making the lead characters plastic let him bring comedy into his apocalyptic vision of the future. We get into Scott's history as a musician and how songwriting differs from fiction, the album he made (with all sorts of great artists) to accompany the novel, why he'd love to do live performances of it, and how the songs changed genre from the ones in the novel. We also discuss his writing influences, esp. Kafka & Plath, why he dedicated PLASTIC to his high school English teacher, how he accidentally created his own Barbenheimer (the Barbie movie created a conceptual entry point for readers, but the characters are under the Oppenheimer-esque shadow of a nuclear war), why he didn't show his novel to his wife until 3-4 months before their wedding, whether he played with dolls as a kid (spolier: we both did), who wins in the Dostoevsky-Tolstoy Steel Cage Match, and a lot more. Follow Scott on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_577_-_Scott_Guild.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00pm EDT

What is the meaning of Cleveland? Cartoonist Aaron Lange joins the show to talk about AIN'T IT FUN: Peter Laughner & Proto-Punk In The Secret City (Stone Church Press), his breathtaking new graphic novel that weaves together obscure records, urban legends and psychographic history. We talk about Aaron's fascination with Cleveland's punk scene, why the musician Peter Laughner stood out to him, the way Cleveland's hidden landmarks pointed him toward this massive project. We get into the research and interviews Aaron conducted for Ain't It Fun, the process of editing this work into a looping, flaneur-like, discursive (but never aimless) narrative, and the influence of Greil Marcus' Lipstick Traces, Iain Sinclair's Lud Heat, and Adam Curtis' documentaries. We also discuss post-Laughner Pere Ubu, using graphic design rather than panel-to-panel cartooning, visiting the zodiac circle by the Cleveland Museum of Art at all 4 equinoxes, chronicling the city's brutalist architecture, the constraints of the comics market on a book that defies easy description, and a lot more. Follow Aaron on Instagram and support Stone Church Press via Patreon (which doubles as Aaron's blog) • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_576_-_Aaron_Lange.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:40am EDT

With Marcus Aurelius: The Stoic Emperor (Yale University Press), author & therapist Donald J. Robertson brings us the life and philosophy of the last of the Five Good Emperors. We talk about how knowing the life and travails of Marcus Aurelius helps one understand how to lead a Stoic life, how the Antonine Plague compares with our life in Pandemia, the reasons Donald found modern biographies of Marcus Aurelius wanting, and how this book brought him new understanding of the intricacies of Ancient Roman life and Marcus Aurelius' big decisions. We also get into the role of Stoicism in his own life and how that philosophy's been debased into the unhealthy "lower-case stoicism", the literal toxicity of being a tough guy, how Stoicism and its nuanced view of emotions inspired modern Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, why the psychotherapy field is resistant to acknowledging Stoicism's contribution, and why Freudians really disapprove (think symptom substitution). We discuss the importance of building emotional resilience and understanding one's value judgements, Robert Burns' role as a gateway drugs to Stoicism, the alternate history in which Socrates was part of Christian tradition, Donald's Eureka! moment and how he accidentally became a writer, how Wilko Johnson can help me live a fuller mortal life, and a lot more. Follow Donald on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and subscribe to his Substack and his podcast • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_575_-_Donald_J_Robertson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:46am EDT

With her incredible new book, THE FURIES: Women, Vengeance, & Justice (Harper), journalist Elizabeth Flock explores the lives of three women who responded to violence with violence, and how they run up against the social institutions that seem designed to grind them down. We get into how the book grew from her interest in female vigilantes and her own experience of sexual violence, how she wound up reporting on the YPJ all-women army in Syria (but didn't tell her mom until a few days before flying out there), how we try to reconcile revenge and a just world, and how cultures of honor wreak havoc on women and men. We talk about how she balanced reporting with the near-mythic characters of some of her subjects, what she's learned over 15+ years in journalism (including how not to re-traumatize her subjects as they tell her their stories), the mind-body connection & how wrecked her body got by the time she finished writing this book, and how she went into this book starry-eyed and came away with a muddied picture. And we discuss how flexible podcasts are for journalistic storytelling, how women and men have responded to The Furies, what it was like reporting during the pandemic, guns & gun culture (& my embarrassing gun story), that time her dad took her to a murder scene when she was a kid (tbf, he was a journalist), having her first child a few months ago, whether things are getting a little better for women, and a lot more. Follow Liz on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_574_-_Elizabeth_Flock.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:52pm EDT

Hey! Anything good on TV? No? Then listen to legendary film critic David Thomson as we discuss his amazing new book, REMOTELY: Travels in the Binge of TV (Yale University Press)! David & I get into how TV has changed and how it's changed us, the communal experience of going to the movies vs. sitting on the sofa, the ways his relationship with his wife deepened in front of the tube during lockdown (and why he gave her some of the best lines in Remotely), and the personal, political, & social implications of watching crap over a long period of time. We talk about falling into the stream of streaming, how advertising was the snake in American TV's garden, BBC's very strange exception for its licence fee, the courage in actually writing about what he's watching (even though Remotely isn't a critical guide), and what made Ozark special to him. We also discuss Clive James' transformation of TV criticism, the end of a golden age of TV, the importance of live sports events, the joy of seeing Barbie in a packed theater, how everything points to a world where no one is in charge, and a lot more. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_573_-_David_Thomson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:40am EDT

With his graphic novel, BLOOD OF THE VIRGIN (Pantheon), Sammy Harkham tells a story of personal and professional disintegration, against the backdrop of exploitation movies and the Iraqi Jewish diaspora in '70s L.A. We get into the obsessions and family lore that drove him to make the book, why it took him 14 years to complete it, what it means to focus on the 'novel' part of 'graphic novel', and how craft is always trying to catch up to ambition. We talk about the need to get past the cliches of the 'inside Hollywood' story, what he learned about his process over the course of making this book, why he didn't read the earlier chapters until he finished the story, and the John Steinbeck advice that got him over the finish line. We also discuss his comics upbringing, his thoughts on the late Joe Matt, the Jim Woodring panels that have haunted him for decades, the joyful anxiety of not knowing what his next project will be, and a lot more. Follow Sammy on Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_572_-_Sammy_Harkham.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:26pm EDT

The great cartoonist and humorist Ed Subitzky gets his long-delayed due with the new collection, POOR HELPLESS COMICS! (New York Review Comics). We talk about Ed's amazing career at National Lampoon, how he developed his "can't draw' style after taking a cartooning class with RO Blechman & Charles Slackman A DOZEN TIMES, how the Rapidograph became his Excalibur, and why this collection includes some of his favorite prose pieces alongside all the comics. We get into how he began experimenting with the form & structure of comics, his lifelong curiosities for science and philosophy and how he wound up getting published in the Journal of Consciousness Studies, his longtime career writing direct marketing pieces, and how it took preparing this book and looking back at his work for him to realize his comics were really funny. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_571_-_Ed_Subitzky.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:05am EDT

Did you make a 2024 resolution to put down your phone? This week's guest might make you rethink that! Chris Silverman has been making gorgeous, weird, haunting artwork daily for more than 2 years, using only his iPhone's Notes app and his fingertips. We get into how #notesArt began, how it's evolved, what his drawing process is like, what it's been like to build an audience for his art, and how viewers bring their own meanings to his #notesArt. We talk about the challenges of keeping up a regular art practice (daily!), how upgrading to iOS17 jump-started his new creative phase, the artists and cartoonists who influence him, whether Undo is his friend or enemy, his fascination with traffic lights, empty buildings, and masks, and the subconscious burbling that gives birth to the images he draws. We also share our thoughts on mortality, authenticity and identity, what it means to share your art with the world, the pressure that comes when someone is watching, and a lot more! Follow Chris & #notesArt on Instagram, Mastodon, Glass, and at notes.art • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_570_-_Chris_Silverman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:29pm EDT

Our host, Gil Roth, closes out 2023 with the story of a week of transformations! This one's got a Yom Kippur fast gone trippy, and a bathroom-door-induced concussion, a lightning-bolt realization about grief and mourning, a secret mission at a comics festival in Ohio, the Book of Life & the books of the dying, a pharma conference, crying eyes and deaf ears and a mess of signs & portents, plus a dwarf, a salamander, David Koechner and a lot more. But seriously, it's about coming to terms with the loss of a dear friend, and what it means to know you're not alone, so give it a listen. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our newsletter

Direct download: Episode_569_-_Silence.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:21pm EDT

Seventeen of this year's Virtual Memories Show guests tell us about the favorite books they read in 2023 and the books they hope to get to in 2024! Guests include Ho Che Anderson, Josh Bayer, Howard Fishman, Priscilla Gilman, Bill Griffith, Dean Haspiel, Sara Lippmann, Patrick McDonnell, James McMullan, Lisa Morton, Jonathan Papernick, Andrew Porter, Dawn Raffel, Paul B. Rainey, Peter Rostovsky, Scott Samuelson, and Karl Stevens (+ me)! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and by subscribing to our Substack

Direct download: Episode_568_-_The_Guest_List_2023.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:32pm EDT

For the last guest-episode of 2023, art critic Jarrett Earnest joins me to celebrate his beautiful new book, VALID UNTIL SUNSET (Matte Editions), which brings together his Polaroids and a second-person narrative to create a bewitching trip through memory, art, grief, friendship, and more. We talk about how the sudden death of his father paralyzed and then catalyzed him, the importance of making art before fully recovering from a bad experience, how the artist's job is to be a question mark, and how a Nan Goldin exhibition started him on taking pictures of the people and places that mattered to him. We get into his friendships with Genesis P-Orridge and Peter Schjeldahl, and Genesis' imprecation to do/make/be the Most Fabulous Imaginable Version, the importance of road trips and pilgrimages, what he learned from interviewing a series of art critics, the freedom & addictiveness of writing in the second person, why we need to make an argument about why any art matters at all today, and why he loves writing about artists he knows. Plus, we discuss the value of public-facing life in NYC, how it felt to perform selections from Valid Until Sunset, how he thinks of writing in terms of shape, the importance of having a really good analyst and really dumb personal trainer, why you don't need to be part of Barbenheimer, and a lot more. Follow Jarrett on Instagram and subscribe to his Substack • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_567_-_Jarrett_Earnest.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:46pm EDT

With his new book, ZERO AT THE BONE: Fifty Entries Against Despair (FSG), Christian Wiman fuses essay, poem, memoir and anthology in a singular work that explores how the act of writing a poem is a gesture of faith. We talk about the varieties of despair and joy, the question of whether the world is chaos or has order, and whether the relationship between art and life is a tension or an actual antipathy (as Henry James would have it). We also get into the urgency of mortality and the rare cancer that almost killed Christian on three separate occasions (including this year), the notion of having a calling and the difference between given and earned callings, who we're really trying to reach when we write a poem, whether Philip Larkin's Aubade is a poem of pure despair, how literature has taken the place of sacred texts, and what he's learned from teaching at Yale Divinity School. We also discuss The Void & how to tune it out, his thoughts on faith and Christ and how the incarnation of God in Jesus sacralizes the physical world, where poetry began for him, whether joy is passed down epigenetically like trauma (allegedly) is, what it's like having a Ninja Blender for a brain, coming around on poets in translation like Yehuda Amichai, the meaning of existence, and a lot more (I mean, if you can have a lot more after the meaning of existence). More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_566_-_Christian_Wiman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:48pm EDT

With the 60th anniversary of the assassinations of JFK & Lee Harvey Oswald, Danny Fingeroth brings us the new biography, JACK RUBY: The Many Faces of Oswald's Assassin (Chicago Review Press). Danny & I talk about what drew him to tell Ruby's story, how many JFK conspiracy rabbit-holes he had to avoid, the challenges of separating Ruby's life from myth & speculation, and how the bio began as a graphic novel collaboration with Rick Geary (!) before its prose incarnation (although he's still hoping for an adaptation). We get into what he learned from talking to Ruby's rabbi, Hillel Silverstein, the figures he would have loved to interview for this book, what Ruby's siblings & their kids went through in the aftermath of Jack's moment of infamy, the circus of Ruby's murder trial and Melvin Belli's failed epilepsy defense, and the danger of treating Ruby's life like a sitcom. We also discuss Danny's dizzying résumé, including his 20-year run as a writer & editor at Marvel Comics, discovering himself as a biographer with Stan Lee: A Marvelous Life, the complexity of the (working) relationships of Lee, Jack Kirby & Steve Ditko, the surreal of experience of meeting Gabe Kaplan while promoting JACK RUBY, and more! Follow Danny on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Bluesky • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_565_-_Danny_Fingeroth.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:11pm EDT

With The Nib, cartoonist & editor Matt Bors helped build an online (and print!) venue for political satire, graphic journalism and non-fiction comics that featured some of the best names in comics and gave space to a bazillion up-and-comers. Matt & I sat down during CXC to talk about his decision to close down The Nib after 10 years, how it felt to bring together the best political cartoonists under a single online umbrella, how tech money giveth and taketh away, and what this fall's farewell tour means to him. We get into what comes after The Nib (like Justice Warriors comic), how it felt to see one of his comics displayed on the floor of the House of Representatives, the challenges & rewards of building a diverse roster of cartoonists, why he always wanted a print companion of The Nib, and how mainstream comics and dystopian science fiction have always held an appeal for him (and why he'd love to do more with his Wasteland characters). We also discuss how it feels to have traded America for Canada and how the move has changed his perspective, the ways his post-Nib self spends less time getting mad online, how he plans to catch up on all the comics he's missed in the last decade, what it's like having his first two-week stretch as an adult without immediate editorial deadlines, and more! Follow Matt on BlueSky, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_564_-_Matt_Bors.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:43pm EDT

With his new collection, A YEAR AND A DAY: AN EXPERIMENT IN ESSAYS (NYRB), master essayist Phillip Lopate explores the world & himself through the mode of a weekly blog. We get into how he adapted to a short, time-constrained essay form for The American Scholar, how he avoided The Columnist's Curse (limitless curiosity helps!), whether an essayist can truly write about anything, and how he has and hasn't changed since the 2016-17 period in which he wrote these pieces. We talk about Phillip's integration of the private and public self in his writing, how his wife & daughter felt about being included in this book, the question of whether he's fulfilled as a writer, why he hides his journal, and how editing the three Great American Essay collections allowed him to leave something canonical behind for students & readers. We also discuss how it feels when readers thinking they know him from his essays, how his books and essays add up to a fragmentary, lifelong memoir (and why he'll likely never write an actual memoir or autobiography), why his multiple myeloma diagnosis was more of a psychological hit than a physical one, how he found himself working on a biography of Washington Irving, the benefits of a fragmentary unitary self, the career validation of being inducted into theAmerican Academy of Arts & Letters, and a LOT more. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_563_-_Phillip_Lopate.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:37pm EDT

With her wonderful, hilarious & heartfelt new graphic novel, Brooklyn's Last Secret (Drawn & Quarterly), cartoonist Leslie Stein brings us the story of Major Threat, a getting-over-the-hill indy band on tour. During SPX 2023, we talked about how she mined the raw material of her own rock & roll tour experiences (and those of her friends) to make a comedy about touring life, why she started it during COVID lockdown in 2020, and how serializing it on Instagram served as an antidote to doomscrolling. We got into the evolution of her cartooning style and how she finds new modes to work in, the expectations vs. the reality of artistic life, the experience of going viral with a comic about Nirvana T-shirts (and her time playing in a Nirvana cover band). We also discussed going back to cons & festivals, why it's important to be an entertaining panelist, the role of music in art-making, why it's best not to open up emotionally to your bandmates when on tour, and more. Follow Leslie on Instagram and go buy some of her original pages • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_562_-_Leslie_Stein.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:44am EDT

With his new graphic novel/memoir, UNENDED (Uncivilized Books), cartoonist Josh Bayer explores family trauma, memory, art, and more. We get into how Josh spent five years trying to adapt his late father's unfinished play into a comic, the ways it did & didn't help him come to terms with his father's life and his mother's death, and why he blurs out his character's face on the page. We talk about the punk rock inspiration in his writing and art, the systems he uses to pull him out of storytelling morasses and how he learned to teach them to his students, learning to cope with his ADD (and wondering whether I have it too), studying at SVA in his 30s, and why he pursued comics over fine art. We also discuss mental health and treatment and how we deal with our father-issues, Josh's recent stint working at Carol Tyler's Ink Farm, the impact of the Masters of 20th Century Comics exhibition on his career, why it's tough to be Rollins, the question of whether he's forgiven his dad, and a lot more. Follow Josh on Facebook and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_561_-_Josh_Bayer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:41am EDT

With The Secret Life of John le Carré (Harper), Adam Sisman reveals the secrets he couldn't publish in 2015's John le Carré: The Biography, and explores how serial deception & betrayals — through the multiple affairs le Carré (a.k.a. David Cornwell) conducted during both of his marriages — can provide a key to understanding the late, great spy novelist. We get into how Adam became a combo detective-psychoanalyst-confessor during his work on the biography, how he learned of le Carré's messy private life, why he decided to wait until after the author and his wife had died before publishing this new book, and whether he felt le Carré was manipulating him during their interviews. We talk about le Carré's monumental achievements chronicling the Cold War and Britain's decline (& his top 3 le Carré novels), the man's undeniable charm & his self-mythologizing, the times when he thought the biography might not happen, how he felt when le Carré published a memoir after Adam's biography came out, and the ways in which le Carré's upbringing — abandoned by his mother, reared by a con man father he struggled to escape from — may have contributed to his devotion to duplicity & seduction. We also discuss the moment Adam realized that biography is a human process, his thoughts on the new Errol Morris documentary with le Carré, the limits of interviews in general (NO!), what it means to put le Carré behind him with this new book, and plenty more. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_560_-_Adam_Sisman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:49pm EDT

Let's celebrate spooky season with The Art of the Zombie Movie (Applause Books)! Author Lisa Morton & I talk about her new book and the fun of researching the history of zombies in pop culture and folklore, the challenge & joy of assembling the 500 illustrations in the book (including one-sheets, stills, alternative art, and more), and how she got messed up at an early age by Dawn Of The Dead. We get into her history of horror (it was all over once she saw The Exorcist), how she found herself as a writer and wound up with 6 Bram Stoker Awards®, her take on fast vs. slow zombies, and what she found researching the George Romero papers at UPitt. We also discuss her experience as a bookseller in Los Angeles (go, Iliad Bookshop!), getting her heart broken by screenwriting, her work to bring the classic Fantasmagoriana anthology to a new reading public, and a lot more. Follow Lisa on Instagram, Facebook and Substack • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_559_-_Lisa_Morton.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:49am EDT

With MONICA (Fantagraphics), legendary cartoonist Daniel Clowes has pushed the limits of his storytelling and art to make one of the great graphic novels of the decade. We sat down during CXC weekend to talk about this amazing, haunting, hilarious book and how it grew out of his attempts at trying to figure out his childhood, the ways in which MONICA is haunted by the deaths of cartoonists Richard Sala and Gary Leib (oh, and those of Daniel's brother and mom), what art, community and mortality have come to mean to him, and how certain panels took him 5 years to draw. We get into what he's learned from using multiple genres within a single book, the artists who influenced him and the ones he had to escape, the 7-year gap from his previous book, PATIENCE, and what's changed, and his late-stage depression at finishing MONICA. We also discuss how he was always awaiting the shift from pamphlet-comics to hardcover original books, how thankful he was to not be good enough to get work at Marvel or DC in his youth, what it's like writing and drawing his books without any editorial input, his only takeaway from writing for movies, the Americanness of his comics, why he prefers drawing over writing even though A) he's a really good writer and B) would never draw from someone else's script, the only advice he would ever give young artists, and a lot more. Follow Daniel (sorta) on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_558_-_Daniel_Clowes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:09pm EDT

With her fantastic new biography, Betty Friedan: Magnificent Disrupter (Yale University Press), Rachel Shteir sheds light on a key figure in the women's rights movement. We get into how Friedan's The Feminine Mystique is being erased or glossed over by contemporary writing about women, how the 50th anniversary of TFM sparked this biography, the challenge of balancing Friedan with her work and threading her life and the massive shift in women's rights she helped cause. We talk about Friedan's involvement in Esalen & Human Potential Movement and how it influenced her later work, why knowing her midwestern family upbringing is key to understanding her choices (good and bad), the battle between equal rights and sexual politics and how feminism got away from her, the intersection of Judaism and feminism, and how Friedan began to recognize her mistakes and try to correct for them over time. We also discuss how "What Would Betty Do?" in relation to today's politics and the Me Too movement (potentially not well), how Rachel finds synergies between biography and dramaturgy, and a lot more. Follow Rachel on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_557_-_Rachel_Shteir.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:05pm EDT

What's it like to put out books with Jack Kirby and the Dalai Lama in the same year? Legendary cartoonist & artist Patrick McDonnell rejoins the show to talk about his amazing new books THE SUPER HERO'S JOURNEY (Abrams ComicArts), his collaboration with the Dalai Lama, HEART TO HEART (Harper One), and more! We get into the secret origin of The Super Hero's Journey, the joy of getting to play with the comic-book characters of his youth and remix 1960s panels & pages with his own art & story, how he made a spiritual book disguised as a Marvel comic, and why the best art is when your mind is not involved. We also talk about the making of Heart To Heart, Patrick's combination of minimal (but gorgeous) art with the Dalai Lama's words to tell a story of ecological survival, getting to meet the Dalai Lama in Dharmshala (& finding some bliss), and the struggle of drawing a cartoon version of His Holiness and his small nose. Plus we discuss the approaching 30th anniversary of his MUTTS comic-strip and how Patrick keeps finding inspiration & fun in making it, how making books and paintings allows him to flex and play with his art, the ways making a comic strip parallels making haiku, the experience of showing his paintings at a big exhibition at OSU in 2021, and how purposefulness suffuses Patrick's art & life. Follow Patrick & Mutts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (here's Patrick's Instagram) • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_556_-_Patrick_McDonnell.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:59pm EDT

How did the writers' strike get Keith Knight to finish his long-awaited graphic memoir, I WAS A TEENAGE MICHAEL JACKSON IMPERSONATOR (Keith Knight Press)? Find out in our conversation at SPX about his fantastic new book, chronicling Keith's 18 months as an MJ impersonator in the mid-'80s! We get into how he found himself by being someone else, what he learned about audiences and the business of entertainment, the role music has played in his life, his favorite MJ song, why Off The Wall is better than Thriller, and how Janet Jackson was the lucky one, all things considered. We also talk about Keith's experience writing and producing two seasons of WOKE on Hulu (sadly cancelled), how he got involved in every aspect of making that show, what he learned about storytelling in the writers' room, and what he wants to bring to his next TV project. Plus we discuss why comics are the ultimate DIY art form, the differing modes of audience-artist interaction from comics to TV to slideshow lectures to MJ performances, how deadlines can be your friend, why Stevie Wonder may have the best three-album run of anyone in music history, and a LOT more. Follow Keith on Twitter and Instagram, and support his Patreon (& go listen to our 2015 and 2020 conversations!) • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_555_-_Keith_Knight.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:57pm EDT

Ten years can be a lifetime (or two or three): Brett Martin returns to the show to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his book DIFFICULT MEN: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution (Penguin), and we talk about how the TV landscape — prestige & otherwise — has changed in the past decade, how it felt to revisit the book 10 years later, and why this anniversary was more startling than his turning 50. We get into how Difficult Men was lauded for its criticism and analysis at the time but now shines for its reporting and character studies, how the explosion of prestige TV was unsustainable but led to amazing shows, how the #metoo movement intersected with male-dominated writers' rooms (and which show-creators in Difficult Men looked bad 10 years ago & worse now), and his feelings about the writers' and actors' strikes. We also discuss Brett's writing career, what food media really talks about, his reporting on the history (& racial complexities) of Preservation Hall, what he's learned about interviewing, why he's crushed by the retirement of Bartolo Colon, what our favorite eras of M*A*S*H are, why he's enjoying the heck out of Inkmaster and the new Night Court, and a lot more. Follow Brett on Twitter, Bluesky and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_554_-_Brett_Martin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:53am EDT

How did a hangover in 2015 lead to an award-winning debut graphic novel in 2023? Find out as Peter Rostovsky joins the show to celebrate the release of DAMNATION DIARIES (Uncivilized Books)! We get into the origins of his gorgeously & grotesquely drawn social satire about Hell (& Hell's therapist, Fred Greenberg), what he had to learn about comics in the process of making his first one, how comics allowed him to wed his polemical nature to a deeply personal story, and why his version of Hell bears an awful lot of similarities to life in NYC. We also talk about what it was like emigrating from Russia to the Bronx as a 10-year-old kid in 1980, how comics helped him learn English, his strategies for blending in as a teen, and how he found redemption & maximalism in heavy metal. And we discuss his history in the worlds of fine art, art theory, internet utopianism, and teaching International Art English, the time he broke up a fight between a sculptor and a painter, whether AI is a McLuhan-esque 'prosthesis' for art, his mother's recent death and how he feels about rendering her in Hell in Damnation Diaries, why I think he needs to write about his occasional childhood exile in a garden in the Hermitage, how giving up his solo studio and joining Dean Haspiel & others in Studio CLOACA gave him a community, and more. Follow Peter on Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_553_-_Peter_Rostovsky.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:43am EDT

Legendary cartoonist Bill Griffith returns to celebrate his fantastic new book, THREE ROCKS: The Story of Ernie Bushmiller, The Man Who Created NANCY (Abrams ComicArts). We get into his lifelong history with NANCY, how that strip was like a lesson in what comics are, the time he brought his Zippy The Pinhead into Bushmillerland, why Bushmiller and Crumb are the only two cartoonists whose work gives him 100% pleasure (and don't inspire criticism or jealousy), how the idea for Three Rocks percolated for a few decades until he read Paul Karasik & Mark Newgarden's book HOW TO READ NANCY, and why he decided not to draw Bushmiller's characters in his book (he collages existing Nancy, Sluggo, & Fritzi art instead). We also discuss how many of his cartooning students have never read NANCY but still wear T-shirts with her face (& trademark spiky hair), the problems younger cartoonists have with continuity in storytelling, and what he's learned from teaching. And then we talk about the death of Bill's wife, the great underground cartoonist Diane Noomin, and how he's gotten by in the year since. We get into the new comic Bill made about (& with) Diane, The Buildings Are Barking (Fantagraphics/FU), how he still hears her voice, what it's like to work on a new book without the person who read every panel of his for 49 years, keeping Zippy going while grieving, how having a daily strip all this time seems to have immunized him from anniversaries, the ferry ride he & Diane used to share, how the death of Aline Kominsky-Crumb two months after Diane's brought him and Robert Crumb closer, and more. Sign up for Bill's daily Zippy e-mail, and listen to our 2015 and 2019 conversations • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_552_-_Bill_Griffith.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:14am EDT

"The word is far more real than the world": Jerome Charyn rejoins the show to celebrate his new novel, RAVAGE & SON (Bellevue Literary Press), a fantastic noir about the Lower East Side in 1913. We talk about his love for the LES and the Bintel Briefs in The Forward, why he wanted to write a Jewish Jekyll & Hyde story, and how adopting a cat changed the course of this amazing novel. We also get into life on the page, the music of the sentence, and the self-revelation of writing, why so many of his characters attend Harvard, the holiness of books and why he reads so little of others' books nowadays, treating writing as an apprenticeship rather than a career, and how he got overwhelmed for a year after writing in Abe Lincoln's voice. Plus we discuss his reverence of Joyce Carol Oates and Cormac McCarthy (and ambivalence toward Henry James, who makes an appearance in Ravage & Son), the reason so many of his characters attend Harvard, the sense of being transported by the ballet performances of Allegra Kent, how it felt to write a character who's in love with destruction, why gender fluidity is essential to human nature, and the one advantage to living long enough: understanding that nothing remains and everything disappears. Follow Jerome on Twitter, and listen to our 2019, 2021, and 2022 conversations • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_551_-_Jerome_Charyn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:14pm EDT

With the release of IN DEFENSE OF LOVE: An Argument (Doubleday), Ron Rosenbaum offers up a series of essays to save love from scientizers, extremists, the jaded, and anyone else who doubts whether Amor Vincit Omnia. We get into why love needs a defense and how it's not reducible to chemical surges on an fMRI scan, the overwhelming emotion of Linda Ronstadt's Long Long Time, the beauty of Philip Larkin's poem An Arundel Tomb and why Larkin may have been embarrassed by the honesty of its last line ("What will survive of us is love."), and the ways bullshit science can lead people ridiculously astray. We talk about seeing Tolstoy in the light of his late novellas, in which he puts forth an extinction agenda and wants to end human reproduction, the first and last times Ron fell in love, why he included a closing chapter on his own experiences of love & regret, whether dangerous passion outweighs a moderate marriage, and whether one can write about human nature without having a fully human nature. Plus, we talk about Ron's writing career, his arrival during the late days of magazines' golden age, how he discovered his superpower of close reading, why America's greatest love poems come from country music, and a lot more. Follow Ron on Twitter and listen to our 2013 and 2014 conversations • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_550_-_Ron_Rosenbaum.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:51pm EDT

With MOTHER NATURE (Titan Comics), artist Karl Stevens adapts a graphic novel from an eco-horror screenplay by Oscar™-winner Jamie Lee Curtis & Russell Goldman. We get into how he wound up collaborating with JLC, the challenges in adapting a screenplay into comics and how it was sort of like directing his own movie, how he discovered his affinity for horror, and how nervous he was to show Jamie Lee his drawings of the character who's modeled after her. We also discuss comics-making & graphomania, the long-lost comic shops & record stores of Northampton, MA, his drive to make it onto the cover of The New Yorker, and why he's used the same pen nib for the last 30 years. Plus, we talk about the challenges and moving parts in making a biography of his father (and his dad's insane Vietnam draft experience), how his family history goes back to the 1720s pre-America, the Artist's Editions volumes he's been collecting lately, why his favorite era of Jack Kirby was the '70s, and of course, running. Follow Karl on Twitter, and Instagram, support his Patreon, and find out more about his work at his Linktree (and listen to our past conversations: 2019, 2020, & 2021) • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_549_-_Karl_Stevens.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:38pm EDT

Writer, musician and composer Howard Fishman joins the show to celebrate his amazing new book, TO ANYONE WHO EVER ASKS: The Life, Music and Mystery of Connie Converse (Dutton). We get into how he discovered the music of the enigmatic Connie Converse, when he realized her life was a rabbit hole that would take more than a decade to delve through, what it was like to write a biography around the gaps in her life, and the sheer amount of chance, happenstance, and miraculous occurrences that led to this book. We talk about how Connie Converse arose as a singer-songwriter in 1950s NYC (maybe) just a few years ahead of her time, her subsequent role as a public intellectual and progressive activist, her Cassandra-like nature, the analytical mind she brought to music, policy, and every other topic in her life, and how she vanished without a trace in the mid-'70s. We also discuss his time as a research assistant for NYT editor Arthur Gelb, how his idea of artistic legacy changed in light of learning Connie Converse's story, the relationship between artist and audience (and the Cat Stevens story that first brought him to my attention), what it means to renounce one's art, how he tried to do justice to the Connie Converse story, and a lot more. Follow Howard on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Bandcamp • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_548_-_Howard_Fishman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:28pm EDT

During Readercon weekend, Christopher Brown rejoined the show for our first conversation since the 2020 release of his novel Failed State. We talk about the nonfiction project he's working on, tentatively titled THE SECRET HISTORY OF EMPTY LOTS, the surprising reach of his FIELD NOTES weekly newsletter, tribes' creation myths and how they manage to justify dominion over the land, why the outdoors is one of America's most segregated spaces, and why he thinks calling Washington, DC "The Swamp" is an insult to swamps. We get into the differences and similarities between his fiction and nature writing, the impact of Tesla and the Gigafactory on life in/around Austin, TX (esp. for its neighbors in unincorporated land), the tensions of child-rearing at a time of ecological disaster, what it means to read science fiction through nature-lens (esp. Annihilation and Neuromancer), the natural world's response to COVID lockdowns and capital's post-COVID snapback, and what it was like to vacation in South Padre Island, TX during the hottest week in history. Plus, we discuss the fun of coming back to Readercon, the old semi-hip days of psychogeography, our backup plans to bug out of the failed state, and plenty more. (And go listen to our past talks: 2018, 2019, 2020 + COVID Check-In) Follow Chris on Twitter, Bluesky and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_547_-_Christopher_Brown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:09am EDT

Writer, graphic designer, typographer, illustrator, comics writer/artist, and photographer Rian Hughes rejoins the show to celebrate the US release of his fantastic novel, The Black Locomotive (Pan Macmillan). We talk about how he wanted to follow up 2020's XX with something more plot-driven & less philosophical and wound up celebrating his love affair with London while getting in touch with his inner JG Ballard. We get into his integration of prose, typography, and graphic design in the new book, what he's learned about writing (and the new novel he's working on), the nature of font-design (and the real difference between sans-serif & serif fonts), and what he thinks about AI image-generation and its impact on creative fields (and what it says about popular tastes). We also discuss Rayguns & Rocketships, the recent book of his collection of vintage science fiction book cover art, the collector impulse and how to short-circuit it, the fun of writing the song for a fictional club of train aficionados & having his sister set it to music (and then hearing it remixed by Scott Hoffman), his fear of accidentally kicking off a flamewar among stream-train enthusiasts, and a LOT more. Follow Rian on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_546_-_Rian_Hughes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:20pm EDT

With the publication of The Second Fake Death of Eddie Campbell (Top Shelf), the great cartoonist Eddie Campbell brings his decades-long autobiographical comics project into the COVID era. In this return conversation (go listen to our 2018 episode & our 2020 COVID check-in) we talk about the meta-narratives that haunt his books, the culture of masks that prompted his latest work, how it felt getting back to making long-form comics again, and whose idea it was to publish this one like an Ace Double along with the revised version of The Fate Of The Artist. We also get into how he learned to make art with computers and how that learning curve accelerated when he was making the color version of From Hell, the temptation to revise past work, why his last two major autobio books involve his fictional death, and a lot more. Follow Eddie on Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_545_-_Eddie_Campbell.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:54am EDT

No show this week, but here's a bonus episode with my impromptu speech at the remembrance/memorial for the late Michael Denneny, recorded June 19, 2023. Michael & I were supposed to record a podcast on April 15 about his collection, On Christopher Street (U of Chicago), but he was dead when I arrived at his apartment. I recorded a wrenching monologue about that discovery the next day, and a followup a week later, so this piece serves as a sort of coda to that, and a celebration of all Michael meant to the literary and gay communities. We'll be back next week.

Direct download: Bonus_Episode_-_Remembering_Michael_Denneny.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:49am EDT

Investigative journalist & longtime pal Mitchell Prothero joins the show to talk about his new podcast, GATEWAY: Cocaine, Murder, and Dirty Money in Europe (Project Brazen). We get into how the project evolved from his reporting on the global war on terror, how the cocaine trade mirrors the globalization wave, how Colombia's piece deal led to mega-cartel consolidation, why his EU law enforcement sources did not want to talk about the cocaine trade, and whether the Netherlands trial of drug kingpin Ridouan Taghi reveals cracks in the security of the state itself. We also talk about the differences between writing for a podcast vs. writing for readers (like his reporting at Vice News), the strains of scheduling interviews with people under security detail, the changes in the media landscape over the course of his career, and his path through journalism, covering our days together in Annapolis to his time as a Capitol Hill reporter to stints in Afghanistan, Iraq, Serbia, and beyond. And we discuss how living and reporting in Baltimore in the 1990s prepared him for pretty much any scenario he's encountered since. Follow Mitch on Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_544_-_Mitchell_Prothero.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:24am EDT

With his new memoir, GOODBYE TO CLOCKS TICKING: How We Live While Dying (Steerforth), writer and professor Joseph Monninger writes through the experience of a stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis, delivered only 3 days into his retirement in 2021. We talk about how he's navigating life on borrowed time (& the drug that's miraculously loaning him that time), his notion of legacy and how it plays out in his books and his students, and what he's learned about impatience and regret. We get into the books that brought him solace, the comforts of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, how Wilder's Our Town inspired the memoir's title, and his desire to take the world in while he's still in it. We also discuss the origins of his writing life, his Peace Corps stint in Burkina Faso and the big novels that he and the other volunteers traded, whether there are any books he wants to get to before he dies, what we each learned about oncology waiting room etiquette and the grace & goodwill of oncologists, the issue of assisted suicide, and a LOT more. (Plus, I talk about this week's NYC memorial for Michael Denneny.) • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_543_-_Joseph_Monninger.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:47pm EDT

With his new story collection, The Disappeared (Knopf), Andrew Porter explores the intricacies of loss in day-to-day life, and all that vanishes as we grow into middle age. We talk about how the stories came together for him, why he set (almost) all the stories in The Disappeared in San Antonio and Austin, how he had to adjust his writing life once he became a dad, and why he loves writing about artists. We also get into his path into writing, the moment he discovered contemporary fiction is his jam, and his lessons learned from teaching fiction for more than 20 years: how student sensibilities around genre have changed, the stories he's had to retire from teaching, and Marilynne Robinson's influence of his teaching style. Plus, we discuss stories vs. novels, the changes in literary magazines, his newfound penchant for flash fiction, how he lost all his writing in an apartment break-in 20+ years ago (and my twisted idea for a story about that), and more. Follow Andrew on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_542_-_Andrew_Porter.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:54am EDT

Author Jonathan Papernick joins the show to celebrate his fantastic new short story collection, Gallery of the Disappeared Men, and new novel, I am my Beloveds (Story Plant). We talk about his writing life, the weirdness & joy of retracing the footsteps of his characters in Israel, his move into playwriting and how it contrasts with writing novels & stories, and how a failed novel sparked a very successful novella. We also get into his career teaching fiction writing, what he's learned from teaching, how his students have changed and how he learned to appreciate trigger warnings, and the Tobias Wolff story he uses in virtually all of his fiction-writing classes. Plus, we discuss Judaism, his multi-generation Canadian roots, why he likes living in Providence after leaving Boston, the very embarrassing time he met Margaret Atwood, and more! Follow Jonathan on Twitter, Bluesky and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_541_-_Jonathan_Papernick.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:03am EDT

Let's visit the Eternal City! Scott Samuelson joins the show to discuss his wondrous new book, ROME AS A GUIDE TO THE GOOD LIFE: A Philosophical Grand Tour (University of Chicago Press), and we get right into how he fell in love with Rome, what it means to engage with the city philosophically, and how he blended place, history, philosophy, art, poetry, religion and more in his exploration of Rome and the vita beata. We talk about mortality and mercy, the way Roman philosophers remind him of jazz musicians, critiques of Roman imperialism and why the city of Rome itself is its best defense against its colonial-critics, and what he's looking forward to when he returns to Rome after a 3-year hiatus. We also discuss his experience teaching philosophy to non-traditional students, his love of cooking and the last meal he made for a dying friend, the importance of forgetting and/or externalizing memory, whether my "Virgil is to Homer as Kobe is to MJ" comp holds up, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_540_-_Scott_Samuelson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:32pm EDT

With AFFINITIES: On Art & Fascination (NYRB), Brian Dillon completes a "loose trilogy" of books revolving around his connections to art, writing & the world, this time through a series of amazing essays about photography, dance, video, and other art forms, as well as the drift-nature of affinity itself. We get into the tendrils of influence (and how he has to shake himself loose of the reticence of Barthes & Sebald), the act of close looking. the way metaphors & images enable to him to explore art, and why he embraces mood over argument in his essays. We also talk about the ways his recent books (Affinities, Suppose a Sentence, & Essayism) have served as a reboot of his writing, the challenges in wedding the critical/analytic & the memoiristic, his decision to rewrite by hand the previously published pieces for this book to see if new connections revealed themselves, and how he never knows what to ask an artist in the studio. Plus, we discuss how much personal info is too much in an essay, the parallels between his aunt's descent into paranoia with his own pursuit of close looking/reading, the writers he discovered late, what comes next, why he doesn't shy away from calling Affinities an essay collection, and more! Follow Brian on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_539_-_Brian_Dillon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:24pm EDT

With his new book, COLOR CAPITAL OF THE WORLD (U of Akron Press), John W. Kropf explores the history of the American Crayon Co., Sandusky, OH, and his own family, while telling a bigger story about America. We get into the family stories & lore that led him to write the book, the toughest parts of researching it, when he realized that the story would involve the history of American immigration, innovation, chemistry, industry, public education, labor, and the rapaciousness of finance, and why he made sure to get a Gordon Lightfoot reference into its pages. We also talk about what crayons meant to American kids, whether he still draws with them, why his family sold out of the company, and how he met the challenge of including personal memoir in the story of a company town. Plus we contrast his multi-multi-generational history in America with my rootless cosmopolitanism, reflect on his writing life, and figure out who he's been reading lately. Follow John on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_538_-_John_Kropf.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:37am EDT

With his fantastic new novel, GONE TO THE WOLVES (FSG), John Wray explores the metal scene of the 1990s, from Gulf Coast Florida to LA to the wilds of Norway. We get into his history with metal (starting with AC/DC), why he wanted his lead characters to be fans with no aspirations to be musicians themselves, the coolness fallacy of authors writing about rock music, the brief era where a band like Cannibal Corpse could sell hundreds of thousands of records, and why this was his most fun book to write. We also talk about the theology of Norwegian black metal, this book's relationship to Denis Johnson's Tree of Smoke, his favorite drummer, and how he settled into Graham Greene's writing practice of having a word count for each day. Plus, we discuss his recurring neurotic breakdown when a book is in galleys, his realization that his parents did not take his writing seriously (when he was an 8th grader), the process of renovating a brownstone in Prospect Park and renting out rooms to other writers (like Nathan Englander), becoming a dad in recent years (and failing to teach his son how to fly a kite), the tension between writing the books he wants to write and selling more copies, the risk of getting sued by Vince Neil, and a lot more. Follow John on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_537_-_John_Wray.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:07pm EDT

With GODHEAD Vol. 2 (Fantagraphics), Ho Che Anderson has fulfilled a graphic novel science fiction adventure 20 years in the making. He rejoins the show so we can talk about how GODHEAD changed over the years, where the idea of a device that lets users commune with God came from (and how it kinda sorta mirrored his grandmothers' war for his soul), and what the process of making this book taught him about writing and comics storytelling. We get into why he loves science fiction on the screen, his experiences writing for film, prose & comics, the experience he had at Marvel with a Luke Cage miniseries that got cancelled at the last minute, and our Frank Miller experiences & some of the visual cues of RONIN in GODHEAD. We also discuss the need for religion, his fascination with the ocean, finding himself as a screenwriter (even with overlong drafts), why he donated his pages & materials from his MLK biography to the Billy Ireland library, his notion of legacy, and a lot more. Follow Ho Che on Instagram & go listen to our 2019 conversation • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_536_-_Ho_Che_Anderson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:06pm EDT

Last week I talked about finding Michael Denneny dead at his apartment when I showed up for our podcast session. This bonus episode covers the week since then, the response from his friends, colleagues, and loved ones, and how I've been doing since then. (It's only 11+ minutes, and I don't cry or shout this time.)

Direct download: Bonus_Episode_-_After_Michael.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:13pm EDT

This week's guest, gay author and editor Michael Denneny, was found dead when I arrived at his apartment to record our session. This episode consists of a monologue of my experience that day, my appreciation of his amazing and important new collection, ON CHRISTOPHER STREET: Life, Sex and Death After Stonewall (University of Chicago Press), my thoughts on legacy, identity, mortality, the AIDS crisis, what it means to bear witness, and more. • More info ;at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_535_-_Finding_Michael_Denneny.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30pm EDT

Live from MoCCA Fest 2023, it's an Artist's Spotlight feat. Noah Van Sciver! I host a live session with Noah (with audience Q&A) to talk about his career in comics, his return to autobiography with his new Maple Terrace comic (Uncivilized Books), what his graphic biography of Joseph Smith taught him about comics, when he realized/accepted he was Alt and not Mainstream, and the great wisdom his father gave him about comics (and how his dad named one of his sisters about a character from a Conan comic). We also get into looking at 40 and how it compares to the comic he did about turning 30, why ex-Mormons appreciate his Joseph Smith bio, the challenges of getting work done as a father, how the American Splendor and Crumb movies set him on his path, the influence of Kerouac and the Beats on his writing and art, the original comic art that made him plotz, his sense of obligation to share the work of older artists, and a lot more. Follow Noah on Instagram and YouTube and support his Patreon, and listen to our 2022 conversation • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_534_-_Noah_Van_Sciver.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:04pm EDT

Dr. Stevan M. Weine joins the show to talk about his amazing, illuminating and important new book, BEST MINDS: How Allen Ginsberg Made Revolutionary Poetry From Madness (Fordham University Press). We get into the nexus of poetry, suffering and trauma that enveloped Ginsberg's life, what it took for him to write Howl, and his mother Naomi's schizophrenia and what it meant for him to wrestle with it in Kaddish. We talk about the history of psychiatry, the legacy of some truly terrible practices (like prefrontal lobotomization), and what lies ahead for the field, while also exploring Stevan's mid-'80s interviews with Ginsberg and the discoveries he made in the family's psychiatric records, the power of self-mythology and how it can elide the facts (like how old Allen was when had to sign the consent form for his mother's lobotomy), and how Ginsberg balanced on the fine line between madness and great art. Plus, we discuss Ginsberg's activism and advocacy (including a controversial endorsement), the impact of his best-known poems on the public's understanding of mental illness, what it meant to Stevan to discover Ginsberg's poetry in junior high, whether he's got some poems of his own, and a lot more. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_533_-_Stevan_M_Weine.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:27am EDT

With her new memoir, The Critic's Daughter (Norton), Priscilla Gilman explores her relationship with her father, Theater Critic and Yale Drama professor Richard Gilman (as well as with her mom, literary agent Lynn Nesbit). We get into the perils of literary-kid memoir, the NYC book-scene she grew up in, her parents' divorce and how it led to her learning way too much about her dad's sexuality at 10 years old, and the challenges of capturing her early selves without jarring the reader. We also talk about how much she enjoyed recording her own audiobook, the role of the critic and the golden age of literary reviewing, what she'd ask her dad if he were around now, the disconnect between her parents' public & private personae, and the lessons she had to learn for herself about love, marriage, and parenthood. Plus, we share a literary lightning round, some football talk, and our Thurman Munson memories! Follow Priscilla on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_532_-_Priscilla_Gilman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:33pm EDT

Artist (& SO much more) Timothy Goodman joins the show to talk about his gorgeous new graphic memoir: I ALWAYS THINK IT'S FOREVER: A Love Story Set in Paris As Told By An Unreliable But Earnest Narrator (Simon Element). We get into how his murals and online posts coalesced into a memoir, the nature of attachment disorder and heartbreak, Timothy's penchant for social experiment, what drove him to spend a year in Paris in 2019, and why he used a variety of mediums to tell a single story (& in the process tell a much bigger story). We also talk about his artistic history & influences, the drive to fill every inch of the canvas, using art for social good, the musicality of his art & art-making process, how he graduated from house painting to design to art, and his Excalibur moment of discovering the Sharpie. Plus we discuss toxic masculinity & therapy, the difference between traveling the world and depaysement, our favorite NBA teams, and more. Follow Timothy on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_531_-_Timothy_Goodman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:41am EDT

Author, journalist and interviewer Christopher Bollen returns to the show to celebrate his thrilling new crime novel, The Lost Americans (Harper). We talk about his childhood obsession with ancient Egypt and how it led him to set the novel in Cairo, what's gotten easier & tougher after 5 novels, what it was like to write this one while under lockdown, and why he dived into politics and the global arms trade this time around. We also get into our respective (and multiplying) midlife crises, the tarot reader who told him he'd only write 9 books (!), the reading education he got from judging the PEN Faulkner awards, the debts he owes past writers (& the time he bought a plant for Robert Stone), and why he'd like to learn to paint. Oh, and we discuss our share postcard fetish, the horror novel he's writing, his rediscovery of Philip Roth, the loss of artistic reputation, and a LOT more. Follow Christopher on Twitter and Instagram and listen to our 2015 talk • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_530_-_Christopher_Bollen.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:20pm EDT

Artist, writer, cartoonist, playwright, director etc. Dean Haspiel rejoins the show to talk why he's launched his first Kickstarter (open through 3/30/23) to support a new comic, COVID Cop (think "unholy but hilarious combo of Judge Dredd, The Toxic Avenger, Sin City, and Marshal Law")! We get into how his approach to storytelling has changed in recent years, how he felt about the COVID-delayed debut of his play The War Of Woo, the thrill of making his short movie There Is No Try, and what it's like to work in hyper-collaborative mediums like theater & film. We also talk about the experience of drawing Superman at Yaddo, why he needed to revisit his pitch for COVID Cop now that we're semisorta past the worst of the pandemic, returning to his fave character, Billy Dogma, and wrapping up one phase of his The Red Hook series, the influence of Kyle Baker's Why I Hate Saturn on his upcoming work, the experience of mentoring comics artists at Atlantic Center for the Arts last month, his take on AI art for comics, and a lot more. Follow Dean on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Substack, and support his Patreon • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_529_-_Dean_Haspiel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:17am EDT

Author, critic, professor and now biographer Willard Spiegelman rejoins the show to talk about his amazing new book, NOTHING STAYS PUT: The Life and Poetry of Amy Clampitt (Knopf). We get into his winding history with Amy Clampitt, why he thought a biography of her would be impossible and why he decided to write it anyway, what made her poems so special, and what it was like to have such a late-blooming career (she first published at 58). We talk about the learning curve of writing his first (and only) biography, why he thinks Clampitt stubbornly stuck with prose instead of poetry for decades (and why she stuck with a terrible play about the Wordsworth circle in her last few years), how coastal Maine helped her write about her home prairies of Iowa, and why Willard choose to use the poems to expand on phases of her life from decades earlier. Plus we discuss Clampitt's resonances with Emily Dickinson, the epiphany she had at the Cloisters that started her on the path to poetry, her spiritual and political engagement and how she felt about being a "female poet", and her enthusiasm for enthusiasm. Plus, Willard looks back at the 10 years since we first recorded! • Listen to my conversations with Willard from 2013, 2016, and 2018 • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_528_-_Willard_Spiegelman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:41pm EDT

Matt Ruff rejoins the show to celebrate his fantastic new book, THE DESTROYER OF WORLDS: A Return To Lovecraft Country (Harper). We talk about his reason for doing a sequel to his best-known novel, Lovecraft Country, why he'd love to continue the story for a few more books, and what it means to carry on his characters' stories. We also get into the experience of seeing Lovecraft Country adapted into an HBO series and how its departure from his book thrilled him, the importance of not letting the present influence his writing of the past (and whether the George Floyd protests influenced his writing of his African-American protagonists this time around), and the many ways he could have died while visiting the Great Dismal Swamp to research for this book. Plus, we discuss screenwriting, the different structure this novel has from its previous one, why the quiet moments of conversation are the most important in the book, whether it's unfair that it takes him 3-4 years to write a book that takes me 3-4 hours to read/devour, and more. Follow Matt on Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_527_-_Matt_Ruff.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:09am EDT

Legendary artist and illustrator James McMullan joins the show to celebrate his new book, HELLO WORLD: The Body Speaks in the Drawings of Men (Pointed Lead Press). We talk about James' three-plus decades of posters for Lincoln Center Theater, the importance of the human figure in his art, how drawing with color opened a more expressive channel for him, and why Hello World is his most personal project (even more than his memoir). We get into the intersection of illustration & fine art and whether he resented being overlooked by the museum set, the experience of making more than 90 (!) posters for Lincoln Center Theater over the decades and helping define NYC theater (despite being neither "a New York guy" nor a hardcore theater-goer), how he makes his art in a perpetual state of risk and being willing to let that risk show, the ways his literary reading feeds his art and vice versa, and how he invested $11,000 in a supply of his favorite paper a dozen years ago and how it feels to reach the last of it. Plus, we discuss his High Focus Drawing approach, the gestalt between model and artist, how it felt to be a 'sissy kid' who found power in art, why he shows feet when everyone else is focused on the intimacy of close-up faces, and a lot more. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_526_-_James_McMullan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:39am EDT

With his fantastic new graphic novel, Why Don't You Love Me? (Drawn & Quarterly), cartoonist Paul B. Rainey has crafted a deeply human story out of a deeply weird premise, taking the reader from bleak, black humor to the most heartfelt moment of connection. We get into the challenges of serializing this story over 6-plus years, the ways in which science fiction can help us reframe our day-to-day lives, the midlife meltdown that led to the creation of My Imaginary Band, and the ways Why Don't You Love Me? explores what it's like to look at one's life and ask, "How did I get here?" We also talk about the perils of writing a story with such a great twist that it's difficult to talk about (spoiler alert!), the amazing experience of being published by D&Q after years of self-publishing his comics, the amazing experience of getting a blurb from Neil Gaiman, why he's never watched Groundhog Day, how Planet of the Apes either ruined or fulfilled his life, how he finally came around on Krazy Kat, and a lot more. Follow Paul on Twitter and Instagram and check out his shop • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_525_-_Paul_B_Rainey.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:35am EDT

Artist and illustrator Thomas Woodruff joins the show to celebrate his amazing new graphic opera, Francis Rothbart! The Tale of a Fastidious Feral (Fantagraphics). We get into how Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan floored him and inspired him to make this 300-page extravaganza, what it was like to finally make a comic after decades of critiquing them in his role at the School of Visual Arts, and how living through the AIDS crisis forced an emotionalism into his art. We talk about the terrible glamour of his art, his predilection for making series of works (like his 365 paintings of apples and his ongoing series of apocalyptic, graceful dinosaur paintings), the virtues of carbon pencil and his hunt for the last supply of his favorite paper, and why he treats teaching drawing is like a religious rite. We also discuss his legacy vis-a-vis the students he taught and the programs he built, his philosophy of using the same model for a full year of drawing classes, the story of his first tattoo and the apotropaic act, the difference between having a sensibility vs. a style, why he retired from SVA after 20 years of chairing the Illustration and Cartooning departments, how students changed over that span, the mind-melting experience of watching Diver Dan as a child, The Next Project, and more! Follow Thomas on Instagram and at Vito Schnabel Gallery • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_524_-_Thomas_Woodruff.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:05am EDT

Author Dawn Raffel rejoins the show to celebrate her wonderful new book, Boundless As The Sky (Sagging Meniscus Press), a gorgeous series of stories & a novella that take us from Invisible Cities to the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. We talk about how Dawn's previous nonfiction book, The Strange Case of Dr. Couney, led into this new book, how she became obsessed with the Century of Progress World's Fair (and how she wishes she could have asked her parents about visiting it in their youth), why Chicago was always her Emerald City, and how NYC has transformed over the decades she's lived here. We also get into the strong influence of Invisible Cities on her book and how she felt about writing a feminine/feminist response to Calvino, how the two parts of Boundless As The Sky — stories, novella — talk to each other, the twin writing-joys of unexpected resonances and sentence-building, and how incorporating Yoga Nidra offers new approaches to writing workshops. We also get into her recent trip to Kenya for International Literary Seminars, her pandemic Zoom writing-accountability partners, how she finally got around to reading Moby-Dick (and what she made of it), and a lot more. Follow Dawn on Twitter and Instagram and go listen to our 2019 conversation • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our Substack

Direct download: Episode_523_-_Dawn_Raffel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:08pm EDT

Acclaimed translator Ross Benjamin returns to the show to celebrate the publication of The Diaries of Franz Kafka (Schocken Books). We get into the twisted history of the diaries, Ross' monumental achievement of bringing them into English, the how ambiguity and circularity pervade Kafka's very language, and the question of whether one can be qualified for this sort of task before actually doing it. We also talk about how this edition restores the bodily, sensual, sexual, and public-facing Kafka (& speculate on why K's literary executor, Max Brod, bowdlerized the diaries in their initial incarnation), what it was like to translate the private writings of someone who was the personification of ambivalence, what the process taught Ross about his own life and how it revealed new aspects of Kafka to him, and what it's like to catch Kafka in the act of writing. Plus, we discuss the feeling of accomplishing a dream project like this by the age of 40 and having the sense that he's served the purpose he was meant for (which leads to the question of What Comes Next), the blurbs that made him plotz and the post-pub tribute from his daughter that brought him to tears, and a lot more. Follow Ross on Twitter and Instagram and go listen to our 2016 conversation • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and subscribe to our Substack

Direct download: Episode_522_-_Ross_Benjamin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:04am EDT

Author Sara Lippmann returns to The Virtual Memories Show after almost a decade to celebrate her debut novel, LECH (Tortoise Books). We talk about how she had to move out of her comfort zone of short fiction (see her collections Doll Palace and Jerks) to write a novel, whether she felt guilty teaching a course on novel-writing before she'd finished her first one, the research that went into writing a book about the Catskills in decline, and what it means to find the right container for a story. We also get into the book's title, and how it plays off of the Biblical notion of Lech Lecha ("go forth") and the tradition of novels named after their protagonists' last names (Herzog, Stern, Jernigan), and how LECH looks at those books through a feminist lens. On top of that, we discuss the silliness of "literary immortality" and what it means that almost no one reads Saul Bellow anymore, my absolutely ingenious idea for changing the nature of my podcast, how she took up running at 40 to combat depression, the moment she learned to stop caring about external validation, and the new novel she's working on. Oh, and I stupidly ask her for a writing prompt. Follow Sara on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_521_-_Sara_Lippmann.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:58pm EDT

Let's kick off 2023 with . . . me! I My long-time pal Aaron Finkelstein returns to interview me for what we've decided to make an annual Virtual Memories tradition. Listen to Two Gentlemen With The 'Rona (okay, he's recovering, but I tested positive a few days earlier) check in on the changes a year has wrought. We get into how a Yom Kippur fast sent me on some strange paths, how our cultural touchstones mark us, what it means to be fair to our college-aged selves, and the one Watchmen character I never identified with. Along the way, we work through some of my personal failings and my ego-vanity complex, the analog/digital tightrope, whether bookishness is something we need to get over, and a LOT more, including an intro about my end-of-year COVID experience. • Follow Aaron on Instagram and follow me on Substack, Mastodon, Instagram and Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_520_-_Gil_Roth_and_Aaron_Finkelstein.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:03pm EDT

Twenty-two of this year's Virtual Memories Show guests tell us about the favorite books they read in 2022 and the books they hope to get to in 2023! Guests include Jonathan Ames, Richard Butner, Howard Chaykin, Joe Ciardiello, Darryl Cunningham, Eva Hagberg, Kathe Koja, Ken Krimstein, Glenn Kurtz, W. David Marx, Dave McKean, Wallis Wilde-Menozzi, Jim Ottaviani, Celia Paul, Nicole Rudick, Jerry Saltz, Dmitry Samarov, David Sax, Ruth Scurr, Sebastian Smee, Peter Stothard, and Marina Warner (+ me)! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_519_-_The_Guest_List_2022.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:49pm EDT

Artist & author Dmitry Samarov rejoins the show to talk about his new book, PAINT BY NUMBERS, the disastrous experience he had trying to profile a pair of renowned artists, and why he chose to chronicle (& fictionalize) it years later in this book. We get into the conflict of art & commerce, fame & failure in America, and the relationship of artist, artwork, and audience. We also talk about the Lynda Barry class that opened his eyes to his own art-making process, what he's learned from making a podcast of his own, the surprise bliss of holding a book-event with no audience, how he's changed through the newsletter he's been keeping up regularly for a dozen-plus years, what his ongoing collage-art has unlocked for him, whether there's such a thing as an artistic dead-end, and more. Follow Dmitry at his newsletter, and on his podcast • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_518_-_Dmitry_Samarov.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:05am EDT

Author, design guru, blogger, instructor, graphic designer and treasure Steven Heller rejoins the show to celebrate his wonderful new book, Growing Up Underground: A Memoir of Counterculture New York (Princeton Architectural Press). We get into why he was ready to dive into memoir after 200 (!) books on design, how he found his voice for this book, what it was like revisiting his life from the mid-'60s to '70s, and how he wed his personal development with his growth as a graphic designer & art director. We also talk about his literary influence (go, Team Orwell!), the question of legacy, the artist he wishes he could have worked with in his storied career, and how he reassessed his past design work via captions in the book. Plus, we discuss AI images & the future of art direction, fascist symbology & whatever's going on with Ye, the joy of an empty New York City, his ongoing battle between hubris & neurosis, and a lot more. Follow Steven on Twitter and at The Daily Heller and listen to our earlier conversations: 2018, 2019, & 2020 • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_517_-_Steven_Heller.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:16am EDT

Artist Drew Friedman rejoins the show to celebrate his wonderful new book, Maverix and Lunatix: Icons of Underground Comix (Fantagraphics). We talk about his mind-blowing portraits of the legends of the Underground era, how he pared his list of subjects to 100 (from ~3000), why he decided to paint everyone in their prime years rather than present-day old (and the good stuff his subjects have said about their portraits), the research that went into writing biographical sketches of his subjects (and the challenges in getting photo reference for some of them), this book's departure from his Heroes of the Comics and Old Jewish Comedians paintings, and why he's not planning to do another book about Alt-comics artists of the '80s & '90s. We get into how Robert Crumb convinced him to draw people he doesn't like, the griping Marc Maron made about writing the foreword, how he came around on certain artists while working on the book, and his complaints about having to paint so many men with '70s era long hair and shaggy beards (and why he wants his next book to be all bald men). We also discuss how painting changed him as an artist, how he wound up recreating his early stippling effect with the brush, his realization that he was over a lot of his youthful grudges and resentments, his bucket list of people he hasn't gotten around to drawing, why Harvey Kurtzman is his most controversial subject in the book, and a LOT more. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_516_-_Drew_Friedman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:16am EDT

Writer, journalist and speaker David Sax joins the show to celebrate his new book, THE FUTURE IS ANALOG: How to Create a More Human World (Public Affairs Books). We get into how we all got dragged at once into the digital future in spring 2020 and what it taught us, how surprised he was at response to his 2016 book, The Revenge of Analog, and why this book is its perfect companion, and why analog, real world experience has grown more important even as digital activity reaches its peak. We also talk about how he structured the book's main topics and days of the week — Work, School, Commerce, The City, Culture, Conversation, and Soul, corresponding with Monday to Sunday —, the ways in which we're growing disenchanted with Silicon Valley's vision of the future, why he will cite 1993 movie Demolition Man at the drop of a hat, and why a periodic digital sabbath is a good thing. Plus, we discuss the fundamental misunderstanding of what productivity is, why capital's extractive model can only lead to burnout & ruin, whether it was a good or bad thing that the pandemic curtailed his improv lessons, the Philip Roth book that he had to beg his book club's forgiveness for selecting, his belated dive into John Le Carré, and a lot more. Follow David on Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_515_-_David_Sax.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:50am EDT

Writer Jim Ottaviani rejoins the show to celebrate his new graphic biography, EINSTEIN (First Second)! We get into his collaboration with artist Jerel Dye & colorist Alison Acton on telling Einstein's story, the chutzpah involved in tackling the bio of the man whose name is a synonym for genius, and how he kept from falling into the rabbit hole of Too Much Research. We talk about how Jim used Einstein's major theories as a way of exploring the man and his times (and why this book is more of a story than a biography), the way 20th century popular culture latched on to Einstein, how he contrasts with some of the other biographical subjects Jim has tackled, and the mystery of what happened to Einstein's first child. We also discuss the process of working with a new artist, the writing hints that come from the subconscious, the physics teacher who helped him explain the trickier theories in the book, whether the pandemic-era anti-science movement has made Jim doubt his work or has him doubling down on it, and (of course) our running stories. Follow Jim on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_514_-_Jim_Ottaviani.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:18pm EDT

Classicist, editor, and writer Peter Stothard joins the show to celebrate the publication of his amazing new book, CRASSUS: The First Tycoon, the first in Yale University Press' Ancient Lives series. We get into what drew him to Crassus, how Crassus' understanding of finance and money revealed new ways to exert power beyond military strength in ancient Rome, how he tried to balance the strengths of Pompey & Julius Caesar as part of the "three-headed monster" that ruled Rome, whether Crassus deserves to be lost to history because of his brutal actions putting down the Spartacus slave revolution, and why writing about the ancients is like walking along a wall and looking down to see the familiar and the alien. We talk about Peter's journey from council estate to studying classics at Oxford to editing the Times of London and then the Times Literary Supplement, the lessons antiquity has for modernity, what he learned in writing a book about Tony Blair and the buildup to the Iraq War, and his upcoming work on the development of the bureaucratic class. We also discuss how he survived a catastrophic form of cancer, rediscovered himself as a classicist-memoirist, and learned how much one gains in life by overcoming a fear of death, and a lot more. Follow Peter on Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_513_-_Peter_Stothard.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:23am EDT

Photographic historian & writer Michael Lesy joins the show to celebrate his amazing new book, WALKER EVANS: LAST PHOTOGRAPHS & LIFE STORIES (Blast Books). We get into his friendship with Evans & their shared interest in Lyrical Documentary, why Evans' last photos were dismissed by academics (even though they are, in fact, amazing), what he learned from writing a mini-biography of Evans for the book, how Evans returned to one of his first cameras — the Polaroid SX-70 — in his last year, and what Michael felt seeing his late wife among the final portraits Evans shot. We also get into Michael's ~50-year career from Wisconsin Death Trip to now, how reading the Russians — especially Turgenev — turned him into a writer, how he feels about everyone taking pictures on their phones, and the importance of understanding photo history. Plus, we discuss how he taught Literary Journalism at my alma mater, Hampshire College, for ~30 years, the audition test he gave his students so they could write their way into his class, why students became much more frail over the decades, and a LOT more. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_512_-_Michael_Lesy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:15pm EDT

This week, writer, professor & critic Marina Warner joins the show to talk about her new book about her parents, Esmond and Ilia: An Unreliable Memoir (New York Review Books). She gets into the memory of her father's Cairo bookshop getting burned down in a riot, the huge cache of letters and documents her mother left behind and what it taught her about her mother's life & deep sadness, how this book transitioned from novel to memoir and what novelistic aspects it retained, and why she disagrees with the standard memoir's notion of an integral self. We also talk about transformations from Ovid to COVID, her upcoming work on the concept of sanctuary and her interest in refugees, what it means to be at home in the world and how to give refugees a sense of attachment through imagination, why fairy tales and myth need to be reinterpretable and not fixed in meaning, how it felt to have one of her books cribbed by WG Sebald, how the myrrh bush captured her imagination, and why I think she should watch Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. Plus, we discuss the loss of Carmen Callil and the need to champion women writers, her role as the first woman president of the Royal Society of Literature from 2017 to 2021 and the RSL's recent unwillingness to hold an event in support of Salman Rushdie, and a lot more. Follow Marina on Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_511_-_Marina_Warner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:31am EDT

Pulitzer Prize-winning art critic Jerry Saltz joins the show to celebrate his new collection, ART IS LIFE: Icons and Iconoclasts, Visionaries and Vigilantes, and Flashes of Hope in the Night (Riverhead Books). We get into the ways his book chronicles tumultuous transformations in the art world in the 21st century, his late start (almost 40) as an art critic and how his lack of art history training affects his writing, the works of art that inspired his writing, and the transcendent joy of Jeff Koons' 43-foot-tall topiary puppy. We also talk about how a critic can try to avoid the sclerosis they're all liable to suffer, why he's the least reliable critic of Matthew Barney, why he thinks some critics are holding back on negative reviews, what it's like to attend 25-30 gallery shows a week (with his wife, the great NYT art critic Roberta Smith) and what it meant when pandemic lockdown hit. And we discuss his 35-year friendship with the late Peter Schjeldahl, his attempt at getting up to speed on classic books, his disdain for cynics and 'knowers', the artists he missed the boat on, and how art saved his life. Follow Jerry on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_510_-_Jerry_Saltz.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

Literary & cultural critic Darryl Pinckney rejoins the show to celebrate his new memoir/memorial, Come Back In September: A Literary Education on West Sixty-Seventh Street, Manhattan (FSG). We get into Darryl's friendship with/apprenticeship to Elizabeth Hardwick, and the relationships he built with Susan Sontag, Barbara Epstein, and the New York Review of Books in the '70s & beyond. We also talk about recognizing a golden age when you're in it, our current professionalization of culture and why it leads to meh art, the value of his literary/writing education from Hardwick (& others), the NYC New Wave scene he was a part of alongside Howard Brookner, Lucy Sante, Felice Rosser, and others, and why the one place he felt a sense of belonging was on the red sofa in Elizabeth Hardwick's home. Plus, we talk about his massive project on the history of black literature in the 20th century, why there are so few examples of failure in black autobiographical tradition and why (and whether) he considers himself a failure, why someone once told him, 'You're very disciplined at beating yourself up,' why we bonded over the same character in Middlemarch, and more. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_509_-_Darryl_Pinckney.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:22am EDT

Cartoonist and illustrator Tom Gauld rejoins the show to celebrate the publication of his new book, Revenge of the Librarians (Drawn & Quarterly), a collection of his weekly literary humor comics for The Guardian. We get into his comics' three lives — in the paper, online, and in books — and the difference between seeing his work in print vs. onscreen, the decision to include lockdown-era strips in his new book, and how he manages to keep his comics fresh despite having two weekly deadlines (he also draws a comic for New Scientist). We also talk about his stylistic & structural experiments, how he grew more comfortable using color, the longform comics he'd love to make (if he could just find them halfway done before he got to work), and why Beckett & Austen are always great authors to fall back on for a gag. And we discuss what it's like going on a book tour again (and meeting at least one librarian at every event), being more fearless about his work when he was younger and having higher standards now, why it was important to him to make a children's book before his kids went to college, and more! Follow Tom on Twitter, Instagram, and . . . Tumblr?! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_508_-_Tom_Gauld.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:45am EDT

With his new book, STATUS AND CULTURE: How Our Desire for Social Rank Creates Taste, Identity, Art, Fashion, and Constant Change (Viking), W. David Marx explores the narrative structure of culture and fashion (not just clothing) and how status is the driver of cultural change. We get into his thesis and why he wasn't satisfied with the "random walk" or vitality models for how fashions and taste spread, how status is conveyed to people, and why status is a third rail in most conversations. We also talk about cultural progression and/or stagnation, the role of the internet in cultural change, how great art gets made and why the omnivore mindset may stymie that, and how understanding the relationship between status and culture may help us build a more equitable world. Follow David on Twitter and Instagram and subscribe to his e-mail • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_507_-_W_David_Marx.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:27pm EDT

George Prochnik rejoins the show to celebrate his new book, I Dream With Open Eyes: A Memoir About Reimagining Home (Counterpoint Press). We get into his family's decision after the 2016 election to leave America, how his book complements his wife Rebecca Mead's memoir about their move to the UK, the performative & symbolic aspects of their decision, the work of culture, and how it felt to write about the present moment for the first time. We talk about American exceptionalism, the nature of exile & self-exile, the centrality of Freud to different branches of his family, and why he decided to write about the nature of working as a writer and trying to get by as an artist in NYC. We also discuss the apocalyptic nature of our era, how the power of ignorance is stronger than power of knowledge, how we can recuperate the unknown as a space of possibility, and the warnings of two of his past literary subjects, Stefan Zweig and Gershom Scholem. Follow George on Twitter and Instagram, although he doesn't actually post at either very much • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_506_-_George_Prochnik.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:25am EDT

Author Richard Butner joins the show to celebrate his marvelous first book, The Adventurists and Other Stories (Small Beer Press). We get into the F&SF story that started him on the writing path, his love of the Fantastic in fiction, his background in engineering & how he has to throw it out the window when it comes to writing, and the theme of return that runs through his stories and the unfinished business it implies. We also talk about his history with Sycamore Hill Writers Workshop & how he ended up running it, how critiquing others' stories can teach you more than having your own work critiqued, and his love of the short story as a form. Plus we discuss writing & performing theater and how he balances that collaborative art with the solo process of writing, his experience in immersive theater, the impact of Kurt Cobain's suicide on him & his friends, my observation that changed the way he sees his stories, and a lot more. Follow Richard on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_505_-_Richard_Butner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:51pm EDT

Author & architecture critic Eva Hagberg rejoins the show to celebrate her new book, WHEN EERO MET HIS MATCH: Aline Louchheim Saarinen and the Making of an Architect (Princeton University Press). We get into how Aline built the narrative around Eero Saarinen’s greatest buildings, her pivotal role in shaping the way we — media, laypeople, and critics — talk about architecture, and how publicity has been intertwined to architecture ever since. We also talk about how Eva’s own career in architecture PR is woven through the book, why her original title was What Would Aline Do?, the moment she realized Aline & Eero’s correspondence was Ph.D. thesis-worthy, and the notion of legacy and the ego of architects. Plus, Eva being Eva, we get into oversharing, divorce, IVF, the VERY impending birth of her first child, and more! Follow Eva on Twitter and Instagram, and listen to our 2019 conversation • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_504_-_Eva_Hagberg.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:36am EDT

Author & showrunner Jonathan Ames returns to the show to celebrate his new novel, The Wheel Of Doll (Mulholland Books)! We get into how Lee Child inadvertently led him into writing about a down-on-his-luck PI named Happy Doll, how this new book builds on 2021's A Man Called Doll, his love of crime/mystery fiction and what he's learned about the form from re-re-re-reading masters like Richard Stark/Donald Westlake. We also talk about the Buddhist influences in The Wheel Of Doll (& in Jonathan's life), whether people can change, why he tweaked Happy's LA setting to mess with reality a little, and what it means to set a character along a new path (if not the Eightfold Noble Path). Plus, we discuss his recent binge-watch of Vikings, the principle of Engagementism, his writing advice (set reasonable goals), and plenty more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_503_-_Jonathan_Ames.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:58am EDT

Author, critic and film scholar Jerome Charyn rejoins the show to celebrate his new book, BIG RED: A Novel Starring Rita Hayworth & Orson Welles (Liveright Books). We get into how Hollywood created Jerome's childhood & youth, his fascination with the tragic life of Rita Hayworth and her triumph of Gilda, his love of Orson Welles and Citizen Kane, and why he couldn't write this novel in either of their voices. We talk about genius in many guises, from Welles to Melville to Dickinson to Shakespeare to Robert Caro to LeBron, and what it means when genius dissipates. We also discuss Jerome's years teaching film criticism and why it was his favorite job (hint: it's about learning to look deeply), what the mirror scene in The Lady from Shanghai is really telling us, why Hank Quinlan in Touch of Evil may be Welles' greatest role, how Hemingway was the best writer in the world when he was in Paris and the worst writer in the world when he left Paris, whether his book editor (past guest Robert Weil) was touchy about how a film editor is one of Big Red's antagonists, why Kane was really about Welles himself & not William Randolph Hearst, why LeBron should have left Hollywood this offseason, the revelation of interviewing Paul Newman, and more! Follow Jerome on Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_502_-_Jerome_Charyn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:19pm EDT

Author & critic William Deresiewicz joins the show to celebrate his new book, THE END OF SOLITUDE: Selected Essays on Culture and Society (Holt). We get into the selection process for more than 30 years' worth of his pieces, what he noticed about the changes in his writing and viewpoints over that span, what real leadership is and why most institutions are terrified of it, and the house of cards of higher (especially elite) education. We also get into the progression of political correctness and identity politics at the expense of class solidarity, how one can (and should) criticize the illiberal left without becoming a right-wing fellow traveler, why his ideal Presidential candidate is Bernie Sanders, the way things that "can't get any worse" somehow keep getting worse, the failures of academia, and why he sees teaching as a pastoral vocation. Plus, we discuss his most controversial position — or least the position that garnered the most vituperative response from readers — that food is not art. Follow William Deresiewicz on Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_501_-_William_Deresiewicz.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:33am EDT

FIVE-HUNDRED EPISODES of The Virtual Memories Show?! Let's celebrate this milestone episode with tributes, remembrances, jokes, congrats, non-sequiturs, and a couple of songs (!) from nearly 100 of my past guests, including Maria Alexander, Jonathan Ames, Glen Baxter, Jonathan Baylis, Zoe Beloff, Walter Bernard, Sven Birkerts, Charles Blackstone, RO Blechman, Phlip Boehm, MK Brown, Dan Cafaro, David Carr, Kyle Cassidy, Howard Chaykin, Joe Ciardiello, Gary Clark, John Crowley, Ellen Datlow, Paul Di Filippo, Joan Marans Dim, Liza Donnelly, Bob Eckstein, Scott Edelman, Barbara Epler, Glynnis Fawkes, Aaron Finkelstein, Mary Fleener, Shary Flenniken, Josh Alan Friedman, Kipp Friedman, Michael Gerber, Mort Gerberg, ES Glenn, Sophia Glock, Paul Gravett, Tom Hart, Dean Haspiel, Jennifer Hayden, Glenn Head, Ron Hogan, Kevin Huizenga, Jonathan Hyman, Andrew Jamieson, Ian Kelley, Jonah Kinigstein, Kathe Koja, Ken Krimstein, Anita Kunz, Peter Kuper, Glenn Kurtz, Kate Lacour, Roger Langridge, Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn, John Leland, David Leopold, Sara Lippmann, David Lloyd, Whitney Matheson, Patrick McDonnell, Dave McKean, Scott Meslow, Barbara Nessim, Jeff Nunokawa, Jim Ottaviani, Celia Paul, Woodrow Phoenix, Darryl Pinckney, Weng Pixin, Eddy Portnoy, Virginia Postrel, Bram Presser, AL Price, Dawn Raffel, Boaz Roth, Hugh Ryan, Dmitry Samarov, Frank Santoro, JJ Sedelmaier, Nadine Sergejeff, Michael Shaw, R Sikoryak, Jen Silverman, Posy Simmonds, Vanessa Sinclair, David Small, Sebastian Smee, Ed Sorel, James Sturm, Mike Tisserand, Tom Tomorrow, Wallis Wilde-Menozzi, Kriota Willberg, Warren Woodfin, Jim Woodring, and Claudia Young. Plus, we look at back with segments from the guests we've lost over the years: Anthea Bell, Harold Bloom, Bruce Jay Friedman, Milton Glaser, Clive James, JD McClatchy, DG Myers, Tom Spurgeon, and Ed Ward. Here's to the next 500 shows! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_500_-_ALL_The_Guests.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:28pm EDT

Author, broadcaster, and journalist Hayley Campbell returns to the show to celebrate her fantastic new book, ALL THE LIVING AND THE DEAD: From Embalmers to Executioners, an Exploration of the People Who Have Made Death Their Life's Work (St. Martin's Press). We talk about Hayley's lifelong fascination with death, how it led her into this book, and how the book changed her relation to life and death. We get into the importance of bringing attention to the people who handle the dead, the reticence of some of her subjects to speak to her, the relationship between art & death and whether Warhol would have been different if he'd been willing to see his father's body, the difference between being desensitized and being detached about death, how she weaved her own story into the book without falling into me-me-me-ism or the dreaded Millennial Memoir, how she realized she was in too deep and how she got permission to step back, and plenty more. Follow Hayley Campbell on Twitter and Instagram and listen to our 2016 conversation • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_499_-_Hayley_Campbell.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:24am EDT

At 99 years old, unrepentant artist Jonah Kinigstein rejoins the show to celebrate his new book, Unrepentant Artist (Fantagraphics Underground)! We talk about how it felt to bring decades' worth of his paintings together for the book, how it captures his lifetime battle in the name of representational art, and how his paintings have changed since our 2015 conversation. We get into the inspiration of living near Coney Island, the fun of using Catholic imagery and making a circus out of religion in general, his love of the grotesque, the rage that fuels his political cartooning, the ways the Holocaust echoes in his work and whether he feels he has to be "careful" in his paintings of Jews, how he & his wife hope to celebrate his 100th birthday, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_498_-_Jonah_Kinigstein.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:13am EDT

What is art? Who (or what) is an artist? What is creativity, and can it be captured in a machine? Dave McKean's amazing new book, PROMPT: Conversations With Artificial Intelligence (Hourglass/ASFA), tries to tackle these questions, so Dave rejoins the show for a conversation about the challenges that Midjourney and other AI image-engines pose to the definitions of art and creativity, the nature of artistic intent, what it means for a machine to capture the look of drawing without an understanding of drawing, and what this all might mean for commercial art and illustration. We also talk about the nature of AI, how his Midjourney experience moved from Stalker to Solaris, why he introduced Gilgamesh, the world's oldest known story into the AI prompt, and whether the use of computers in art is a slippery slope to "hand-free" art. We also get into his lockdown life, his other new book, RAPTOR (Dark Horse), the importance of edgelands and the lost language of different places, and a lot more. Follow Dave on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_497_-_Dave_McKean.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:41am EDT

Cartoonist Noah Van Sciver joins the show to celebrate the release of two fantastic new books, Joseph Smith And The Mormons (Abrams ComicArts) and As A Cartoonist (Fantagraphics). We get into his history with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the challenges he had in making a graphic biography of the church's founder (incl. the realization he'd need 200 more pages than he was planning to use), the visual modes he used to separate fact from myth and the influence of Chester Brown's Louis Riel biography, and how the book affected Noah's relationship to the church and faith. We also talk about the cartoonist life and the strips he chose for his new collection, his comics-origin story, the influence of Tom Spurgeon on his art & life, becoming a father in the past year, the advice Dan Clowes gave him about balancing parenthood and comics, and what it means to be present for his son's life. Plus, we discuss his own comics-podcast, the stories he started making during the pandemic, his stance on paper vs. digital drawing, and what it's like to live on the other side of his dreams. Follow Noah on Instagram and YouTube, and contribute to his Patreon • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_496_-_Noah_Van_Sciver.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:35am EDT

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