The Virtual Memories Show (general)

Legendary artist, illustrator, cartoonist, & author Ed Sorel joins the show to celebrate the publication of his memoir, Profusely Illustrated (Knopf). We get into his remarkable career (and "unremarkable life"), the rage that drove his political cartooning for more than a half-century, the illustrations that made him realize he had come into his own as an artist, the origins of Push Pin Studios & his stories of working with Seymour Chwast and Milton Glaser, the terrible lessons in abstractionism that beat figurative drawing out of him for years, and his need to look at his past work to remind himself that he does know how to draw. We talk about whether political cartooning is intended to change minds or provide comfort, how writing is like a pastel drawing, how he balanced art, commentary, and commerce over his career, why he refused to sell his drawings to certain hated people, how he learned to harness the nervous energy of his line to create a unique style (and why he hates tracing), why this (secular) patron saint of late starters got around to a memoir at 92, and more! Follow Ed on Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_462_-_Edward_Sorel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:33am EST

With his new book, Ex Libris (Uncivilized Books), cartoonist Matt Madden takes readers on a post-modern, formalist dive into comics. We talk about the challenge of tinkering with story structure while still delivering an entertaining story, the work involved in jumping from style to style throughout Ex Libris (and in his past comics), the joy & terror of a notional library of potential books, and the inspiration of Italo Calvino's If On A Winter's Night A Traveler, & all his literary, cinematic & comics influences. We get into his comics upbringing, his work teaching comics and developing comics textbooks, being in a two-cartoonist household — he's married to Jessica Abel – and his kids' attempts at keeping him (somewhat) culturally up to date, the perils & rewards of canonical thinking, and his use of Alison Bechdel's comics-writing process. We also discuss the world that Factsheet Five opened up to him, his "welcome to comics" moment (courtesy of Bob Burden), Lewis Trondheim's challenge to him to make a comic without formal commentary, the supply chain hiccup that postponed Ex Libris, and plenty more! Follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_461_-_Matt_Madden.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:26pm EST

With TUNNELS (Drawn & Quarterly, tr. Ishai Mishory), Israeli cartoonist Rutu Modan has created a fantastic, thoughtful, wonderful, hilarious, complex, cinematic thrill-ride of a story about a search for the Ark of the Covenant in modern-day Israel and the West Bank. We get into the true-life origin of the story, the otherwise boring results of Israeli archeology, the research that went into TUNNELS, and what it taught Rutu about her own upbringing and how the Bible is taught to Israeli children. We talk about her cartooning and storytelling influences, her less obvious tributes to Herge, her use of actors in costume for drawing reference and how they influence the characters in her books, TUNNELS' use of location as protagonist, and what it was like to draw a book with so many outdoor scenes, instead of the urban settings of her previous books, Exit Wounds and The Property. We also get into the growth of the Israeli comics scene over the course of her ~30 years in comics, her time with the Actus Tragicus comics collective and her secret origin as a cartoonist (she comes from a family of doctors, so being an artist was not an easy path), whether she considers herself an Israeli cartoonist or a cartoonist who happens to be from Israel, why she tries not to think of her audience beyond one trusted reader, her first pandemic trip to . . .Siberia (!?), our flashback to when I interviewed her in 1998, and more! Follow Rutu on Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_460_-_Rutu_Modan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:27am EST

They were among the last people I recorded with before lockdown, and now translators Tess Lewis and Alta L. Price are back to talk about co-curating the Festival Neue Literatur 2021 (which runs from November 11 to 14, 2021), and how the theme they developed for the postponed 2020 edition, TURN AND FACE THE STRANGE, became even more appropriate for the pandemic era. We get into the cliffhanger of rescheduling FNL and the offsetting challenges of virtual vs. in-person author attendance, the rise of nationalism and closed borders, how literature from other languages can become the fallback to let us understand the world from another person's perspective, and the act of translating when people refer to the pandemic in the past tense. We get into the German-language authors (and two American ones) who are participating in this year's FNL — Anna Baar, Joshua Cohen, Isabel Fargo Cole, Judith Keller, Helen Phillips, Benjamin Quaderer, Sasha Marianna Salzmann, and Ivna Žic — and how their works approach questions of identity and belonging through strange means. We also get into what Tess and Alta have learned about the world and themselves over the past 20 months in Pandemia, why the seclusion of a translator's life prepped them for some of the worst of it, what themes they'd love to curate for future FNLs, and whether Hölderlin would have used DoorDash. (Listen to my 2020 episodes with Tess and Alta) • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_459_-_Tess_Lewis_and_Alta_Price.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:50am EST

With Albert Camus and the Human Crisis (Pegasus Books), professor Robert Emmet Meagher distills a half-century of reading and teaching Camus' work to show us how the writer and thinker continues to resonate 60+ years after his untimely death. We get into his accidental origins with Camus and how Camus speaks to us today, the Human Crisis speech Camus gave in 1946 and how it remains relevant, why no one paid attention to Camus' protests that he wasn't an existentialist, Camus' uneasy pacifism and Bob's own antiwar activism (and how it affected his career). We also talk about why I was a dummy not to take Bob's class on Camus when I was an undergrad at Hampshire (I did take his Sense & Spirit class in 1992), the Camus novel Bob had to grow into, his speculation on how Camus & his writing would have developed had he not died so young, and mortality, deathfulness, & how, as Camus put it, philosophy used to teach us how to die, but now teaches us how to think. In addition to Camus, we discuss Bob's work with veterans and healing moral injury, why exactly Achilles in the Iliad is "swift-footed" and the moment my mythic/tragic view of him gets dashed on the rocks of Bob's experience with soldiers, his draft-dodging conundrum and the deus ex machina that kept him out of Vietnam, his decision to teach & write about the subjects that interest him, rather than following academic trends, his status as a professor-in-waiting (but not retired!), how he's been coping with the pandemic, and how this book was his melodramatic Final Class. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_458_-_Robert_Emmet_Meagher.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:58am EST

Cartoonist and animator Dash Shaw joins the show to celebrate his new book, Discipline (New York Review Comics), a Civil War-era story about a Quaker who joins the Union army. We get into how Dash's upbringing as a Quaker in Virginia led him to this book, the New York Public Library fellowship that exposed him to letters and diaries from the time, the artwork of the era and how it influenced the "floating" visual style of Discipline, and his urge to depict the moments that are left unchronicled. We also discuss the Quaker debate over paying a military tax during the Civil War, the sense of growing up in an area haunted by that period of history, the multi-year layering process of making this book and how it converged and diverged with the making of his amazing new animated movie, Cryptozoo (Magnolia Pictures), and how story dictates form & style. We also reminisce about a bookstore panel he did with Frank Santoro once upon a time, and how their tooth-and-nail arguments over the nature of comics gave him hope that there's plenty of room for comics to grow. Follow Dash on Instagram and Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_457_-_Dash_Shaw.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:20am EST

With Parade Of The Old New, artist Zoe Beloff has created a panoramic history painting documenting the depths of the Trump years. We get into the impetus for that project, its enormous scale (140 feet long), its Brechtian roots, and its reproduction as a 19-foot accordion book (available only from Booklyn). We talk about notions of rights and responsibilities for artists, the debate over displaying Philip Guston's work, the angry e-mail Zoe received from a white male Marxist that critiqued her for "her own benefit", and why Parade Of The Old New is getting exhibited in Europe & Russia but not America. We also dive into her fascination with artists and thinkers of the interwar era, like Bertolt Brecht & Walter Benjamin, her family's refugee history and why it left her feeling like a Rootless Cosmpolitan, the ways she interweaves painting, film, installation, picture-storytelling (or cartooning) and other forms, the vision of NYC that brought her to the city in her 20s from Scotland, and why being a story-scavenger rather than an inventor means she gets to live in the worlds of her art. Also, we talk about her new multimedia project to celebrate essential workers, my no-fly list for pod-guests, why telling her mother and grandmother's refugee story is the closest she'll come to autobiography, and a LOT more. Follow Zoe on Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_456_-_Zoe_Beloff.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:27pm EST

Writer, poet, professor & editor Charles Bivona returns to the show for a wide-ranging conversation about art, depression, anxiety, midlife health crises (his diabetes, my CLL), Buddhism, Vietnam & contagious trauma, writing his autobiography on Patreon, and more. Our 20+ years of friendship yield an intriguing conversation about how our lives have changed in response to and/or defiance of the world around us. We get into the heavy stuff this time, but don't fret: there's room for humor with my old pal, too. Follow Charles on Twitter and Instagram, support his Patreon, and read his memoir • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_455_-_Charles_Bivona.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:04am EST

Lincoln Center Theater's dramaturg Anne Cattaneo joins the show to celebrate her new book, The Art of Dramaturgy (Yale University Press). We answer the pivotal question, "What does a dramaturg DO, exactly?" and explore the tradition of dramaturgy in Europe and America, while diving into the phenomenon of good theater, and the existence of Theatrons, those mysterious particles that circulate from stage to audience and back when Good Theater Happens. We get into how a dramaturg can supplement the work of the actors and director, how plays change during rehearsal and over the course of production, the importance of intuition and collaboration (as well as a thick skin) for a dramaturg, the joy of discovering new plays (and lost plays, and out-of-fashion plays) and finding new ways to stage classics, and the treasures that can be found in archives. We also talk about the economics of regional theater and how it constrains what plays get produced, the deep research she did to help a pair of actors in Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia understand why their characters had an affair, the triumph of staging Mule Bone, a lost play by Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, the impact of the pandemic on theater, the need to support older playwrights, and a LOT more. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_454_-_Anne_Cattaneo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:18pm EST

It's part 2 of a 2-part show about the new Philip Roth Personal Library at the Newark Public Library! This week, Supervising Librarian Nadine Sergejeff joins the show to talk about the process of going through 300+ boxes of Philip Roth's books to figure out what should go on display in the PRPL. We talk about the challenges of documenting and organizing Roth's notes and other ephemera, the discovery of his mother's scrapbooks of his career in a box marked "PRINTER", the edits and commentary Roth made in his own novels, and how she managed to organize the library without marking up any of the volumes. We also get into what it was like to assemble and open the PRPL during the pandemic, how Roth's tweed jacket made it into the collection, Nadine's path to becoming a librarian and how she wound up taking on this project, how archive researchers have changed over the years (and the problem with not being able to read cursive), what makes a good library, what NJ means to her and what Newark meant to Roth, and more! (Go check out part 1, feat. library trustee and Roth pal Rosemary Steinbaum!) Follow the Philip Roth Personal Library on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_453_-_Nadine_Sergejeff.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:11pm EST

It's part 1 of a 2-part show about the new Philip Roth Personal Library at the Newark Public Library! This week, NPL trustee Rosemary Steinbaum talks about working with Philip Roth over the years and helping convince him to donate his books and belongings to the PRPL. We get into her friendship with Roth, her visits to his Connecticut home to figure out what would be in the personal library, her favorite discoveries in the collection, and the joy of reading his notes and marginalia. We also talk about her favorite literary pilgrimages, her love of The Counterlife, Roth's funeral, the themes of Roth's work that could become future exhibitions at the library, her Newark and how she helped Liz Del Tufo develop a Roth-tour of the city (which Roth once tagged along on), the donation of Roth's letters from his teen sweetheart (including a reading list for her), and more! Follow the Philip Roth Personal Library on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_452_-_Rosemary_Steinbaum.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:09am EST

Professor Jacques Berlinerblau joins the show to celebrate his new book, The Philip Roth We Don't Know: Sex, Race, and Autobiography (UVA Press)! We get into a deep dive on All Things Roth: #metoo, reverse-biography, metafiction, rage merchants, Rothian Path Dependency, literary legacy & reputation, the changing expectations and tolerances of readers, and the writer Roth cites more than any other in his books. We also talk about the scandal around Roth's biographer and why I think it's greatest metafictional novel Roth never wrote, the role of race & racism in Roth's work (and in Jacques' broader areas of study), why Jacques never wanted to meet Roth, his love of The Anatomy Lesson, the disillusionment he had upon reading Roth's letters in the Library of Congress, why we should all read My Dark Vanessa, whether not winning the Nobel really burned Roth's ass, and so much more! Follow Jacques on Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_451_-_Jacques_Berlinerblau.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:55am EST

With his new book, Shakespearean: On Life and Language in Times of Disruption (Pegasus Books), author & literary editor Robert McCrum uses Shakespeare's plays, poems, life and history to examine how Shakespeare is a mirror of human experience, and why his lines continue to resonate 400+ years after his death. We talk about Robert's history with the plays (beginning with his role as First Fairy in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the age of 13) and the 2017 performance of Julius Caesar in Central Park that inspired the book, the ways in which the Plays and the Sonnets complement each other, and how those works influence our understanding of the self and self-consciousness. We also get into the vicissitudes of literary reputation, the way Shakespearean fits as the capstone of Robert's Disruption Trilogy, along with My Year Off and Every Third Thought, the first play Robert's Shakespeare Club plans to see post-pandemic, the snobbery that drives Shakespeare denialism, how America became Shakespearean, and the urban myth that Shakespeare wrote King Lear during lockdown, as well as the ways plague influenced Shakespeare's entire career. Plus: where I should begin with Wodehouse, what prompted Robert to finally finish Proust (and then re-read him), and the nightmare of interviewing Philip Roth! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_450_-_Robert_McCrum.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:35am EST

With How To Think Like Shakespeare: Lessons from a Renaissance Education (Princeton University Press), Scott Newstok explores the Bard's schooling, how it contrasts with the No Child Left Behind model of today, and how we're failing both students and teachers. We get into Scott's love of Shakespeare and the history of education, why the drive for "assessment" is inimical to real learning, the false oppositions about education today, the value of play & conversation, and how the pandemic may have put the nail in the coffin for distance learning. We also get into his new project on Montaigne, the importance of having a couple of key teachers in one's youth, the importance of student evaluations, why he'll opt for Marlowe over Shakespeare if he needs to turn students on to Elizabethan theater, his thoughts on translating Shakespeare into "modern English, the scaleability of a Renaissance education, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_449_-_Scott_Newstok.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:15am EST

With Ars Vitae: The Fate of Inwardness and the Return of the Ancient Arts of Living (Notre Dame Press), Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn explores how different philosophies of the ancient Greeks and Romans continue to play out in our modern era. We talk about the interplay between antiquity & modernity, how we can learn to move beyond therapeutic culture, and why she's a born Platonist (the book also gets into Gnosticism, Stoicism, Epicureanism, and Cynicism). We also get into why instrumentalizing people is one of the worst developments of our time, what it means to have an authentic outward-facing inwardness, rather than the inward-facing outwardness of our age, whether philosophy prepares us for death (and whether it should). Plus we discuss how students have & haven't changed over her 30 years as a professor, the vale of WikiHow, the moment she was entranced by a philosophy seminar titled "Love", and what virtue is & whether it can be taught. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_448_-_Elisabeth_Lasch-Quinn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:08am EST

I traveled up to the Catskills this weekend for a round of Rip Van Winkle-themed putt-putt golf, lunch, and some conversation with New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl. We get into Peter's 2019 diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer and how he gained & then lost the persona of The Dying Man during his one piece of memoiristic writing about it. We also talk about his accidental transition from poet to art writer in the '60s, why his two criteria for writing about art are quality & significance, his bias for authenticity over authority and sophistication over education, how HOWL changed his life, why he hates reproductions of paintings, why it took him years to come around on Rembrandt, his experience of revisiting Velazquez' Las Meninas over the years, the piece of art he'd like to revisit when we can travel again, his love of (& aesthete's approach to) fireworks, and plenty more on the art of living! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_447_-_Peter_Schjeldahl.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:06pm EST

With his compulsively entertaining new book, Drafted: A Memoir of the '60s (Tolmitch Press), author, screenwriter, and director Heywood Gould takes his reader on a rollicking tour of New York City in America's most turbulent decade as he explores his draft-dodging days in the buildup of the Vietnam war. We get into how Drafted evolved from a screenplay into a novel into a memoir, what it was like being a reporter for the New York Post at 22 (when it was a pinko rag, rather than a right-wing rag) and working alongside Nora Ephron and Pete Hamill, his family's tension between communist leanings & patriotism, and how his race to get out of the draft led him to Paris, civil rights protests, almost to the wedding altar, and Fort Dix. We also talk about Heywood's career writing and directing movies and TV (like Cocktail, Fort Apache, The Bronx, One Good Cop, The Boys From Brazil and The Equalizer), his one Gabriel Byrne story, why he'll take NYC over LA, and all the ways Hollywood has changed over the decades, especially in the streaming era. Plus we discuss why he reads the Torah daily (for the storytelling!), his stab at adapting Isaac Babel for the movies, how the Great American Novel has eluded him so far, how he learned Hemingway's trick of writing fiction like a news story, why being a mortician's assistant was his favorite non-writing job, and why his next book will be How Not To Be A Cancer Patient, a memoir of his 20 years (and counting) of experience with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_446_-_Heywood_Gould.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:39am EST

Author & professor Heather Cass White joins the show to celebrate her wonderful new book. Books Promiscuously Read: Reading as a Way of Life (FSG). We get into what reading does & doesn't do for us, how we can lose ourselves & find ourselves in books, how this book gestated for decades while she was working on her scholarship of Marianne Moore, how she snagged the title from a line by Milton, and how promiscuously we should read the word "promiscuously". We also talk about her read-to-bits childhood copy of Anne of Green Gables, the possibility of getting too much out of Henry James, the lessons she took from studying with Harold Bloom, why you shouldn't read as if you're going to die (prompted by my recent health issues), the importance of keeping a patient attitude toward poetry, why she decided not to do more reading about reading once she started to write a book about reading, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_445_-_Heather_Cass_White.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00am EST

Writer Jonathan Baylis joins the show (in person!) to celebrate the latest issue of his autobio comics series, So Buttons (Tinto Press/Alchemy Comix). We talk about how he found a home in the Pekar mode, writing scripts for cartoonists to draw, and how he went all-Harvey for a strip with Noah Van Sciver. We get into his comics upbringing and his work experiences at a variety of comic companies, how his time at NYU film school informed his storytelling style, the artists he's hoping to work with, and how his body of work has revealed meta-themes about his stories. We also discuss being a subject in his wife's monologues (she's comedian Ophira Eisenberg), our reminiscences of Tom Spurgeon, working with his cartooning idols, our weirdest Tarantino-moments, and more! Follow Jonathan on Twitter and Instagram, as well as his professional site • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_444_-_Jonathan_Baylis.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:10am EST

With her new book, Another History of Art (Fantagraphics), legendary illustrator & artist Anita Kunz beautifully reimagines classic paintings from a female perspective, offering up homages to the works of Leona Da Vinci, Paola Picasso, Gertrude Klimt, and many more. We get into the origins of this project, what it meant when she flipped the gender pronouns and feminized the names of artists & critics across the centuries, and how important it is for her to make art with a purpose, whether it's cultural, social or political. We get into how her career as an illustrator has evolved over 4+ decades, how she straddles the line between illustration & fine art, the importance of working with great art directors, and the old days when she had to race to an airport to make changes to a piece of art. We also get into how primatology explains politics, the joy of discovering that she has multiple books ahead (like this fall's Original Sisters), why she's been making a painting a day during the pandemic, why she volunteered at a monkey sanctuary & how she wound up collaborating with a Capuchin monkey named Pockets Warhol, and much more! (Plus, you get some news about my recent health issues.) Follow Anita on Facebook and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_443_-_Anita_Kunz.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:32am EST

With her gorgeous new graphic memoir, Let's Not Talk Anymore (Drawn & Quarterly), artist Weng Pixin (a.k.a. Pix) explores 5 generations of women in her family, from each one's perspective at the age of 15. We got together to talk about how Pix built a multigenerational history of her family through silences, how she reverse-engineered her way into making comics, the challenges of growing up in an emotionally repressed environment and figuring out how to make art out of it, and how Singapore's money-driven culture makes it difficult to build art communities. We get her history in the arts, the female cartoonists in Buenos Aires who changed her life, what she's learned from teaching art to kids, whether it's good to post in-progress art online, how cleaning up her Dropbox folder made her realize she had built a body of work in comics (leading to her first collection, Sweet Time), whether her mother is going to read her new book, and more! Follow Pix on Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_442_-_Weng_Pixin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:06am EST

With The Book Tour (Top Shelf Productions), cartoonist Andi Watson makes his triumphant return to 'grown-up' comics, spinning a tale more Waugh than Kafka about a midlist British author on a book tour from hell. We get into the book's path to publication, the new drawing style he developed for this one, why he's shifted genres & styles over the course of his career, and how this book's visual setting was inspired by Atget's early-morning photos of Paris. We talk about the YA and middle-reader comics he's made in recent years, the quirks of writing for different age-tiers, how comics publishing has changed since he got into the field in the '90s, how Love & Rockets bent his brain at 18 & sent him on this wayward path, and why he's looking forward to going on a real book tour for The Book Tour someday! Follow Andi on Twitter and Instagram, subscribe to his e-mail and support his work via Patreon • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_441_-_Andi_Watson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:04am EST

Practice makes person! With his new book, Our Endless and Proper Work: Starting (and Sticking to) Your Writing Practice (Belt Publishing), Ron Hogan explores how writing can be the process of becoming who you are, the importance of attention & focus and a regular writing practice, and why process is more important than product. We get into his sensation of receiving a Calling a few years ago and how he's carried that experience in his day-to-day life, the challenge of making your day job feed your inner life, the ways we can try to carve out time for that writing practice (and the ways to keep from beating yourself up when you don't stick to it), and why letting go of competitive goals can be a boon for a writer. We also talk about what he learned during the pandemic, how the realness of our virtual selves has evolved along with the internet, what he gets from returning to Robert Anton Wilson's memoir over the years, the misuses of Stoicism, and why he didn't use the title of his writing e-mail, Destroy Your Safe & Happy Lives, for the book. Follow Ron on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_440_-_Ron_Hogan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:38am EST

With his new graphic memoir, Chartwell Manor (Fantagraphics), cartoonist Glenn Head returns to the scene of the crime: the boarding school where he and his fellow students were sexually and emotionally abused in the 1970s. We talk about why the toughest challenges of the book were artistic and not emotional, why he was just as unsparing in depicting himself as an adult, why the trauma of his time at Chartwell doesn't provide him a get-out-of-jail-free card, and why it wasn't exactly cathartic but was definitely empowering to draw and tell this story. We also get into why memoir is like striptease, the influence of the Patrick Melrose novels on this book, Glenn's lifelong debt to the great Underground Comix artists, his drive for personal exposure, why his wife is his best editor (and only reader), the next book he's working on, and more. Follow Glenn on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_439_-_Glenn_Head.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:50am EST

Cartoonist and illustrator Will McPhail joins the show to celebrate his debut graphic novel, IN. We talk about weaponized self-awareness, the genesis of his poignant and hilarious tale of anhedonia, the value of real conversation, and how he stretched from single-panel cartoons to a long-form book. We also get into how finishing the book during the pandemic informed its earlier parts, what we'll talk about when we can talk in person again, and how IN took him away from submitting gags to The New Yorker at an opportune moment. Plus we get into the problem with "mindfulness" apps and the real definition of meditation (which we happen to find in the same place), why I should pay more attention to Bill Watterson's trees, and otters, stoats, and Will's other favorite animals to draw. Follow Will on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_438_-_Will_McPhail.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:23am EST

Artist and cartoonist Keiler Roberts returns to the show to celebrate her new book, My Begging Chart (Drawn & Quarterly), and explain how she found a new mode for her wry comics about being a mother, daughter, wife, and artist. We get into how her multiple sclerosis diagnosis left her in lockdown mode a year before the rest of the world joined her, why she withdrew from comics for a while and why she returned to them, and how she short-circuits her anxiety about reader expectations. We discuss why she shredded some of her sketchbooks and journals to clear physical and mental clutter, her daughter's role as her editor, why she'd keep making comics regarded of the business circumstances, her fixation on the smell of Cabbage Patch Kids, the impact of MS on her life & art, the joy of making a new discovery at the Art Institute Museum in Chicago, the weirdness of being the subject of a profile in the Chicago Tribune, and more! Follow Keiler on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_437_-_Keiler_Roberts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:38pm EST

With his new book OLD STYLE, artist & author Dmitry Samarov moves from memoir into a (mostly) fictional mode, chronicling the lives and deaths of a pair of Chicago bars. We get into the liberations & responsibilities of fiction, the challenges of writing about bars while avoiding nostalgia, and how he put in the time to understand the bar patrons and their archetypes. We also talk about making art through the pandemic, turning his old art & writing into collage books, the need to change his palette, and what it was like for him to teach drawing for the first time (at 50!) and the curriculum he'd design if he had the opportunity. Plus, we get into his is recent NYC trip to see the Alice Neel retrospective, the next book he's hoping to write, and his semi sorta envy at my taking up drawing at 50. • Check out Dmitry's newsletter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_436_-_Dmitry_Samarov.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:42am EST

For my first in-person podcast since March 2020 (!), I talked with writer, memoirist & biographer Dorothy Gallagher about her beautiful new collection, Stories I Forgot To Tell You (NYRB). We get into the 2010 death of her husband, literary editor & raconteur Ben Sonnenberg, and how it took her five years before she could begin to write about him, the need to balance elegy and humor in her writing, and the importance of her early days working at Magazine Management (alongside the likes of Mario Puzo & Bruce Jay Friedman). We also discuss whether things are "only things" or evidence of a life, why it's not good for a biographer to actively dislike her subject, the one biography she'd love to write, her atheist's notion of an afterlife (less eternal punishment/reward, more eternal cocktail hour), her favorite time & place in NYC, why she misses flea markets, the impact/scars of her Communist upbringing, how she's handled the pandemic, and why the isolation would have driven her late husband nuts. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_435_-_Dorothy_Gallagher.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:56pm EST

Cartoonist & illustrator Karl Stevens rejoins the show to celebrate his new book, Penny: A Graphic Memoir (Chronicle Books), in which Karl explores the inner life of his eponymous cat Penny. We get into the challenges of realistically drawing a tortoiseshell cat (and writing her existentialist thoughts), the book's origins in his Village Voice strip, and how he avoided plenty of cartoon cat cliches while crafting a book that can appeal to non-comics readers. We also get into his new work adapting another writer's script for a comic, the experiments he's doing with different drawing styles, his productive pandemic, and how he's trying to create book about his father's Vietnam experience. And we talk about our respective running habits, the virtues of Transcendental Meditation, his learning curve with New Yorker comic submissions, and his deep-dive into back issues of Heavy Metal. Follow Karl on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_434_-_Karl_Stevens.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:50am EST

On May 4, 2021, news came out that rock & roll journalist and historian Ed Ward was found dead in his home in Austin, TX. In honor of Ed's work, I've collected our podcast conversations from 2016 and 2019. We were ostensibly there to discuss the first and second volumes of his History of Rock & Roll, but Ed can TALK, and we managed to go both wide & deep on a variety of subjects. I was hoping against hope for Vol. 3, so we could continue our conversation. • More info at our site

Direct download: Ed_Ward_Tribute_Episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:40pm EST

With the new edition of Billionaires: The Lives of the Rich an Powerful (Drawn & Quarterly), cartoonist Darryl Cunningham explores the lives and businesses of Rupert Murdoch, the Koch Brothers, and Jeff Bezos to understand how they built their wealth and warped the lives of the rest of us in the process. Darryl talks about the genesis of Billionaires and its roots in his earlier work on the 2008 financial crisis, and why this book won't (necessarily) turn you into a communist. We get into his roots as a cartoonist, how a failed branch of his career made him a better writer and researcher, why getting technically better creates its own set of problems, and the comics that first inspired him. We also discuss his upcoming book on Putin & Russia, and whether the trolls and bots that might come after him online will be tougher than the homeopaths and chiropractors who got mad at his book on science denial. Plus, we talk about his new work with the NHS and why he's trying to avoid doing books on Brexit or Trump. Follow Darryl on Twitter, and Instagram and support his work through Patreon • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_433_-_Darryl_Cunningham.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:04am EST

Legendary cartoonist & humorist Shary Flenniken joins the show to celebrate the long overdue collection of her amazing Trots & Bonnie comics (New York Review Comics). We get into her process of selecting the strips from Trots & Bonnie's ~20-year run at National Lampoon, her realization of how funny her comics still are, the joy of seeing the restored artwork, and the fun of providing annotations for each of the strips. We talk about her time among the Air Pirates, the great advice she got from Charles Vess, what she learned during her stint as an editor at National Lampoon, the importance of Kermode's The Sense Of An Ending and the challenge of a punchline, the impact of her comics on their intended and unintended audiences, and whether she considers her art's place in the history of underground comics. We also discuss our dogs, her lifelong love of popular fiction, her new comics work, her favorite pen nib and her shift to digital art, and a whole lot more. Follow Shary on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_432_-_Shary_Flenniken.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:51am EST

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and cultural critic Louis Menand joins the show to celebrate his phenomenal new book, THE FREE WORLD: Art And Thought In The Cold War (FSG). We get into his process for chronicling the artistic, cultural, intellectual, technological and literary movements of the postwar era, the stories of the lives behind those movements and how he threads them together, what we mean when we talk about freedom, why writing can be like kicking open a rolled-up carpet, and the toughest art form to write about. We talk about the influence of John Cage (whose work we both dislike), the amazing creative lineage of Black Mountain College, the ~75,000 words he had to cut (the book is plenty hefty as is) and why he would have liked to include a chapter on Japan's art scene, the role of the CIA in funding movement and artistic venues, and the one person he regrets not interviewing for this project. We also discuss his pandemic life, the One More Book he wants to write, his father's anti-anti-Communist stance, the book's original title and why it had to change, and why his students at Harvard seem more interested in the '50s than the '60s. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_431_-_Louis_Menand.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:26am EST

Lexicographer, bartender and bon vivant Jesse Sheidlower rejoins the show to talk about his new project, the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction. We get into the 20-year-old origins of the project and the ways it mirrors the development of the internet over that span, the importance of fandom and community in science fiction, how the culture transitioned away from treating SF & fanzines as ephemera, and his own history with the genre. We also discuss the ways in which the Oxford English Dictionary was the original crowdsourced project, how people misunderstand the mission & spirit of the OED, the variety of rabbit-holes a lexicographer can fall down, and my own experience creating a glossary for the pharma manufacturing industry. Plus, we talk about his pandemic life, the Threesome Tollbooth, and the post-COVID party he's planning! Follow Jesse on Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_430_-_Jesse_Sheidlower.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EST

How will we remember and recover from the last 5 years? National Book Award-winning cartoonist Nate Powell's new collection, Save It For Later: Promises, Parenthood, and the Urgency of Protest (Abrams ComicArts) explores America's fractures and its hopes for the future. We talk about the impetus of the book, how it follows his work adapting Rep. John Lewis' story in the MARCH trilogy, and how his conversations with the late congressman scared him even more about the impact of the previous presidential administration. We get into the Save It For Later's balancing act of memoir & essay, his decision to draw his kids as magical animals, what MARCH taught him about comics storytelling and how it influenced his recent work. We also discuss the irony of Gen X's apolitical nature, Nate's punk ethos, the combo of thrash metal & X-Men comics that instilled a social conscience in him, the delight of visiting the quarter bins in his childhood comic shop when he goes home, why not being an activist doesn't equal being a defeatist, and a lot more. Follow Nate on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_429_-_Nate_Powell.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:16am EST

Cartoonist Michael DeForge joins the show to celebrate his amazing new graphic story collection, Heaven No Hell (Drawn & Quarterly). We get into his prolific comics career, his compulsion to jump genres, the ways we relitigate the traumas of our lives, and why he digs he self-imposed challenge of a daily comic strip (on top of his other comics and his illustration work). We get into how revolutionary politics permeates his art and how he engages in community activism, what it means to rethink our relationship to social media, why technology will always outpace his attempts at ridiculing it, and why Reading The Comments led him to explore a creative path when he was making Leaving Richard's Valley. We also discuss the uses of absurdism & satire, how his dystopian stories have him rooting for utopian ideas, how he bullied his way into judging butter tart competitions, and more. Follow Michael on Twitter and Instagram and follow his current serial, Birds Of Maine, on Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_428_-_Michael_DeForge.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:37am EST

It's been a year since I started the COVID Check-In series of podcasts, so I decided to return to the very first guest in that series, artist Kate Lacour, to celebrate! (You know what I mean.) We talk about how her life has changed over a year in Pandemia, and how the urge to document those first few months gave way to other outlets. In her case, Kate rediscovered herself through taxidermy. We get into how she taught herself the rudiments of that art through YouTube and online groups, her philosophy of animals and bodies, the question of realism vs. subjectivity, and why New Orleans is an awfully good place to make a living as a taxidermist. We go deeper into what comics mean to her and how she may return to them, the post-pandemic trip she wants to take, what progress looks like in the sequence of animals she's preserved, and more. Follow Kate on Twitter and Instagram and support her via Patreon • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_427_-_Kate_Lacour.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:42pm EST

Finnish novelist Laura Lindstedt joins the show to celebrate the US publication of My Friend Natalia (Liveright, tr. David Hackston). We get into the challenges of translating a novel that's all about the therapy sessions of an extremely literate and hypersexual patient, how the therapist's method parallels Laura's writing process, and my meta-theory of who's actually narrating this amazing novel. We also talk about the influence of Nathalie Sarraute's poetics and the literary notion of Tropism (physical reaction of natural world), Helsinki's book-life and how it's changed in recent years, the joy of playing with the Finnish language and its etymologies, and the notion of gendered writing and why Laura chose to keep the narrator non-gendered (and why that made the audiobook a challenge). Plus, I get to founder over Finnish names, and Laura tells us the place she really wants to visit when we're post-pandemic. Follow Laura on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_426_-_Laura_Lindstedt.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:24pm EST

Literary and feminist legend Vivian Gornick joins the show to celebrate her new collection, Taking A Long Look: Essays on Culture, Literature, and Feminism in Our Time (Verso Press). We talk about the biggest shock of looking back at her work for this career-spanning collection, why she organized it from most recent to oldest, and the difference between being smart and being wise. We get into the process of discovering her voice and figuring out she's a minimalist, how she got better at judging her own work, her criteria for culling books from her apartment (and her embarrassment when one showed up in an unexpected place), the importance of rereading (and why she wrote a book about it), and why the New York Review of Books recently said she "has long enjoyed an audience of literary depressives and feminists". We also discuss her 1970s essays on feminism, the movement's evolution in the past 50 years, how the Brilliant Exception became the rule, why political correctness if different than ideological splits, the New York she loves most, and why she's dying to go to a movie theater again. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_425_-_Vivian_Gornick.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:44pm EST

What price fame? With her debut novel, We Play Ourselves (Random House), writer and playwright Jen Silverman tells a comedic tale of theater life gone wrong, internet humiliation, a teenage feminist fight club, queer absurdist puppetry, the boundaries of documentary filmmaking, and a lot more. We get into the roots of her novel, what writing for theater and TV/film taught her and what she had to unlearn for this book, how she balanced her love for absurdism with narrative realism, and how to figure out which stories belong in which medium. We talk about the difference between "theater" and "Broadway" and how the pandemic has wiped out the communal experience of theater (for now), how the economics of theater can perpetuate a lack of diversity and how it feels to be "the woman" playwright in a season, how she learned to navigate the heightened unreality of LA, the difference in searching for The Path and finding A Path, why the hunger for being seen can warp pretty much all human activities, why she draws sad pandas, and more! Follow Jen on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_424_-_Jen_Silverman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:14pm EST

With her latest graphic memoir, I Know You Rider (Drawn & Quarterly), Leslie Stein reveals a piece of her life that she'd never shared with anyone: her decision to have an abortion. We talk about why she chose to tell that story, how her family reacted to the book, why she told the story in a direct, unmediated narrative, what it was like to have the book come out in the early days of the pandemic, and her one regret about the experience itself. We get into her pandemic life, and why her new comic (currently being serialized on her Instagram) portrays the exact opposite: touring the country in a van with a band and playing music in crowded bars. We also discuss her dream-book of a history of Green-Wood Cemetery, what it's like to treat your life as content, and the one project that keeps making her run away into other projects. Follow Leslie on Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_423_-_Leslie_Stein.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:51am EST

Let's commemorate the 200th anniversary of John Keats' untimely death with a conversation with Anahid Nersessian, author of Keats' Odes: A Lover's Discourse (University of Chicago). We get into how she read Keats' letters to Fanny Brawne at WAY too young an age, how she's lived with his poems since childhood and how they've changed for her over the years, and why it kills her that no one has disinterred Fanny's final letters to Keats (which he never read and are buried with him). We talk about her relationship to the western canon, the implicit (and explicit) sexual violence of Ode on a Grecian Urn, her harassment by a Latin teacher in high school and how it affected her career path, Keats' radicalist, proto-Marxist tones and the benefits of reading The Communist Manifesto in funny voices as a 7th grader. We also discuss what it's like to have a couple of strict old-school Freudians for parents, why she doesn't have time for social media (and why she didn't go overboard integrating her personal experiences into the book), the thread of Keats' Odes that has led to her next book on the Cato Street Conspiracy, and more. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_422_-_Anahid_Nersessian.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:06am EST

Author, editor and activist Kate Maruyama rejoins the show to celebrate the publication of her wonderfully creepy new novella, Family Solstice (Omnium Gatherum). We get into why she wrote a haunted house story at a time when everyone's stuck in their homes, how she pushed herself to finish the book during the early months of the pandemic, and how Family Solstice celebrates the great (and maybe a little haunted) home she grew up in. We get into what Kate's mother, the late, great Kit Reed, might have made of This Whole Situation we're in, the positives of holding a virtual book tour (including the launch in a virtual version of her childhood home), what her and her students' pandemic-era fiction looks like, the joy of getting her first Asimov's publication last year, and more! Follow Kate on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_421_-_Kate_Maruyama.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:27pm EST

With Drawn & Quarterly publishing new editions of King-Cat Classix, Map of My Heart, and Perfect Example, what better time for John Porcellino to return to the podcast? We talk about how King-Cat Comics & Stories has evolved over the ~30 years (!) he's been making it, how the refinement of his art and storytelling mirrors the battle of intuition vs. OCD, and how his newest comics (even those written before 2020) reflect life during the pandemic. We get into how Buddhism has helped him cope with life and aging, his lurking concern that he has an expiration date, what he wants to accomplish before then, and what it means to publish issue #80 and to look at reaching #100. We also discuss the joyfully awful band Flipper and what it's like being Flipper for aspiring storytellers, the example Lynda Barry set for him, the influence John has had on my stories in recent years, his joy at seeing his name drawn by Robert Crumb, and why his new dog Arlo is A Good Boy even when he barks during podcasts. Follow John on Twitter and Instagram, and support his work via Patreon • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_420_-_John_Porcellino.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:13am EST

With her debut memoir, Aftershocks (Simon & Schuster), Nadia Owusu explores the fault lines of identity, race, and justice, and the ways trauma and myths are transmitted through the generations. We talk about her upbringing in Europe (UK& Italy) and Africa (Ghana, Tanzania & Ethiopia), the meanings of skin color in different cultures, her social justice work, and what she had to learn about race in America. We get into what it's like to live on high alert, how we reclaim our stories and reframe our world, how Aftershocks evolved from private project to public document, and how even thin soil can let us extend roots. Follow Nadia on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_419_-_Nadia_Owusu.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:24pm EST

Is it unhip to search for a meaningful pattern in life? Sven Birkerts rejoins the show to talk about his new book, Vladimir Nabokov's Speak, Memory: Bookmarked (IG Publishing), which explores time, memory, and those aforementioned meaningful patterns. We get into Sven's history with Nabokov's memoir, his own impulse toward memoir as he approached 50, and the challenge of writing about someone whose prose is as incandescent as Nabokov's. We talk about larger questions of literary greatness, the nature of individuality in an age of distributed social networks, whether Nabokov's best-known book will survive, and what other books and authors have become "unsafe" for undergrad readers. We also gab about packing one's library, finding the perfect notebook, and what the post-pandemic world may look like. Follow Sven on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_418_-_Sven_Birkerts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:42am EST

A series of deaths and personal losses in 2018 hang over Mark Wunderlich's poems in his new collection, God of Nothingness (Graywolf Press). We talk about that writing, how living through it unwittingly prepared him for the past year in Pandemia, and how the current situation compares with his arrival in NYC at the height of AIDS. We get into the uses of autobiography in poetry (his editor refers to his poems as "fiercely autobiographical"), Mark's queerness being tied to his poetic-self, the inspiration of James Merrill and his mentorship by JD McClatchy, the notion of a poem as a created environment permitting freedom, why his poems go from longhand to typewriter to computer, his experience conducting a Rilke course by snail-mail in 2020, his pandemic-adjustments as director of the Bennington Writing Seminars graduate writing program, and more. Follow Mark on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_417_-_Mark_Wunderlich.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:28am EST

"At 50, everyone has the face he deserves," said George Orwell, but he died at 47, so what does he know? To celebrate turning 50, I use an obscure Woody Allen movie to talk about why I can't take stock of my life. Then the good part: I ask nearly 40 guests of the podcast one question, "What do you wish you'd done before the pandemic?" (You can skip right to that at 18:45.) Participants include Witold Rybczynski, Kathe Koja, John Holl, Emily Flake, Wallis Wilde-Menozzi, Ian Kelley, David Townsend, John Bertagnolli, Jennifer Hayden, Richard Kadrey, Joan Marans Dim, Liniers, Sven Birkerts, Barbara Nessim, David Leopold, Tess Lewis, Ken Krimstein, Michael Shaw, Dmitry Samarov, Maria Alexander, Paul C. Tumey, Kyle Cassidy, Henry Wessells, Warren Woodfin, ES Glenn, Philip Boehm, Woodrow Phoenix, Rian Hughes, Alta L. Price, Derf Backderf, Frank Santoro, Boaz Roth, Carol Tyler, David Mikics, Michael Gerber, Walter Bernard, Whitney Matheson and Dean Haspiel! Follow me on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_416_-_Wendung.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:54am EST

With his amazing new novel, Sergeant Salinger (Bellevue Literary Press), Jerome Charyn evokes and explores J.D. Salinger's WWII experience in the Counter Intelligence Corps. We talk about Jerome's history with Salinger's work, his disdain for The Catcher in the Rye and his love of Nine Stories and their depiction of NYC of the 1940s and early '50s, the range of meanings and misunderstandings of Salinger's later silence, and Jerome's own terror of writing. Along the way, we get into Jerome's ventriloquism in his historical fiction, the limits of his artistic audacity, and whether he'd write a pastiche of Hemingway now that Hem's in public domain. Jerome being Jerome, we also discuss ping-pong, professional basketball, the older Michael Jordan as a Shakespearean character, and why he's writing a big essay about Mank. Follow Jerome on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_415_-_Jerome_Charyn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:24am EST

For the final episode of 2020, James Oseland rejoins the show to celebrate the launch of his World Food series of cookbooks, beginning with World Food: Mexico City (Ten Speed Press). We talk about his first experience with Mexico City, why he makes it his home, why he considers it North America's version of Rome, what it was like to treat it as though he was visiting it anew for this book, and his love of capturing places through local cooks and the dishes that they make. We get into the food-writing he loves and his broader literary influences, the changes in the food magazine industry, his disinterest in food travel TV, and Mexican cuisine's propensity for incorporating other culture's ingredients and foods. We also discuss subtle flavor of chapulinas in guacamole, why James had a pretty good 2020, all things considered, and why I have to make his charred tomato salsa recipe (in hopes that it'll release my inner cook). Follow James on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_414_-_James_Oseland.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:54am EST

With the wonderful documentary, The Booksellers (Greenwich Entertainment), director D.W. Young celebrates the world of antiquarian books and the personalities who trade in them. We talk about how The Booksellers came together, the need to celebrate book culture, and the experience of premiering the movie during the New York International Antiquarian Book Fair on the cusp of the pandemic. We also talk about each of our realizations that we're not that obsessive about old books, the ways collectors help preserve history, and the changing nature of what's antiquarian. We get into his move into filmmaking in his 30s (after working on a novel that didn't quite work out), DW's new project on the pandemic, the election, and New York artists, the thrill of the hunt and what we miss about the pre-digital world, the great experience of getting Fran Lebowitz in The Booksellers, a celebration of NYC's long-gone Book Row, and why he's optimistic about the next generation in book dealers and what they'll collect. Follow The Booksellers on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_413_-_DW_Young.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:08am EST

It's the 8th annual Guest List episode! Thirty of this year's Virtual Memories Show guests tell us about the favorite books they read in 2020 and the books they hope to get to in 2021! Guests include Derf Backderf, Philip Boehm, Ruben Bolling, Betsy Bonner, Henri Cole, Joan Marans Dim, Emily Flake, Jonathan W. Gray, Tom Hart, Arthur Hoyle, Rian Hughes, Richard Kadrey, Ben Katchor, Kathe Koja, Tess Lewis, Ellen Lindner, Margot Mifflin, David Mikics, Otto Penzler, Woodrow Phoenix, Darryl Pinckney, Alta Price, Steve Ronin, Dmitry Samarov, Michael Shaw, Stoya, Benjamin Taylor, Jeff Trexler, John Vercher, and Sheila Williams! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_412_-_The_Guest_List_2020.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:24pm EST

In her debut memoir, To The Moon And Back: A Childhood Under The Influence (Heliotrope Books), Lisa Kohn tells the tale of how her mother brought her up in the Unification Church (that is, the Moonies), while her hippie dad exposed her to the drugs and decay of the East Village in the 1970s. We talk about how she survived both of those experiences to become a successful executive coach, and how the tools she used to heal herself turned out to be mighty useful for coaching others. We get into the allure of cults and how she managed to transition away from the Moonies, her work in the Second Gen community (people born or raised in a cult), what raising her own kids taught her about her parents' behavior, the perils of telling her kids about her life story (including her extensive drug history), her reaction to the current crop of documentaries about cults, the influence of Mary Karr on her writing, and how long it took her to find out who she actually is. Follow Lisa on Twitter and Instagram and her blog• More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_411_-_Lisa_Kohn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:25am EST

Essayist and editor Phillip Lopate rejoins the show to celebrate the publication of The Glorious American Essay: One Hundred Essays From Colonial Times To The Present (Pantheon). We talk about the origins of this anthology & how it transformed into a three-part series (two more coming next year!), Phillip's self-admitted megalomania about the essay form, how the essay both paralleled and helped change American thought over the centuries, and just what's so Glorious about The Glorious American Essay. We get into the challenge of limiting the collection to 100 essays, the value of canons and the need to revise them, the postwar golden age of the essay, the challenge of compiling work from the 21st century, and Emerson's role as the key to the American essay (and how Phillip came to understand him through reading his notebooks). We also get into how his pandemic is going, how his students' essays about lockdown life are better than some of the ones he's read from older writers, his take on the Mets' new ownership and why he's glad sports came back during COVID, and what it was like to read so deeply in the history of American essays and thought during the Trump presidency. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_410_-_Phillip_Lopate.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:40pm EST

With his amazing new book XX (Overlook Press), Rian Hughes gets to add "novelist" to his titles of graphic designer, typographer, illustrator, comics writer & artist, and photographer. We get into how he wrote a science fiction narrative using graphic design as a tool & mode of storytelling (& why more writers should consider graphic design as a part of their work), how technology had to catch up to his vision of the novel, and why he's so interested in semiotics and how ideas get into our heads. We talk about his childhood entré into type and graphic design, the boredom of illustration and marketing, the ways design involves defining problems and solutions and how that does and doesn't apply to fiction, and his affection for science fiction pulps. We also discuss whether he can turn off his design eye, the new frontiers in technology and the plasticity of the digital realm, the perils of cultural conflict, and why everything for him comes down to colors, shapes, actions and language and what they mean. Follow Rian on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_409_-_Rian_Hughes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:04am EST

With her wonderful new memoir, SELF-PORTRAIT (NYRB), celebrated life-painter Celia Paul explores her life as an artist, the evolution of her portraiture, her need for a Virginia Woolf-ian Room of One’s Own, and her 10-year relationship with Lucian Freud (c.1978-88). We get into the influence she and Freud had on each other's work, how she took control of her life and her art, the moral component of life-painting, the importance of being selfish, the conflict for women artists between being loved and following your own path, her affinity for the artist Gwen John, her antipathy toward the word "muse," and how much she flat-out hates being called an artist "in her own right". We talk about the influence of Collette & Duras on her writing, her decision to incorporate her journals in the memoir and the continuity of self they reveal, why she only paints portraits of people she knows well (and why her paintings of her sister Kate as self-portraits), the uses of stillness, how she re-evaluated her life after Lucian Freud's death in 2011, why letters are like painting, and much more. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_408_-_Celia_Paul.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:27am EST

Journalist and scholar Virginia Postrel rejoins the show to talk about her brand-new book, The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made The World (Basic Books). We get into how textiles intersect with technology, culture, commerce, politics, and more, the long gestation of this book & the dress that started it all, humanity's textile-amnesia, and Virginia's reversal of Arthur C. Clarke's third law of technology. We discuss the textile skills she learned (or tried to learn) in prep for the book and how she's now the owner of several looms, the extensive travel she undertook for research, how the book wouldn't have been possible during the pandemic, the notion of civilization as both survival technology and a cumulative process, how social technologies were just as key as physical ones to our development, and more! Follow Virginia on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Vimeo • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_407_-_Virginia_Postrel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:35am EST

In 2018, essayist David Shields wrote Nobody Hates Trump More Than Trump: An Intervention (Thought Catalog). For Election Day 2020, we decided to revisit that book, how he would write it differently now, and why Trump is the Bizarro World's Personal Essayist #1. I prompt David with the adventitious sight of a car that bore the message, "Compassion Is Another Word For Control," and we go off to the conversational races, talking politics, the superior messaging tactics of the right-wing, concerns about far-left cultural policies, faith in radical skeptical intelligence, the absence of reality hunger vis-a-vis the history of America, why rage isn't a primary emotion but rather a cover for fear and pain, the lessons of Howard Stern, and why "An Intervention" is not for Trump but for the American people. Follow David on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_406_-_David_Shields.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:18am EST

Lawyer, ethics advisor and comics nerd Jeff Trexler joins the show to talk about his new role as Interim Executive Director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. We get into his plans to help rebuild the CBLDF's reputation and ethics code after the sexual harassment scandal of its previous director, his experiences helping people pursue their harassment claims and launching antiharassment campaigns in the fashion world, how the Fund's role has changed over the decades, and why he's comfortable with that interim title. We also get into his obsessions with comics and design, the broad meaning of First Amendment law (and why R Sikoryak's recent Constitution Illustrated should be required reading), how to learn from ethics disasters, how nonprofits can grow and how they can become sclerotic, his childhood McLuhan-inspired interpretation of the theme to the Batman TV show, how our mutual friend Tom Spurgeon was the hub of the comics industry, and what it's been like to live without him. Follow Jeff on Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_405_-_Jeff_Trexler.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00pm EST

Got the election / pandemic / climate change / midlife / inexplicable rash blues? Then listen to me and cartoonist & humorist Michael Shaw talk about his new book, The Elements of Stress and the Pursuit of Happy-ish in this Current Sh*tstorm (co-authored by the great Bob Eckstein, from Weekly Humorist Press)! We get into how Michael and Bob managed to mash up Strunk & White with Thurber & White to create a prose & cartoons handbook to dealing with This Whole Situation, then explore Michael's history in cartooning and humor, how he balances that with a day job in writing and editing, his discovery that if he drew cartoons any better he'd be terrible, and why he took a hiatus from submitting gags to The New Yorker (and whether they know he's taken said hiatus). We also get into his literary loves, the perils of listening to William S. Burroughs audiobooks on late-night commutes, how his florid-rococo style balances with Eckstein's Hemingway-on-valium approach, the lesson he learned from Milton Glaser about One Element of Dissonance, and more! Follow Michael on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_404_-_Michael_Shaw.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:57pm EST

Comedy legend Merrill Markoe returns to the show to celebrate her new graphic memoir, We Saw Scenery: The Early Diaries of Merrill Markoe (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill)! We talk about how it felt to spend time with her childhood self over the course of the book, the decision to illustrate it and what that process taught her about cartooning, what contemporary Merrill has to say to her younger self, and how she owns up to having a crush on a junior high boy who made Heil Hitler salutes at her. We also get into the influence of Lynda Barry on her work, why she's considering leaving Malibu for the Pacific Northwest, her decision to auction off her Late Night with David Letterman gear to contribute to charities (like this one!), her love for Pen15, the joy of the Undo button, and how the world has changed for funny women. And speaking of, Emily Flake also joins the show to talk about the Kickstarter for St. Nell's Humor Writing Residency for Ladies (expiring Oct. 30, so go check it out)! Follow Merrill on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_403_-_Merrill_Markoe.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:28am EST

Writer and cultural critic Darryl Pinckney joins the show to celebrate the new edition of Blackballed: The Black Vote and US Democracy (NYRB) and the paperback of Busted in New York and Other Essays (Picador). We talk about revisiting his Obama-era writings in the post-2016 world, the importance of the vote and the question of whether there's a Black vote, or Black voters. We discuss his surprise at the persistence of makeup of the BLM protests, his place in the historical chain and the moment he felt out of touch, and his history at the New York Review of Books and its roots in the anti-Vietnam War movement. We also get into the fractured relationship between Jews and Blacks (following their close ties during the civil rights movement), the companionship of books during the pandemic, the commodification of the arts, the memoir he's working on about Elizabeth Hardwick and 1970s NYC, and more, including an image I've pondered for years: Jesse Jackson's tears the night of Obama's election in 2008. Follow Darryl at the New York Review of Books • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_402_-_Darryl_Pinckney.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:53am EST

Author, translator, professor and MacArthur Fellow John Keene joins the show to talk about how voices are found and how they're erased. We get into how Benedictine monks started him on the road to translation, which languages he wishes he had, the perils of knowing just enough of a language to get in trouble, and how translation trains one to let go of ego. We discuss his amazing but uncharacterizable fiction collection, Counternarratives (New Directions), along with his powerful essay, Translating Poetry, Translating Blackness, and how to explore Black representation across cultural boundaries. We also get into the performative aspects of BLM by corporations and institutions and would it would take to transform into real change, the impact of his MacArthur "genius" grant, why he's trying to move away from Counternarratives' narrative density in his new work, and more. Follow John on Twitter and Instagram and harass him about blogging more • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_401_-_John_Keene.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:33pm EST

Legendary entertainment columnist Michael Musto joins the show to talk about the evolution of gossip, nightlife, New York City, celebrity, and queer representation over the years! We get into the origins of his La Dolce Musto column in The Village Voice (and what led to the magazine's decline and death), the parallels and differences between the AIDS crisis and COVID-19, the highs and lows of '80s NYC and how the city will bounce back post-pandemic, the impact of RuPaul on the culture, his Warhol story, the generational gaps in gay upbringing, the bridges he's burned, the reason he never had the nerve to talk to Madonna face to face, the best gift-bag he ever received, how his folks came around about his being gay but were always worried about his being a journalist, why he only reads celebrity memoirs, and more. It's a heck of a way to celebrate our 400th episode! Follow Michael on Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_400_-_Michael_Musto.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:53am EST

With her new short story anthology, Entanglements: Tomorrow's Lovers, Families, and Friends (MIT Press), editor Sheila Williams brings together a panoply of voices to explore how technology and scientific advances have on the deepest human relationships. We talk about Sheila's nearly 40 years editing science fiction stories at Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, how she manages to balance new and diverse voices with a foundation of SF's history, how she copes with receiving ~800 stories a month (while only being able to buy 5-6), and technology's greater role in day-to-day life and what that means for writers' and readers' imagination and expectations. We also get into her author freakouts (like going blank when she met Samuel R. Delany many years ago), how her philosophy background helps her as an editor, missing cons and festivals, the challenge of editing an author in translation (in this case Xia Jia), and more. Follow Sheila on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_399_-_Sheila_Williams.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:57am EST

Cartoonist R. Sikoryak rejoins the show to talk about his new book, Constitution Illustrated (Drawn & Quarterly), and how his mode of parodying other comics made a perfect complement to the founding document of the United States. We get into what surprised him about the Constitution as he read it for this project, the challenge of representing the Three-Fifths Compromise, as well as the other artistic and compositional challenges of the book (all those dense word balloons!). We also talk about his family's immigrant history, how he's coping with the pandemic after finishing this book, why we both miss SPX, the artists he had the most trouble parodying, the secondary reading that went into Constitution Illustrated, why he was glad to do a book without Trump in it, his devotion to the scratchy old newspaper style of comics, and why he had to use Peanuts to represent the First Amendment. Follow Bob on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_398_-_R_Sikoryak.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:31am EST

With Three Rings: A Tale of Exile, Narrative, and Fate (UVA Press), Daniel Mendelsohn has written one of my favorite books of 2020. We get into Homer's use of Ring Composition and how it shapes Three Rings, how this book grew out of his experience writing An Odyssey, why he chose François Fénelon, Eric Auerbach, and WG Sebald as the three exiled subjects of his book, and how we understand the relationship between "what happened" and "the story of what happened" (that is, how narration changes the nature of facts). We also get into how he managed to compress and capture just about all of his major themes in his briefest book, why Auerbach disliked ring composition, and what it says about Homeric vs. Hebrew — or optimistic vs. pessimistic — styles of story, how every story has more stories embedded in it, and why Istanbul may serve as the fusion of Athens & Jerusalem. We also get into Daniel's pandemic experience and coping mechanisms for anxiety and dread, his mom's involvement in Ken Burns' upcoming documentary about the Holocaust in America, why translation is like a crossword puzzle for him, the negatives of focusing on STEM to the detriment of the liberal arts, and how we can both relate to Auerbach's comment, “If it had been possible for me to acquaint myself with all the work that has been done on so many subjects, I might have never reached the point of writing.” Follow Daniel on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_397_-_Daniel_Mendelsohn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:16am EST

To celebrate the launch of WOKE, his fantastic new comedy series on Hulu, Keith Knight rejoins the show! A lot has gone on since our 2015 conversation, so we get into how the country has changed, how his slideshows about police brutality and racial illiteracy are more in demand than ever (pandemic notwithstanding), and the reasons behind the surge in approval for BLM. We talk about how WOKE came together, the choice of Lamorne Morris to play Keef, why he wanted to be involved in producing WOKE, rather than selling the idea & walking off, what it was like to work in a collaborative environment after years as a solo artist, how different TV writing is than comics, the fun in casting the voices of the objects that come to life in the show, and how closely the lead character's woke experience parallels his own. We also discuss his drive to keep making comics, the good fortune of finishing shooting the series right before the pandemic shut everything down, and why he sure wishes he & his family could have gotten out of NC for a few weeks this summer for their annual Schwarzwald trip to see the in-laws. Follow Keith on Twitter and Instagram, and show him some support on Patreon • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_396_-_Keith_Knight.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:17am EST

With Kent State: Four Dead In Ohio (Abrams ComicArts), Derf Backderf not only creates a graphic history of one of America's darkest chapters, he gives voice to the students killed by the National Guard 50 years ago and warns us about the times ahead. We talk about the legacy of the Kent State shootings, what Kent State taught America about the suppression of dissent and what we must learn from it as protests grow across the country, as well as the research and work that went into this book, the ways in which it challenged him as a comics artist, how he rendered the mundane aspects of life for both the students and the guardsmen, and his own childhood connection to the events leading up to the massacre. We also get into the unique power of comics to tell this story, how cartoons and other pop culture covered the Vietnam protests in that era, the international book tour that would have accompanied the originally planned release of this book last spring, and more. Follow Derf on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_395_-_Derf_Backderf.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:17am EST

Poet Henri Cole joins the show to celebrate his brand-new collection, Blizzard: Poems (FSG). We get into his evolution as a poet over the 10 volumes he's published to date, the transformative year he spent in Japan, how the closet compelled queer poets to develop original emblems and symbols to convey their private experience (and his transcendent experience of reading James Merrill's Christmas Tree), and how a fan letter from Harold Bloom gave him a foundation during some tough times. We also get into his wonderful 2018 memoir, Orphic Paris (NYRB), whether he misses France or California more during the pandemic, his affinity for literary pilgrimage (and a recent one he took to Elizabeth Bishop's grave), his use of the sonnet form and his enjoyment of the constraints and parameters of the physical page, how he knows (or thinks he knows) when a poem is done, and more! Follow Henri on Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_394_-_Henri_Cole.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:04pm EST

With her new memoir The Book Of Atlantis Black (Tin House), author Betsy Bonner explores her sister's mysterious death by overdose in a Tijuana hotel. We talk about how she knew she was ready to write this story, what it was like to look at her sister's life like a detective rather than as a sibling, the history of trauma in her family and whether she considers herself a survivor, the process of rereleasing her sister's music, and the ethics of writing a memoir with some shady characters and unreliable documents. We get into Betsy's literary influences, the writers she plotzed over when she was Director at 92Y Unterberg Poetry Center, her pandemic life & what she misses about NYC, how her modes of writing differ from poetry to memoir to fiction, how the meaning of family changes over the course of The Book of Atlantis Black, and more. Learn more about The Book of Atlantis Black • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_393_-_Betsy_Bonner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:27am EST

With his new book, Stanley Kubrick: American Filmmaker (Yale University Press), David Mikics explores the life and movies of one of cinema's greatest directors. We talk about David's intro to his work (seeing 2001 at the age of 12 (!)) and the research that went into this concise and wonderful biography, why Kubrick's movies work as literary experiences, which of his movies speaks most to This Whole Situation we're in, and Kubrick's Jewishness and the holocaust movie he could never make. We get into the director's perfectionism, right down to his movies' newspaper advertising, how he balanced being control-freak in a collaborative medium like film, the role of masculinity and the lack of women in many of his movies, and the unmade projects we wish he had gotten around to (he wanted to adapt Chess Story, my favorite Stefan Zweig story!). We also get into David's experiences with the late Harold Bloom, how he's adapted to teaching via Zoom, whether Lolita (the novel, not Kubrick's adaptation) survives the 'cancel culture' era, and why The Shining is his comfort movie, disturbing as that sounds. Follow David on Facebook • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_392_-_David_Mikics.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:32am EST

Can there be economic justice without environmental justice? With his new novel, FAILED STATE (Harper Voyager), Christopher Brown returns to the alternate America of Tropic of Kansas (2017) and Rule of Capture (2019) to explore the possibility of utopia and the catastrophe of man's disconnect from the land. We talk about how he reprised his great character Donny Kimoe (causing Amazon to categorize this book as "Dystopian Lawyer"), the roots of the world he built in these novels and his drive to publish 3 books in 4 years, and how the pandemic is influencing the choice of his next project, and how he's been coping since our COVID Check-In a few months ago. We also get into the culture of undocumented people in his area of Texas, the documentary TV episode about his home in east Austin, his current binge of Latin American horror by women writers, the role of resistance when the law is being subverted by politics, the future of his wonderful Field Notes weekly e-mail, and more! Follow Chris on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_391_-_Christopher_Brown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:54pm EST

With his fantastic new book, Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America (Random House), Kurt Andersen explores how rich conservatives responded to the 1960s by pushing America on a pro-business trajectory that has led to record income inequality and a nation unequipped to handle a pandemic. We get into the one-two punch of this book and Kurt's previous history of America, Fantasyland, the over-exaggeration of individualism and how puts us on the precipice of disaster, post-'80s cultural stasis and nostalgia, the way "if it feels good, do it" led to "profits over all", the long-term impact of the Occupy movement, and how his kids give him optimism that this can all be fixed. We also get into his first New York City moment, the lessons learned from his 20-year tenure hosting Studio 360 on PRI, pandemic life and his re-integration into NYC, how we both treat our interviews like first dates, why he wants to get back to writing novels, and plenty more. Follow Kurt on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_390_-_Kurt_Andersen.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:56am EST

Who's driving whom? With Crash Course (Street Noise Books), British cartoonist, artist and designer Woodrow Phoenix examines what cars do to us: physically, mentally, and environmentally. We talk about the evolution of Crash Course, the stint in LA that inspired it, the visual and design choices that make it a haunting piece of art, and how he reconciles driving his Mini Cooper One. We also get into growing up in South London, what being Black means in the UK and US, his compulsion to experiment with styles, why he sticks with pencils and inks, and his typography and design background and how they inform the semiotics of Crash Course. Plus, he nerds out HARD for Carmine Infantino, we nerd out together for Al Hischfeld, and we try to figure out why his recurring themes are duplication, language, perception and the shifting nature of reality. Oh, and I try to get him to spend a lot of money on bookshelves. Follow Woodrow on Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_389_-_Woodrow_Phoenix.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:21pm EST

With her new book, Looking for Miss America: A Pageant's 100-Year Quest to Define Womanhood (Counterpoint), Margot Mifflin has written a compelling, thoughtful history and exploration of a uniquely American phenomenon. We got together to talk about the story of the Miss America Pageant — sorry, Competition — and its cultural significance (including its racist restrictions), how the pageant has evolved over a century, sometimes reflecting women's roles in America, sometimes reflecting men's perspectives of women, the pageant's heyday of the 1950s and '60s and its struggles since then, and the 2018 decision to get rid of the swimsuit portion. Along the way, we talk about feminist protests of the pageant, the great life-story of 1951 winner Yolande Betbeze, the history of Atlantic City and its decline, the common elements of most Miss America memoirs, the one winner she wishes she'd interviewed, Philip Roth's thread throughout her book, and how she'd change Miss America for this era. Follow Margot on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_388_-_Margot_Mifflin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:14am EST

Author, editor & memoirist Benjamin Taylor joins the show to talk about his wonderful new memoir, Here We Are: My Friendship with Philip Roth (Penguin). We get into how his relationship with Roth evolved over 20 years, how it affected his own writing, and his notion that everything that happened is still happening. We talk about the nature of friendship and how it may differ from literary friendship, Benjamin's fixation on older friends, why The Human Stain is his favorite of Roth's novels, the notion of "literary lions" like Roth, Bellow, Oates, Updike, and Ozick, and why this era seems bereft of them. He also fills us in on how long walks with Vivian Gornick have helped him handle Pandemic World, why fiction isn't the only worthwhile game in town, what it means to be an American and a heartbroken patriot, and plenty more. Follow Benjamin on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_387_-_Benjamin_Taylor.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

Comedian, actress and Emmy-winning TV writer Judy Gold joins the show to celebrate her brand new book, Yes, I CAN Say That: When They Come for the Comedians, We Are All in Trouble (Dey St.). We get into the role of comedy in society, the perils of censorship (from the left and the right), and what living through the AIDS crisis taught her about the need to laugh. We get into her history in standup, how audiences have become more offendable, how she got into her IDGAF mode in her 40s, who can take a joke and who can't (and who can tell a joke and who can't), the crucible of hanging out with comedians after shows, how she's dealing with pandemic life and how COVID-19 forced the longest break in her career, what she's learned from hosting Kill Me Now for 5+ years and who some of her Mount Rushmore guests have been, and plenty more. Follow Judy on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_386_-_Judy_Gold.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:37am EST

Batter up! Let's celebrate Major League Baseball's 2020 Opening Day by talking with cartoonist, illustrator and baseball fan Ellen Lindner. We get into Ellen's great 'zine about the role of women in the history of baseball, Cranklet's Chronicle (1 & 2), her own history with baseball, why she's a Mets fan, her theories about Aaron Judge's mystery-injury, and what it's like being in the narrow Venn overlap of comics-makers and sports fans. We also explore her comics upbringing, the education she got by volunteering at the Words and Pictures Museum of Sequential Art, the comics festivals she misses the most in Pandemic World, the time she impressed David B. with her French, how to tell family stories without alienating one's family, her side-project of sewing masks and biking around NYC to deliver them, the cut-out figure she submitted to the Mets, and more. Follow Ellen on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_385_-_Ellen_Lindner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:36am EST

Cartoonist and illustrator Adrian Tomine is in it for the long haul. With his new graphic memoir, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist (Drawn & Quarterly), he explores his lifelong connection to comics and the embarrassments & humiliations they've caused him. We get into the new book and talk about whether it was worth it, what brought him to the sketchbook style he adopted for this one, the differences between his comics and illustration work, being accepted by his cartooning heroes, and the importance of mindless time. We also talk about his ideal reader, the anxiety of influence and vice versa, what he misses about floppy comics (as opposed to bookstore graphic novels), the redactions he made in Loneliness to protect the douche-y, Adrian's remembrances of Richard Sala, and much more. • Follow Adrian on Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_384_-_Adrian_Tomine.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:08am EST

Artist, cartoonist, and clotheshorse Everett Glenn joins the show from Berlin to talk about how narrating his life as a story helped him make (some) sense of his fragmented, chaotic upbringing (he talks more about that upbringing in this great conversation with Noah Van Sciver). We get into his evolution and influences as a cartoonist through his Unsmooth graphic novel and his recent amazing achievement of the 20-page story The Gigs (which you HAVE to read), how he skipped the idol-worship phase of literature, how Cool World and Ralph Bakshi blew his mind at an impressionable age, and how he deals with the self-eating snake of racial identity from the perspective of a Black American living in Germany. We also talk about the importance of design, the origins of his ligne claire, where his fantastic clothing sense comes from, how he learned tailoring in an attempt to get a visa, how the confidence it takes to push the fashion envelope can feed into confidence in other parts of life, and more! Follow Everett's Instagram feeds for his comics and his fashion, and support his Patreon • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_383_-_Everett_Glenn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:36am EST

With Three Fifths (Agora), debut author John Vercher explores race and representation in a taut crime novel. We get into Black identity and the notion of 'passing' in America, the origins of Three Fifths and its evolution over a two-decade span, and how John's literary idols led him to the spare prose that carries the book's tension. We also get into his roundabout writing career, how an MFA program doesn't necessarily prepare one for the job-aspects of writing, the decision to place Three Fifths in 1995 (think Rodney King, OJ, and no cell phones or internet), John's martial arts background and how it informs his writing, how he integrated his characters' love of superhero comics into their psychologies, the need to pay it forward, and more. • Follow John on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_382_-_John_Vercher.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:02am EST

Author & St. John's College tutor Zena Hitz joins the show to talk about her wonderful new book, Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life (Princeton University Press). We get into the nature of learning for its own sake, the corruption of academia and its potential reform, how St. John's prepared us for the world by not preparing us, and why the Newton's Principia is the toughest thing on the SJC curriculum. We also talk about the joy of autodidacts and our shared love of The Peregrine, why she disagrees with the notion that learning-for-its-own-sake is a privilege of the elite, the challenges of leading seminars by Zoom, and how bureaucracy creeps into every system. We also tackle my lightning round of questions for SJC tutors, what she'd add to the curriculum and what she'd subtract, and answer the long-standing question: What is virtue and can it be taught? Follow Zena on Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_381_-_Zena_Hitz.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:45am EST

Author & publisher Bill Campbell joins the show to talk about what he's learned from running Rosarium Publishing (and how he accidentally became a publisher). We get into how having a diverse roster of authors and cartoonists is easy if you're willing to look, how independent bookstores generally don't support independent presses, and how work-life balance is something he doesn't even consider. We also talk about the impact of Rosarium's first book, Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond, the continued significance of their 2015 anthology, APB: Artists against Police Brutality, the cognitive dissonance of living in Washington, DC, his upcoming graphic novel about a Klan rally in Pittsburgh and why history equals horror, the challenges of continuing to publish during the pandemic, how lockdown taught him that he's not as antisocial as he thought, and more. • Follow Bill on Twitter and Instagram and follow Rosarium Publishing on Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_380_-_Bill_Campbell.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:36am EST

The beyond-legendary designer Milton Glaser died on June 26, 2020, on his 91st birthday. To celebrate his life and world-changing career, I've re-posted our 2019 podcast, along with a new introduction. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Milton_Glaser_Tribute_Episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:25am EST

I nerd out with author, English professor, and hardcore comics reader Jonathan W. Gray. We talk about how Blackness is represented in American comics (the subject of his next book), how Alan Moore's Swamp Thing changed his life, and how he was teaching comics when there weren't a lot of college courses on comics. We get into the perils and perks of academia, what it's like teaching at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and protesting against police violence, the influence of Kyle Baker's Nat Turner & John Lewis' March on his work, the horrifying question of whether we're actually in the best timeline right now, and plenty more. Follow Jonathan on Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_379_-_Jonathan_W_Gray.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:36am EST

Herblock Award-winning cartoonist Ruben Bolling joins the show to celebrate 30 years of his comic, Tom The Dancing Bug! We talk about his two new collections, Into the Trumpverse and The Super-Fun-Pak Comix Reader, and how pandemic-uncertainty means you'll need to pre-order those books NOW in order to get 'em. We also get into how Tom The Dancing Bug has evolved over the decades, why he's never drawn himself in a strip (which I think is tied into his regret at using a pseudonym all these years), the benefits of using an open format without recurring characters (for the most part), how Bill Griffith's Zippy the Pinhead blew his mind when he was young, his embarrassment of riches when the blurbs for Into the Trumpverse started coming in, secretly being glad his kids are around so much during the pandemic, why he'd love to get back to making more of his EMU Club series of kids books, and plenty more! Pre-order Into the Trumpverse and The Super-Fun-Pak Comix Reader by June 30, 2020 • Follow Ruben on Twitter and Instagram, and support his work via The Inner Hive • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_378_-_Ruben_Bolling.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:13am EST

Designer, artist and writer Keith Henry Brown joins the show to talk about his new kids book, Birth of The Cool: How Miles Davis Found His Sound. We get into the twists and turns of his illustration career, exploring the balancing act of art & commerce in his main role as an art director, the role of jazz in his work, how he started off by achieving his childhood goal of drawing for Marvel Comics, but rapidly realized it wasn't for him, the ongoing evolution of his style, how he discovered his place at the Society of Illustrators, the longform graphic novel he's hoping to create, the issues of race in his career, and more. • Follow Keith on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram• More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_377_-_Keith_Henry_Brown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:01am EST

Through his work at Publishers Weekly, editor Calvin Reid has been an important advocate for comics and graphic novel publishing for decades. We get into his history with comics and making art, how he began writing about the book publishing world, and the weirdness of having to update the annual retailer survey to reflect the effect of the pandemic on booksellers. Calvin talks about the transformative nature of Black Lives Matter, the lack of diversity in publishing (which he wrote about 25 years ago), and how Black artists are represented in mainstream comics, as well as how wearing a mask helps protects him from COVID, satisfies his superhero fantasies, AND gets him likes on social media. Follow Calvin on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram• More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_376_-_Calvin_Reid.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:54am EST

Author Arthur Hoyle joins the show to talk about his new book, Mavericks, Mystics, and Misfits: Americans Against the Grain (Sunbury Press), in which profiles of American figures help illustrate the paradoxes and aspirations of a nation. We get into how the book grew out of the concept of the exemplar put forth by Henry Miller (the subject of Arthur's first book), his vision of America and how the florid language of the founding fathers is like PR for a damaging product, and how his selection of biographical subjects in MM&M represents the diversity of America in its ethnicity and geographic spread. We also get into climate change and rampant capitalism, his practice of "first draft, best draft", the fascist seed of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, how the pandemic scrambled his trip to Patagonia and led to an odyssey to get back to Southern California, his next book about the tension artists face between the muse & the mundane, our various ideas of how to treat Henry Miller in film & fiction, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_375_-_Arthur_Hoyle.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:24am EST

Translator and director Philip Boehm joins the show fresh off winning his second Helen & Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize. We talk about his prize-winning translation of Christine Wunnicke's The Fox & Dr. Shimamura (New Directions), and the research and challenges that went into bringing the eerie historical novel to life in English, then get into his time in Poland in the '80s, how it shaped his ideas on the role of the arts in society, and how he had to smuggle his work out of the country, the differences between translating for the page vs. the stage, his role as Artistic Director of Upstream Theater, the time he pranked a publisher with a fake letter from Kafka to Milena, the pressure of translating canonical works and the joy of meeting & befriending authors he works on, the parallels between Iron Curtain countries in the '80s & America today, how every theatrical staging is an act of translation, regardless of the source language, why German is like Lego while Polish is like autumnal rustling, how he's dealing with Pandemic Life in Texas, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_374_-_Philip_Boehm.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:11pm EST

Cartoonist Dylan Horrocks checks in from Wellington, NZ. We celebrate his country's success at overcoming the pandemic, but get into the darker lessons he learned during lockdown, and his shame at having to shrink his circle of concern during the depths of it. We get into making & reading comics during This Whole Situation, the grace of NZ's prime minister and the dry wit of its director-general of health, the joy of getting back to the pub, the way scientist Siouxsie Wiles & cartoonist Toby Morris collaborated to educate NZ about COVID-19, how the BLM protests have translated to his country, the comics projects he's working on, and plenty more. Follow Dylan on Twitter and Instagram, and read his all-time great graphic novel, Hicksville • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Dylan_Horrocks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:57am EST

Photographer Steve Prue checks in from Brooklyn. We talk about how he got started in (largely NSFW) photography and the origin of Teamrockstar Images, how he's dealing with pandemic life (his roommate is yesterday's guest, Stoya), figuring out how to coordinate remote shoots with models, his love of burlesque and people who have an aversion to clothes, how he melted down when he met Britney Spears, our mutual love of the work of Richard Kadrey, his obsessive, studio-level lighting for routine Zoom calls, and more. Follow Steve on Twitter, and Instagram, OnlyFans, Vimeo and Patreon, and check out Teamrockstar Images • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Steve_Prue.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:07am EST

Writer, actress, publisher and adult performer Stoya checks in from Brooklyn. We talk about social change and protests against police violence, why now isn't the time for self-promotion and why it is the time to promote Black voices, what the next world may look like, and why the AVN Awards committee's decision to eliminate the category of "interracial" is long overdue. We also get into her pandemic life, the ethical debate over being on OnlyFans, wanting to get back to her AEW Wednesdays, the value of friendship, the toothpaste she hoards when she's in Serbia, and her relief at discovering that she & her roommate can handle the lockdown. Follow Stoya on Twitter, Instagram, and OnlyFans, and check out her magazine, ZeroSpaces • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Stoya.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:39am EST

Cartoonist, activist and live-drawing pioneer Liza Donnelly checks in from Rhinebeck, NY. We talk about the rhythm of her daily live-drawing video sessions and how they've improved her drawing & maybe her mental health, the Zoom event she held for Society of Illustrations with Roz Chast & Liana Finck, the longform graphic novel she's pondering, what she misses about NYC, her upcoming exhibition at the Norman Rockwell Museum, how she's getting reacquainted with drawing on paper, the challenge of coming up with cartoons for The New Yorker nowadays, and more. Follow Liza on Twitter, Periscope and Instagram • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Liza_Donnelly.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:19am EST

Author & photographer Kipp Friedman checks in from Milwaukee, hours after the death of his father, the great writer Bruce Jay Friedman. We trade stories about BJF, but first we talk about how Kipp has been coping with pandemic life, and how, with his bar/bat mitzvah photography business on hiatus, Kipp has returned to a novel he began a few yeas ago about his time as a newspaper reporter in FL in the '80s. He also gets into how teaching tennis manages to keep him occupied while letting him keep appropriate social distance, the advantages of having a live-in chef (his son moved back in and loves to cook), the joy of bingeing on Eric Ambler novels and the Criterion Channel streaming service, and more. Read Kipp's memoir, Barracuda In The Attic • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Kipp_Friedman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:53am EST

The first great author I ever recorded with, Bruce Jay Friedman, died on June 3, 2020, at the age of 90. His work means the world to me, so to celebrate his life, I've re-posted that 2014 podcast, along with a new introduction. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Bruce_Jay_Friedman_Bonus_Episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:52am EST

Design scholar, teacher, and author Steven Heller checks in from New York City. We talk about the anxiety & stress of pandemic life, and why he's thinking of designing a watch that just tells you the day of the week. We also get into his upcoming 70th birthday, and why that number is a big rubicon for him, his reread & revised opinion of Philip Roth's The Plot Against America, the relaunch of Print magazine (he and partners bought the title a few months ago) and the how he sustains his Daily Heller blog there, the weird comfort of walking through a protest this week, his recent binge of Shtisel on Netflix, and more. Follow Steven on Twitter and Instagram and check out his blog at Print Magazine, The Daily Heller • Listen to our most recent full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Steven_Heller.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:33am EST

Caldecott Medal-winning author & illustrator David Small checks in from SW Michigan. We talk about the "what am I going to do next?" moment he's fallen into, the bad timing of selling his papers to a university library last fall and how it means he has to recreate the opening of his next graphic novel from memory, whether his background as a kids book author & illustrator would help him explain This Whole Situation to kids, the upcoming sequel to one of her best-known books, Imogene's Antlers (and how he gave this one a more evil ending than the one his publisher suggested), living with CLL and other aspects of being 75, how he learned to use the dilation of pandemic-time to his advantage, and more. Listen to our full-length podcast and check out David's graphic novels, Stitches and Home After Dark • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_David_Small.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:36am EST

Cartoonist & illustrator Robert Sikoryak checks in from NYC. We talk about his just-completed new book, Constitution Illustrated (Drawn & Quarterly), what he learned about the US Constitution & America in the process of making that book, and how that deadline insulated him a little from the effects of sheltering in place. We get into remote teaching of his art classes at Parsons, finding his best Zoom angle, trying to adapt his Carousel live cartooning performances to the social distancing world, and the sequel to Masterpiece Comics he hopes to work on next. Follow Bob on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_R_Sikoryak.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:30am EST