The Virtual Memories Show (general)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With her wonderful new biography, Napoleon: A Life Told In Gardens And Shadows (Liveright Books), Ruth Scurr offers up a new approach to Napoleon and our shifting understanding of the natural world. We get into the image of Napoleon as gardener and how she marked his history through gardens, how her conception of him changed over the course of writing the book, the need to avoid "taking sides" with her book, her focus on how Napoleon affected the people around him, why we need to let go of the Great Man approach to history, and why the notion of a 'Definitive Biography' is a lie. We also talk about how she became a biographer without developing a 'Scurr-doctrine,' how she fell into her amazing auto/biography of John Aubrey, the similarities between how Aubrey & I collect lives, the constraints of contemporary/authorized biographies, what it meant to finish her Napoleon biography in the early pandemic days (which meant missing trips to Elba & Waterloo), whether she'll ever visit St. Helena, what sort of garden she prefers, and more. Follow Ruth on Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_495_-_Ruth_Scurr.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:36am EDT

Author Brian Doherty joins the show to celebrate his fantastic & important new book, Dirty Pictures: How an Underground Network of Nerds, Feminists, Misfits, Geniuses, Bikers, Potheads, Printers, Intellectuals, and Art School Rebels Revolutionized Art and Invented Comix (Abrams). We get into the history of underground comix, the twin poles of R. Crumb & Art Spiegelman, the long-lasting influence of the undergrounds on American (and global) culture, and the importance of seeing the undergrounds in their historical context. We also talk about comics and libertarianism, the controversy over Crumb's work today, how the pandemic curtailed his research for the book, who came up with that book title (& subtitle), the artist who he most enjoyed interviewing, and the one person he wishes hadn't given up cartooning. Follow Brian on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_494_-_Brian_Doherty.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:29pm EDT

It's our first live episode since The Before Time! The great illustrator Joe Ciardiello rejoins the show for a conversation at ArtYard in Frenchtown, NJ! We talk about ArtYard's exhibition of his art from A Fistful of Drawings (Fantagraphics), the conversation with his grandfather that led to that book, the new directions his art is taking beyond illustration, what westerns say about the times in which they're made, why he still draws with a Rapidograph, and the joy of scarabocchio and exploring lines! Plus, the audience gets in on the fun, asking him about how he looks at faces, where he starts with his drawings, how the improv/jazz-like nature of his drawings evolved, and more. Follow Joe on Instagram and Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_493_-_Joe_Ciardiello.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:41am EDT

Legendary comics creator Howard Chaykin rejoins the show to celebrate the conclusion of his Time2 opus, soon to be released in The Time2 Omnibus (Image Comics)! We talk about revisiting Time2 after a three-decade hiatus, his original intention for that world, the thrill & sleaze of NYC in his youth, and what he's learned about comics storytelling over the years. We get into the influence of musical theater, jazz, and Cinemascope tableaux on his work, the enlightening experience of Gil Kane's commentary/annotation of the movie Cover Girl, the parallels between fight scenes in superhero comics and people breaking into song in musicals, and how he's carved out a half-century career in mainstream comics while pushing back against the toxicity and fan-expectations of that genre (while also fighting purity culture). We discuss the Bartlett Sher staging of Fiddler on the Roof that left him in tears (& made him cry again when he described it to me), whether he can afford to be happy, the ways he's become more formalist as he came to understand the language & syntax of comics (as he teaches here), the musical he'd love to see, the joy of being an Outmander, why his neighbors still consider him "New Yorker on permanent leave" even though he's been in CA more than half his life, and MUCH more! Follow Howard on Twitter and Instagram (he's not really active on either of them, but does keep a pretty entertaining Substack going) • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_492_-_Howard_Chaykin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:42am EDT

Psychotherapist Andrew Jamieson joins the show to talk about his new book, MIDLIFE: Humanity's Secret Weapon (Notting Hill Editions/NYRB). We get into the history of midlife crises and the flowering that can result from that experience (while delving into our own respective midlife crises, as well as mankind's), Jung's theory of individuation & how it provides a path out of self-destructive behavior, the notion of therapy as applied philosophy, the gravitational field of authentic need, the importance of the Chinese Farmer story, his secret identity as a classical music concert promoter, why he chose to become a psychotherapist in his 50s and why he thinks I should become one. We also talk about why it's important for therapists be married to someone who has no interest in therapy, how writing a book is like serial plagiarism, the concept of love (or devotion) between therapist and client, whether neuroses can be cured or only soothed, the Ancient Greek notion of Kairos, or 'the right moment', what it was like conducting therapy sessions in a cemetery during lockdown, and plenty more. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_491_-_Andrew_Jamieson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:31pm EDT

With her fantastic new book, Meet Me by the Fountain: An Inside History of The Mall (Bloomsbury USA), architecture critic Alexandra Lange explores a subject near and dear to my NJ-native heart: The Mall! We talk about the evolving role of malls in modern America, the various snobberies that look down on malls and how she sidestepped them for her book, the social forces (suburbanization, car-centricity, racism & more) that led to the proliferation of malls, and what our relationships with malls say about us. We also get into the Mallwave phenomenon, the die-off of malls and what may come after, where kids congregate nowadays, her pandemic-cancelled trip to the Mall of America, and the jarring wrongness of the American Dream Mall. Plus we discuss her history as an architecture critic, what she'd love to see in a mall (& outside of one), my occasional dreams of malls that don't exist, her favorite '80s-era store, and more! Follow Alexandra on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_490_-_Alexandra_Lange.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:06pm EDT

Professor & biographer Ira Nadel joins the show to talk about PHILIP ROTH: A Counterlife (Oxford University Press). We get into Ira's approach to literary biography, his history with Roth's books, and what it was like publishing the other major Roth bio of 2021 (and whether the materials & records that Roth authorized for Blake Bailey's biography will remain accessible, against Roth's wishes). We also talk about how his understanding of Roth changed over the course of the project, Roth's . . . disrespect for women, the major trends that emerged in Roth's life through the books, letters and other documents Ira explored, Roth's need to self-mythologize and his conflation of fact, fiction and metafiction in his work, Kafka's influence on Roth's involvement with Eastern Europe writers during the Cold War, the question of whether Roth was deluding himself when he insisted his writerly identity was his Americanness (as opposed to his Jewishness), his bad relationships with editors and publishers, the health woes that governed so much of his life, my key questions — "What's your favorite Roth novel?" and "Does Roth's work survive another 10-20 years?" — and plenty more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_489_-_Ira_Nadel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:24am EDT

To celebrate the publication of the groundbreaking book, FRANZ KAFKA: THE DRAWINGS (Yale University Press), contributors Andreas Kilcher & Judith Butler join the show for a wide-ranging conversation about Kafka's art & how it intersects — and diverges from — his writing. We get into their essays in the book (and Andreas' role as co-editor), the humor & grotesqueness — and craft! — of K's drawings, the legal battle over their ownership, and the ways in which the drawings help us approach Kafka in a new light. We talk about Kafka's use of comic tension & comic relief, the ways in which the drawings liberated him from the horizontality of writing, his objections to using illustrations in his books, and Kafka's 'positive nihilism' & the reason why neither Judith nor Andreas believe he really wanted Max Brod to destroy all his papers. Plus, we explore their own histories with Kafka, their personal favorites among the drawings, and how their students' responses to Kafka have changed over the years. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_488_-_Andreas_Kilcher_and_Judith_Butler.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:25pm EDT

Playwright, performer and acoustic punk raconteur Alvin Eng joins the show to celebrate his new memoir, Our Laundry, Our Town: My Chinese American Life from Flushing to the Downtown Stage and Beyond (Fordham University Press). We get into his Chinese-American upbringing in the 1960s/70s, his evolution into musical theater and the education of '70s rock shows, the heyday of NYC performance art, his exploration of his Chinese heritage and the sensation of being Other in America & China, writing for the page vs. the stage, his Portrait Plays and how they interrogate other art forms and artists, the solitude of creation & collaboration of performance, how writing this memoir was sort of like making album, and more. Follow Alvin on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_487_-_Alvin_Eng.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:03pm EDT

Fashion critic, journalist and author Charlie Porter joins the show to celebrate the US publication of WHAT ARTISTS WEAR (WW Norton). We talk about the Agnes Martin photo that inspired the book, the ways we look at artists' clothes and what they say about our notions of art, culture, gender & society, Charlie's history with fashion and with art, the liberating nature of writing fashion criticism, the notion of art as infiltration, his fashion-epiphany in Mexico City, the reason he gave Picasso only one line in the book, and more! Follow Charlie on Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_486_-_Charlie_Porter.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:51pm EDT

Kathe Koja rejoins the show to celebrate the launch of her new project, Dark Factory (Meerkat Press)! We talk about how Dark Factory combines a novel with immersive fiction elements to create a new world, and how — no matter what the innovation — it all begins with character. We get into her history of building immersive events and watching what the attendees do with the environment, how the process of writing this book differed from her past ones, the way readers bring their own resonances, what it means to have an immersive experience in the pandemic era, the resonance of Alexander McQueen's Inferno show, and more! Follow Kathe on Twitter and Instagram and follow Dark Factory on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_485_-_Kathe_Koja.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:39pm EDT

Author & biographer Julie Phillips joins the show to celebrate her amazing new book, The Baby on the Fire Escape: Creativity, Motherhood, and the Mind-Baby Problem (WW Norton). We get into the tensions of being a mother & having a life in the arts, the definitions of motherhood and how women's roles changed in the 20th century (and what's different (and not) in the 21st century), how she chose the mother/artists she focused on in the book, like Alice Neel, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Angela Carter, the challenges of writing about African-American subjects like Audre Lorde and Alice Walker, what it means to consider motherhood as interrupted consciousness, and more. Follow Julie on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_484_-_Julie_Phillips.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:38am EDT

Painter Celia Paul rejoins the show for the US debut of her new book, Letters To Gwen John (NYRB). We talk about how Celia found herself through corresponding with the late artist (d. 1938), the parallels between her life and Gwen's, especially their respective relationships with Lucian Freud and Rodin, the notion of aesthetic solitude and artistic sacrifices and the loneliness of pandemic life, why men aren't great at sitting for artists, her new exhibition, Memory & Desire (Victoria Miro Gallery), how Hilton Als got her to finally come to America and how much she enjoyed Santa Monica, the ambiguity of her previous memoir, Self-Portrait, what letters and paintings have in common, and more. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_483_-_Celia_Paul.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:51am EDT

Legendary author John Crowley rejoins the show to celebrate his new novel, Flint And Mirror (Tor Books), as well as his just-before-the-pandemic collections, And Go Like This and Reading Backwards. We get into the career-long gestation of this novel, the role of Hugh O'Neill in the English-Irish wars, the alchemy of melding history and the fantastic, the impact of John's mild cognitive impairment (MCI) diagnosis, why writing really is the ability to create minds at work, and more. Follow John on Facebook • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_482_-_John_Crowley.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:05am EDT

Swedish cartoonist (okay: serietecknare) Anneli Furmark joins the show to celebrate the publication of her wonderful graphic novel Walk Me To The Corner (Drawn & Quarterly, tr. Hanna Strömberg). We get into her evolution as a cartoonist, how she copes with winter in northern Sweden and why drawing in summer isn't as fun, the flow from life into story (and the impact of the pandemic on that flow), and more. Follow Anneli on Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_481_-_Anneli_Furmark.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:40am EDT

Author & MFA teacher Nicholas Delbanco rejoins the show to celebrate Why Writing Matters (Yale University Press). We get into the notion of literary greatness, the immense craft and revision involved in good writing, the pride of seeing his students achieve lofty heights, and the ways imitation and influence can give way to originality. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_480_-_Nicholas_Delbanco.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:48pm EDT

Pulitzer Prize-winning art critic Sebastian Smee joins the show to talk about his career and the notions of artistic rivalry, influence and love, and how they came together in his 2017 book, The Art of Rivalry: Four Friendships, Betrayals and Breakthroughs in Modern Art. We get into how he got his start in art criticism in Australia, his love for Matisse and Manet, his friendship with Lucian Freud, why American has the best museums, the joy of writing for The Washington Post and why his wonderful Great Works, In Focus series needs a better name, his new project about Berthe Morisot, and more! Follow Sebastian on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_479_-_Sebastian_Smee.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:59pm EDT

Rebecca Mead joins the show to celebrate her amazing new memoir, Home/Land (Knopf)! We talk about the adventure of making a midlife leap — her departure from NYC after 30 years & her return to England —, the ways this memoir differs from My Life In Middlemarch, the moment she truly felt like she was a writer at The New Yorker, and more! Follow Rebecca on Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_478_-_Rebecca_Mead.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:30am EDT

With her fantastic new book, Accidental Gods: On Men Unwittingly Turned Divine (Metropolitan Books), Anna Della Subin explores how deification has been used for liberation and oppression. We talk religion, rationalism, colonialism, oppression, and mythmaking, and the strange ways in which cultures have collided in the past five centuries, as well as what it means to topple the statues of 'white gods'. Follow Anna on Twitter, and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_477_-_Anna_Della_Subin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:01am EDT

New Yorker staff cartoonist David Sipress joins the show to celebrate his new book, What's So Funny?: A Cartoonist's Memoir (Mariner Books)! We get into the instant gratification of cartooning vs. the joy of writing a great piece of prose, the family dynamics that he's been puzzling through for 7+ decades, what it's like to process much of one's life through cartoons, the challenges of doing comics about the pandemic, and more! Follow David on TwitterInstagram, and The New Yorker • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_476_-_David_Sipress.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:29am EDT

Author Mark Prins joins the show to celebrate his debut novel, The Latinist (WW Norton), a fantastic, Highsmith-ian novel of Oxford intrigue. We talk classics, poetry (Latin & otherwise), metamorphoses (Ovidian & otherwise), writing across gender, the Blake poem that transformed him, why it's important to Be Kind To Your Reader, & more. Follow Mark on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_475_-_Mark_Prins.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:27am EDT

Author, critic and editor Nicole Rudick joins the show to celebrate the publication of her amazing book, What Is Now Known Was Once Only Imagined: An (Auto)Biography of Niki de Saint Phalle (Siglio Press). We get into Niki de Saint Phalle's word-paintings & what they tell us about the arts of revelation and concealment, Nicole's shifting concept of biography & the tyranny of the archives, the role of the audience/reader in art, and why Nicole's first big post-pandemic trip will be to Niki's Tarot Garden in Tuscany. Follow Nicole on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_474_-_Nicole_Rudick.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:12am EDT

Cartoonist Darryl Cunningham rejoins the show to talk about his brand-new graphic biography, Putin's Russia: The Rise of a Dictator (Drawn & Quarterly). We get into Putin's postwar upbringing in Leningrad, his KGB career, the fall of the USSR, and how those key elements play into his strategy and tactics for Russia on the world stage. (We also discuss some less fate-of-the-world topics.) Follow Darryl on Twitter and Instagram and support him on Patreon• More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_473_-_Darryl_Cunningham.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:21am EDT

Let's pre-celebrate Valentine's Day with a conversation with Scott Meslow, author of the brand-new book, From Hollywood With Love: The Rise and Fall (and Rise Again) of the Romantic Comedy! We get into how Scott defines RomComs, what inspired him to chronicle their history, what these movies say about audiences & audience expectations, the entertainment industry, criticism, gender, and diversity trends, and plenty more. Follow Scott on Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_472_-_Scott_Meslow.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:49am EDT

With Bianca Stigter's documentary, Three Minutes: A Lengthening, on the festival circuit, author and inadvertent historian Glenn Kurtz joins the show to talk about his 2014 book Three Minutes in Poland: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Family Film (FSG), the vibrant Jewish life in prewar Polish Nasielsk, and all that was lost and all that he found • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_471_-_Glenn_Kurtz.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:48pm EDT

With his new book Disaster Mon Amour (Yale University Press), legendary film critic & writer David Thomson explores the intersection of disaster-as-entertainment and disaster-as-real-life. We get into how the imminent destruction from catastrophes like the pandemic, climate change, and authoritarianism have made us more cynical, why we thrill to CGI'd destruction, how his book evolved from his 2019 pitch, and how it pairs with his previous one, Murder And The Movies. We also talk about what we lose when we stop seeing movies in theaters, why romantic/screwball comedies of the '40s and not noir are the best American films, his Pauline Kael story, the decade he most adores, and whether after 45 years in the US he's ever felt quite American. Plus, we discuss whether he'll do another revision to The Biographical Dictionary of Film, his upcoming essay about The Godfather and whether he'll pretend the third one didn't happen, his literary upbringing and the radio adaptations that set him on his literary path, my lightning-round questions of Dostoevsky vs. Tolstoy and Bleak House vs. Middlemarch, and much more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_470_-_David_Thomson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:50am EDT

With his new book, The Floundering Founder: 24 Lessons To Refocus Your Business and Better Yourself, marketing entrepreneur (& longtime pal) Raman Sehgal explores what it really means to learn from your mistakes. We talk about the failures and missteps that helped him build a successful marketing & design agency in ramarketing, what he learned from good (and bad) business books, the process of writing his first book, and whether he has anxiety over running a company with ~60 employees. We get into how easy it is to get lost in the day-to-day and not step back to see the big picture, the importance of having some big (and shareable) goals, what it's like when there's an external valuation put on your business, the value of schmoozing, and the realities of imposter syndrome. Plus, we discuss what he's learned from hosting the Molecule to Market podcast, the importance of being/having a nemesis, his dream of taking his company & their families to see the northern lights, and more! Follow Raman on Twitter and LinkedIn • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_469_-_Raman_Sehgal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:48am EDT

Author, poet and translator Wallis Wilde-Menozzi returns to the show to explore her new memoir/meditation, Silence & Silences (FSG). We talk about the uses and abuses of silence, the magic of herons, what it takes for the voiceless to find a voice, the nature of censorship (both external and self-driven), whether "home" is where you live or where you're buried, and how she developed the mosaic mode of her new book. We also get into feminine writing vs. masculine writing, her distrust of the authority of words, the differences between American and Italian culture when she started exploring family history, her accidental career, and the experience of editing the "final" draft just as the pandemic began, and finding there was more to write. She also explains why she doesn't keep out-takes of her writing, why some experiences are too personal for social media, and what it meant to be a woman writer when she was coming up. • Listen to our 2013 and 2017 conversations • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_468_-_Wallis_Wilde-Menozzi.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:38pm EDT

With his new book, When I Grow Up: The Lost Autobiographies of Six Yiddish Teens (Bloomsbury), cartoonist Ken Krimstein recreates a lost world, bringing to life the true stories of Jewish youth in 1930s Lithuania, preserved in anonymous submissions for a contest. We talk about the circuitous, perilous history of the stories he adapted, the role of the YIVO Institute in preserving Jewish & Yiddish culture, and how he tried to be faithful to the hopes & dreams of the anonymous writers while knowing that they & their world would perish in the Holocaust. We get into how he developed a visual storytelling language for this book, the new influences on his cartooning, the joy & spiciness of Yiddish language & culture, the research to recreate Vilnius and how uncomfortable he got when visiting Lithuania for the project. We also discuss the counterhistory that the Yiddish teens represent, the stories that didn't make the cut, the out-of-body experience of getting interviewed by CBS' Morning Show for the book, Hannah Arendt's notion of contingency and what the pandemic experience means to artists, and plenty more! Follow Ken on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and listen to our previous podcast • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_467_-_Ken_Krimstein.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:55am EDT

Our final guest of the year is . . . me! I invited my long-time pal Aaron Finkelstein to interview me as we close out 2021. We talk about my newfound sense of mortality and the invention of new distractions, what I've learned from doing remote podcasts during the pandemic, the ways repeat guests & I have changed over the years, why I avoid trying to do podcasts with "personalities" (as opposed to people), and the one person Aaron really wants me to record with. We get into making art, how I learned to love destruction (by which I mean drawing on paper and not a computer), what it means to commit to a line, and how drawing may actually be my way of undermining other artistic pursuits. I also tell a bunch of anecdotes about guests and a set of stories about the Society of Illustrators, and we discuss the culture of Like, my desire to slow things down, the advice I tried to give Graydon Carter, and my suspicion that you're all bots, among a bazillion other topics. Follow Aaron on Instagram and listen to his music on BandCamp, and follow me on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_466_-_Gil_Roth_and_Aaron_Finkelstein.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:32am EDT

Thirty of this year's Virtual Memories Show guests tell us about the favorite books they read in 2021 and the books they hope to get to in 2022! Guests include Jonathan Baylis, Zoe Beloff, Jacques Berlinerblau, Anne Cattaneo, Michael DeForge, Shary Flenniken, Sophia Glock, Heywood Gould, Glenn Head, Ron Hogan, Kate Lacour, Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn, Matt Madden, Kate Maruyama, Robert McCrum, Robert Meagher, Anahid Nersessian, Scott Newstok, Weng Pixin, Alta Price, Keiler Roberts, Dmitry Samarov, Nadine Sergejeff, Dash Shaw, Jen Silverman, Edward Sorel, Rosemary Steinbaum, Karl Stevens, Andi Watson, and Heather Cass White (+ me)! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_465_-_The_Guest_List_2021.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:19am EDT

Artist, illustrator & author Nora Krug rejoins the show to talk about her work on the new Graphic Edition of Timothy Snyder's ON TYRANNY: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (Ten Speed Press). We get into how the project originated and how illustrating On Tyranny compelled her to live up to its lessons, her approach to illustrating the book and how a visual experience can create a new reading of it, her use of personal photographs from the Third Reich, and how this project serves as a companion to her award-winning graphic memoir BELONGING. We talk about her concerns about misread propaganda imagery, the assumptions she had to make about readers' visual literacy and what illustrations and design could constitute "hijacking" Snyder's text, the ways photographs can make people accountable, what it means when governments censor photos, and the contrasting perspectives she and Snyder brought to the book: an American facing Europe and a European facing America. We also discuss how the text was updated post-January 6 and which of its lessons are "nice" vs. "critical", the optimism that lies in the midst of the book's dire message, what she & Snyder have learned from each other during their virtual book tour, Nora's realization that she has an artistic mission for the rest of her life, and more! Follow Nora on Twitter and Instagram, and listen to Nora's 2018 episode • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_464_-_Nora_Krug.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:37pm EDT

With her wonderful new YA graphic memoir PASSPORT (Little, Brown Young Readers), Sophia Glock recounts a key moment from her teenage years: the discovery that her parents were intelligence officers for the CIA. We talk about the need to tell her story and that of the lives that touched her in the city of [REDACTED], the choice of writing for a YA audience, and what she learned to show vs. tell. We get into the challenge of maintaining the voice of adolescent Sophia without letting contemporary Sophia intrude, what embarrassed her most about revisiting those years, what it's like to have created the only comic to be reviewed by the federal government for classified material, how her parents' secret lives affected her, and how she managed to make the longest book of her career (and the most deeply personal one). We also discuss her love of the X-Men in the mid-90s and how it launched her into comics (and my own history with those Children of the Atom), how she's balanced art, work, a newborn, & family mid-pandemic, some tradecraft her parents taught her & the other traits they instilled in her, our respective control issues, what it's like talking to me without a festival table between us, and more! Follow Sophia on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_463_-_Sophia_Glock.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:16pm EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

"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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT