The Virtual Memories Show (general)

Artist, writer, humorist and cartoonist Bob Eckstein joins the show to talk about his wonderful new book, Footnotes from the World's Greatest Bookstores: True Tales and Lost Moments from Book Buyers, Booksellers, and Book Lovers. We get into the origins of the project, how he survived the sheer volume of bookstore-cat stories, how he once got dirty in the back shelves of the Strand Bookstore, getting introduced to art by Sports Illustrated, a great lesson in comic timing, getting a late start in cartooning but making up for lost time, marrying his biggest enemy from art school (and eloping to Iceland), becoming a champion of bookstore culture, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show at Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_194_-_Bob_Eckstein.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:23am EST

Ed Koren's cartoons and covers have graced The New Yorker for more than 50 years, so it was honor to record with him during CXC about his career, his perspective on generations of cartoonists, the development of his unique style (he has a good answer to my question, "Why so hairy?"), the persistence of his middle-class work ethic, his first encounter with the Undergrounds, his lithography "uptown" art, the advantages of having small ambitions, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_193_-_Ed_Koren.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:51pm EST

The great Jim Woodring rejoins the show to talk art, comics and the Unifactor! During a break at SPX 2016, we sat down to discuss the importance of Fantagraphics on its 40th anniversary, Jim's move to Seattle in the 70s and his move away from there last year, camaraderie with the artists of his generation, what he'd do if he was just starting out as a cartoonist today, the experience of seeing Frank in 3-D, the joys of drawing with a six-foot pen, just what Art is there for, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_192_-_Jim_Woodring.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:04pm EST

Ben Katchor rejoins the show to talk about the 25th anniversary edition of Cheap Novelties: The Pleasures of Urban Decay (Drawn & Quarterly)! We talk about those aforementioned pleasures, the boredom of the modern flaneur, his evolution from genre fandom to "literary comics" (my awful term, not his), the danger in comics becoming over-academic, and the challenges of writing a world history. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_191_-_Ben_Katchor.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:08pm EST

New Yorker cartoonist and women's rights activist Liza Donnelly joins the show to talk about becoming a live-drawing legend (among other things). We get into the weird overlap of respectability, responsibility and cartooning, as well as her work for Cartooning for Peace, the joys of drawing on the subway, how she benefited from Tina Brown's love of snarky women, why she's considering (but is daunted by) a long-form comic, the evolution of her feminist consciousness, and her trouble drawing George Clooney. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_190_-_Liza_Donnelly.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:56pm EST

Artist Glen Baxter joins the show for a conversation about his new collection, Almost Completely Baxter: New and Selected Blurtings (New York Review Comics). We get into the roots of his absurdism, his first visit to New York City in the '70s and how it changed his life, where his cowboy-thing started, why he doesn't define himself as either an artist or a cartoonist (but maybe as a visual poet?), the challenge of doing long-form narrative when so much of his work is single-panel, our mutual dislike of the contemporary art scene, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_189_-_Glen_Baxter.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:10pm EST

Writer and Twitter provocateur Hayley Campbell joins the show for a conversation about her inability to describe her job (don't call her a "content provider"). We talk about her obsession with obsessives, growing up in comics royalty (her dad is the great cartoonist Eddie Campbell), Alan Moore's magic tricks, her book on Neil Gaiman, nearly losing a comic-shop job because of her lack of a college degree, the celebrity retweet she's proudest of, and having an accidental career path, no fixed home, and a traumatic brain injury that gooses with her memory (and whether those are somehow connected). Also, we get into how she embarrassed Jonathan Safran Foer, how she nerded out over John Carpenter, why she took up boxing, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_188_-_Hayley_Campbell.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:19am EST

Cartoonist & illustrator Tom Gauld joins the show to talk about his new book, Mooncop (Drawn & Quarterly), and the post-optimistic view of the future. We get into his drawing and storytelling influences, how he got a weekly gig doing literary gags at The Guardian, why he likes doing illustration work, the time he melted down when he met his comics-idols, how he got his first New Yorker cover, the two key elements of productivity for all artists and writers (coffee & walking) and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

 

Direct download: Episode_187_-_Tom_Gauld.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:47pm EST

Michael Maslin joins the show to talk about his new book, Peter Arno: The Mad, Mad World of The New Yorker's Greatest Cartoonist (Regan Arts). We talk about his own career at The New Yorker, marrying a fellow cartoonist, becoming a cartoon detective, the allure of Arno and the days when cartoonists were cited in gossip mags, why it took him 15 years to write this biography, and more! (Drawing of me & Michael by Liza Donnelly) • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_186_-_Michael_Maslin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:38pm EST

Willard Spiegelman returns to the show to talk about his new book, Senior Moments: Looking Back, Looking Ahead (FSG). We get into the process of deaccessioning, Mark Strand's advice on paring down to 100 books, Willard's take on 45 years living in Dallas (and what he'll miss about it now that he's retired), the joy of getting lost in Italy, the best way to pick someone up in NYC, the contrast of his 50th high school and college reunions, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_185_-_Willard_Spiegelman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:02pm EST

Biblical scholar David M. Carr joins the show to talk about his book, Holy Resilience: The Bible's Traumatic Origin. We get into how the Hebrew and Christian scriptures were shaped, the parallels between trauma and religion, the personal trauma that led to his thesis, the perils of applying modern psychology to antiquity, how he balances his faith with his scholarship, the problems with seeing yourself as "chosen", the personal and communal trauma of 9/11, and more! • More info about this episode at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_184_-_David_M._Carr.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:33am EST

Transmedia producer Jeff Gomez (also @Jeff_Gomez) joins the show to talk about the evolution of storytelling. We get into how the internet is driving communal narrative, the role of fandom in our culture, the way every new media is touted as the Destroyer of Worlds, the outgrowth of "canonical" storytelling and his one-time role as Keeper of the Canon at a comic company, the parallels between sports-nerds and fantasy-nerds, the old entertainment properties he really wishes he could work on, and just what it was in his childhood that led him into this role. More info about this episode at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_183_-_Jeff_Gomez.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:09pm EST

"It's very, very weird to do something along with three billion other people." Cultural critic Virginia Heffernan joins the show to talk about her new book, Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art (Simon & Schuster)! We talk about what's behind the screen, why the internet is bigger than the Industrial Revolution, her first experience online in 1979, what it's like to be in a piece of performance art with half the world's population, her crushing defeat at meeting Joan Didion, why she's nostalgic for landline phones, the motive motive of Pokemon Go, asking The New York Times to host a shred-guitar competition, and why there's value in Reading The Comments! More info about this episode at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_182_-_Virginia_Heffernan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:25pm EST

Chris Rose wrote the definitive book of life in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, 1 Dead in Attic. I caught up with him for his Magical Musical Mystery History walking tour of the French Quarter, and after we sat down in Harry's Corner bar and talked about his life, his art, his three literary feuds, how he went from winning a Pulitzer Prize to waiting tables, going from celebrity-stalker to the Bard of the Crescent City, the myths and truths of the French Quarter, and a whole lot more. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show on Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_181_-_Chris_Rose.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:37pm EST

Cartoonist Leslie Stein joins the show to talk about her new book, Time Clock (Fantagraphics)! We get into her diary comics (recently collected in Bright-Eyed At Midnight), why she picked a really weird name for her ongoing comics project (Eye of the Majestic Creature), the artistic benefits of boredom, finding her style(s), drawing for online vs. print, her strategy for surviving comic cons and festival, and how she strikes a balance of cartooning, being in a band, and tending bar. Recorded at SVA in NYC. More info about this episode at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_180_-_Leslie_Stein.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:41pm EST

Rising comics star -- don't blame me, that's what Publishers Weekly just called her -- Andrea Tsurumi joins the show to talk about her new collection, Why Would You Do That? (Hic & Hoc Publications). We get into her off-kilter sense of humor and why I love it, why she chose that title, the most sadistic children's book ever written and why she adapted it, the comics industry's saving grace (it's too small to fail), staged photos during the Civil War, the challenge of teaching comics, her attempt at a work/art/life balance, the comics, cartoons and picture books that influenced/warped her, why she left New York, the truth about cakes vs. pies, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show on Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_179_-_Andrea_Tsurumi.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:01pm EST

Arthur Lubow's fantastic new book, Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer (Ecco), explores the life and death of a key figure in the history of photography-as-art. We talk about the evolution of photography from documentation to expression, the role Diane Arbus played in that transformation, her sensibility and intellect and how she expressed them both in her photography and her writing, Arbus' collaborative method of portraiture, her fascination with and sympathy for "freaks", why it's counterproductive to look to Arbus' photos for clues to her suicide, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_178_-_Arthur_Lubow.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:35pm EST

Legendary cartoonist MK Brown joins the show to talk about her lifetime in comics and art, her years with B. Kliban, the ups and downs of The National Lampoon the balancing act of motherhood and art, the trepidation at organizing a multi-decade collection of her work, her love of westerns, her secret stash of unprintable comics and gags, and why she goes by "MK". Sponsored by The American Bystander! • More info about this episode at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_177_-_MK_Brown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:15pm EST

After a remarkable 40-year career, publisher Malcolm Margolin is retiring from Heyday Books in Berkeley. He joins the show to talk about the liberation of being unimportant, why you build a roundhouse to fall apart, the "dress code" necessary to make things palatable to a mainstream audience, the craziest golf foursome ever, the two-week-plus run of LSD that may have changed his life, his efforts to chronicle California Indian culture, his next act(s), and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

 

Direct download: Episode_176_-_Malcolm_Margolin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:29pm EST

Legendary artist and cartoonist Paul Mavrides joins the show to talk about Underground Comix, the Church of the SubGenius, the Zapruder film, black mold, Idiots Abroad, Richard Nixon's threat on his life, and the time he traded an issue of Zap Comix for a copy of Awake! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

 

Direct download: Episode_175_-_Paul_Mavrides.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:48pm EST

Why did former publisher and book editor Ann Patty start studying Latin at age 58? Find out in our conversation about her book, Living with a Dead Language: My Romance with Latin (Viking). We talk about her deep dive into a dead language, the "Living Latinist" revival, her unceremonious exit from the NY publishing world, the terror of the blank page, the perils of groupthink, how her pursuit of Latin reconciled her to the memory of her mother, and more! More info about this episode at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_174_-_Ann_Patty.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:30am EST

My two-year term at St. John's College's Graduate Institute was the most important part of my life. During my recent trip back to Annapolis, I sat down with SJC's outgoing president Christopher Nelson to talk about lessons learned during his 26-year tenure, the books that guided him to the college, the ones he returns to, and the ones that gave him the most trouble as an undergrad, what he'll miss and what he hopes to do next, his key advice for his successor, and more! More info about this episode at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_173_-_Christopher_Nelson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:31pm EST

Glynnis Fawkes joins the show to talk about archeology, comics, dig romances, Homer and more! We celebrate her award-winning new comic, Alle Ego, figure out how to make art while raising a family (hint: mine your family to make the art), explore the correlation of Greek vases to comics, and lament the savage history of Troy and Gallipoli, while embracing the comics-centric world of Angouleme! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show at Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_172_-_Glynnis_Fawkes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:05pm EST

Jim Ottaviani joins the show to talk about his new graphic biography, The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded, drawn by Leland Purvis (Abrams ComicArts). We get into how Jim went from nuclear engineering to writing comics about scientists, what drew him to the life of Alan Turing, why emotional truth plus factual truth must be greater than 100%, the challenge of conveying hard concepts and theories to lay-readers, the difference between ordinary geniuses and extraordinary geniuses, how his engineering background feeds his storytelling mode, and more! More info available at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_171_-_Jim_Ottaviani.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:44am EST

In the inaugural episode of #NJPoet's Corner, Chuck Bivona (aka #NJPoet) talks about his evolution on Twitter with Virtual Memories Show host Gil Roth

Direct download: Episode_1_-_My_Twitter_Life.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:35am EST

The Paying For It Players return! Chester Brown and Nina Bunjevac rejoin the show to perform a chapter from Chester's amazing new book, Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus! Then we talk with Chester about his understanding of God, the role of prostitution in the Bible, and the girlfriend who got him started reading Biblical scholarship. Then Nina Bunjevac talks about her response to the European book tour for Fatherland, and her lament for small bookstores in North America. Plus, Charles Bivona's monthly #NJPoet's Corner segment focuses on his life on Twitter! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show on Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_170_-_Chester_Brown__Nina_Bunjevac_w_NJPoets_Corner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:30pm EST

David Mikics joins the show to talk about his new book, Bellow's People: How Saul Bellow Made Life Into Art (Norton). We talk about Bellow's legacy, his transmutations of life into art, David's humorously accidental introduction to his work, whether Philip Roth was right when he told Bruce Jay Friedman, "Saul Bellow am de daddy of us all," and more. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_169_-_David_Mikics.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:55pm EST

Harry Katz, former head curator of prints and photographs for the Library of Congress, joins the show to talk about his new project on David Levine, his love for Herblock, how his work on the Civil War and baseball differs from Ken Burns' work on same, what it was like to assemble the LoC's archive of 9/11 photography and pictures, the process of learning how to see images critically, the tragic story of Arthur Szyk, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_168_-_Harry_Katz.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:26pm EST

John Holl joins the show to talk about his new book, Dishing Up New Jersey: 150 Recipes from the Garden State (with photos by my wife)! We also get into his work as editor of All About Beer, becoming a journalist at 16, traveling to Cuba, all the weird ingredients that craft beers incorporate, why he thinks NJ is the best dining state in the country, and more! Recorded at Carton Brewing Co.

Direct download: Episode_167_-_John_Holl.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:06pm EST

BenModel joins the show to talk about his career as a silent-filmaccompanist. It's a fascinating conversation about music, audience,cinema, mentorship, technology, crowdsourcing, the permission to laugh, thefleetingness of reputation, the reasons we make art, and why littlekids lose their minds over the Stan Laurel short Oranges andLemons. More info at our site • Support The VirtualMemories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_166_-_Ben_Model.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:40pm EST

Fred Kaplan rejoins the show to talk about his new book, Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War (Simon & Schuster). (We last talked in 2013). We get into the tangled, wild-west story of how cyber warfare is waged, where it might go in future, and why it's the ultimate asymmetric warfare. Then Charles Bivona joins us for a monthly installment of #NJPoet's Corner, where we focus on his dream course: Batman Studies. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_165_-_Fred_Kaplan_w_NJPoets_Corner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:08pm EST

Kliph Nesteroff joins the show to talk about his new book, The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels, and the History of American Comedy (Grove Press). We discuss the evolution of comedy over the century (from vaudeville to comedy podcasters), the twin themes of struggle and influence, the connect-the-dots game of comedic lineage, the stories that didn't make it into the book, comedy's role in the civil rights struggle, Kliph's autodidactic background and how it shapes his pursuit of history, the story of how he got kicked out of high school, and more! Plus, Liz Hand calls in to talk about the publication of her new Cass Neary novel, Hard Light! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show on Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_164_-_Kliph_Nesteroff__Liz_Hand.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:06pm EST

David Leopold, author of The Hirschfeld Century: Portrait of an Artist and His Age (Knopf), joins the show to talk about his work with the great artist Al Hirschfeld, running the Ben Solowey Studio, curating museum exhibitions, following The Grateful Dead, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_163_-_David_Leopold.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:41pm EST

Phoebe Gloeckner, the author of The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures joins the podcast on way too little sleep to talk about transgressing borders: national borders, panel borders, and familial borders. We talk about Diary's hybrid structure and why it would have been unpitchable to a publisher (luckily, she had a two-book contract), the tightrope of portraying a 15-year-old girl's affair with her mother's 30-something boyfriend without making her strictly a victim or "asking for it", and some audiences' obsession with "the facts" of the book. We also get into her ongoing, decade-long multi-media project to recreate the life of a murder victim in Juarez, Mexico, her place in the comics scene (too young for the undergrounds, too old for the alternatives), her unrepeatable approach to making art, her crazy evening with Matt Groening, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_162_-_Phoebe_Gloeckner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:32pm EST

Dan Perkins (aka Tom Tomorrow) celebrates the publication of 25 Years of Tomorrow with The Virtual Memories Show at his book launch party at Mark Twain House! We follow up our July 2015 conversation with a fun on-stage interview, plus Q&A with Dan's fans. Then we launch #NJPoet's Corner, a monthly feature with philosopher-historian-zen-monk-poet Charles Bivona! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_161_-_Dan_Perkins_Tom_Tomorrow__NJPoets_Corner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:01pm EST

Digital media visionary Bob Stein joins the show to talk about the future of media creation and consumption, the synthesis of Marx & McLuhan, his hopes for VR, and more! Then Ashton Applewhite discusses the publication of her new book, This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism! We talk about the pervasiveness of ageism, delusional expectations, what she learned from dyeing her hair gray, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_160_-_Bob_Stein__Ashton_Applewhite.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:23pm EST

"When you translate, you are digging into not so much the psyche of the author but the psyche of the author's use of language." Translator and emeritus literature professor Burton Pike joins the show to talk about the musicality and rhythm of language, the experience of translating early Proust, whether national literature departments are an outdated concept, the peculiarities of various Swiss ethnicities, how his dream project -- Musil's The Man Without Qualities -- fell into his lap, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_159_-_Burton_Pike.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:23am EST

In his new comix memoir, Chicago (Fantagraphics), Glenn Head follows Orwell's maxim, "Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful." We talk about how he approached his first long-form comic after decades in the field, what prompted him to chronicle his mid-'70s self, the allure of the Undergrounds, how his next work may mirror another bit of Orwelliana, and why it's always good to delate your heroes. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_158_-_Glenn_Head.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:55pm EST

Dan Cafaro, publisher of Atticus Books and the Atticus Review Online, joins the show to talk about indy publishing, building a writers' community, the diversity challenge, and more! Recorded at Short Stories Community Book Hub. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show at Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_157_-_Dan_Cafaro.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:43pm EST

Translator Ross Benjamin joins the show to talk about curating Festival Neue Literatur 2016, which is being held Feb. 25-28, 2016! Along the way, we talk about German humor, translating Kafka's diaries, why he'd love to learn Yiddish, and more! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show at Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_156_-_Ross_Benjamin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:36pm EST

Christopher Kloeble joins the show to talk about his first US publication, Almost Everything Very Fast (Graywolf Press)! We discuss the perils of translation, German sense of humor, becoming a Person of Indian Origin, the peculiarities of Bavarian pride, and transcending the limits of empathy in prose! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show at Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_155_-_Christopher_Kloeble.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:45pm EST

Kriota Willberg joins the show to talk about her work teaching anatomy, pathology, drawing, and massage, and how she keeps cartoonists from suffering work-related injuries (or art-related injuries, I suppose) through her minicomics and exercise programs. We also talk about the challenges of delivering pathology gags, making needlepoint of medical images, becoming a dancer and becoming an ex-dancer, learning not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, growing up nerd in central Washington, and why it's not good to tell jokes when you're in the middle of surgery. BONUS: Paul Di Filippo chimes in on his new Kickstarter project, The Black Mill! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show at Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_154_-_Kriota_Willberg.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:03pm EST

Poet Rachel Hadas returns to the show to talk about her new books, Talking To The Dead, and Questions in the Vestibule. It's been two years since we talked, so I had loads of questions for her. How did she rediscover love after losing her husband to early onset dementia? Why is translation like her Sudoku? How did she wind up pals with James Merrill (and what's her take on his Ouija poems)? What do we lose and gain in the act of translation? And how did she become a love poet after spending her career writing elegies? Listen in for a great conversation! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show at Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_153_-_Rachel_Hadas.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:54pm EST

Carol Tyler spent 10 years making Soldier's Heart: The Campaign to Understand My WWII Veteran Father: A Daughter's Memoir (Fantagraphics). We sat down at her home in Cincinnati to talk about her perspective on the book now that it's in her rear-view mirror. We also talk about the glass ceiling for female cartoonists, what it means to be a parent first and cartoonist second, how her dad's PTSD affected so much of her life, how she drew the last part of Soldier's Heart in hospital rooms, going on food stamps in the midst of this project, her struggle to retain her hippie-ish enthusiasm during a period of heavy loss (4 family members and 3 close friends in 4 years), and how she broke into a frat-house to steal post-party empties for recycling. It's a fun, deep conversation with a master cartoonist (even when it borders on Gil-as-therapist)! More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show at Patreon

Direct download: Episode_152_-_Carol_Tyler.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:53pm EST

The great literary critic and professor Harold Bloom joins the show to talk about his new book, The Daemon Knows, and how it captures his lifetime of reading, teaching and writing. We talk about his long struggle with T.S. Eliot, how he wants to be remembered (and whether he he thinks he will be remembered), the best novel he's ever read, his battles against the School of Resentment, the writers he's re-evaluated in his later years, what he's learned from 61 years of teaching at Yale, what it's like to spend a life in books, and more! There may not be another episode that better epitomizes "a podcast about books and life -- not necessarily in that order".

More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show at Patreon

Direct download: Episode_151_-_Harold_Bloom.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:14pm EST

Artist Molly Crabapple joins the show to talk about writing her new memoir, Drawing Blood (Harper), making illustrated journalism from Syria, Guantanamo and Abu Dhabi, growing into her parents' legacy of art, Marxism and argumentation, finding her soul in the Damascus Room at the Met, balancing community and competition, stepping back from the idea that we're in an "Age of Outrage" and more!

More info about this episoide at our siteSupport the Virtual Memories Show at Patreon

Direct download: Episode_150_-_Molly_Crabapple.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:47pm EST

Gentleman cartoonist Keith Knight joins the show to talk about comics, race, how he would fix the Star Wars prequels, his career as a Michael Jackson impersonator, the literature course that made him a political artist, giving campus lectures on race relations, the importance of crowdfunding, the reasons he sticks with a daily comic strip, why you never see black people on Antiques Roadshow, the songs that will turn any party out (excluding tracks by MJ and Prince) and the case for Off The Wall over Thriller, whether it's an honor or a disgrace to be the first non-white guest on this podcast in two years, and more! Plus, I launch a Patreon for the Virtual Memories Show!

Direct download: Episode_149_-_Keith_Knight.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:05pm EST

More than 30 of the year's Virtual Memories Show guests tell us about the favorite books they read in 2015 and the books they hope to get to in 2016! Guests include Derf Backderf, Anthea Bell, John Clute, Michael Dirda, Matt Farber, Jonathan Galassi, Brad Gooch, Langdon Hammer, Liz Hand, Jennifer Hayden, Ron Hogan, Dylan Horrocks, David Jaher, Kathe Koja, Jonathan Kranz, Peter Kuper, Lorenzo Mattotti, JD McClatchy, Scott McCloud, Michael Meyer, Dan Perkins (a.k.a Tom Tomorrow), Summer Pierre, Witold Rybczynski, Dmitry Samarov, Elizabeth Samet, Liesl Schillinger, Posy Simmonds, Levi Stahl, Rupert Thomson, Irvine Welsh, Warren Woodfin, Jim Woodring, Claudia Young, and me, Gil Roth! Check out their selections at our site!

Direct download: Episode_148_-_The_Guest_List_2015.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:45pm EST

Alt-comix lifer Peter Kuper joins the show to talk about his new graphic novel, RUINS (Self-Made Hero), co-creating World War 3 Illustrated, teaching at Harvard, trying to fight climate change, building your own artistic scene, being one of the only people who followed through on the "if Bush/Cheney are re-elected, I'm leaving America" pledge, and more!

Direct download: Episode_147_-_Peter_Kuper.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:43pm EST

David Jaher joins the show to talk about his amazing new book, The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World (Crown). It's a great conversation about Spiritualism, the Jazz Age, fame, the need to believe in an afterlife, the benefits of astrology, and of course, HOUDINI!

Direct download: Episode_146_-_David_Jaher.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:41pm EST

Novelist and immersive theater director Kathe Koja joins the show to talk about her new novel, The Bastards' Paradise, the arc of her career from splatterpunk (hey, it was the '90s) to YA to the 19th C. romance of her Poppy trilogy, the meaning of Detroit, her life-changing experience at a staging of Sleep No More, the joys (and perils) of defying genre conventions, and more! Then John Clute returns to the show to talk about establishing the Clute Science Fiction Library @ Telluride! Also, he uses the word "haecceity" in conversation, which is a Virtual Memories first!

Direct download: Episode_145_-_Kathe_Koja_and_John_Clute.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:32pm EST

UK cartooning legend Posy Simmonds, MBE (Gemma Bovery, Tamara Drewe) joins the show to talk about her career, discovering her long-form voice, being a "literary" cartoonist, being raised on American comics and Americana in postwar Britain, why her characters occasionally get trampled by livestock, what the French word is for comics with too many word balloons, and more!

Direct download: Episode_144_-_Posy_Simmonds.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:32pm EST

Graphic Lives! Jennifer Hayden (The Story of My Tits) and Summer Pierre (Paper Pencil Life) join us for a live episode of the The Virtual Memories Show, recorded at Labyrinth Books in Princeton, NJ! We talk about comics, cancer, middle age, art vs. work, learning compassion through memoir, and more!

Direct download: Episode_143_-_Jennifer_Hayden_and_Summer_Pierre.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:09pm EST

Rupert Thomson returns to the show to talk about his new novel, Katherine Carlyle (Other Press, 2015). We also discuss IVF babies, researching "in character", keeping the reader's interest in a "road movie" novel, prioritizing imaginary facts above real facts, his pros & cons list for becoming a parent, the challenge of writing a novel about a father's fear for his child's safety, the long and short answer of "Where do you get your ideas?", how he got James Salter to blurb his new book, and more!

Direct download: Episode_142_-_Rupert_Thomson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:11pm EST

Designer, editor and publisher Francoise Mouly joins the show to talk about 20+ years of New Yorker covers, launching TOON Books and cultivating a love for print, the pros and cons of going viral, the changing definitions of what's offensive (and the time she got hauled into a meeting with an Arab Anti-Defamation League), the notion that comics are the gateway drug for reading, and more! (Sorry, no talk about her time with RAW magazine, since she and her husband, Art Spiegelman were interviewed about that later at the festival.) This episode is part of our Cartoon Crossroads Columbus series of live podcasts.

Direct download: Episode_141_-_Francoise_Mouly.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:55pm EST

Dylan Horrocks, the cartoonist behind Hicksville (Drawn and Quarterly) and Sam Zabel And The Magic Pen (Fantagraphics), comes from New Zealand to join the show to talk about his fear of comics, our responsibility for our fantasies, the way he built a fruitful career around creative block, the influence of Maori culture on white New Zealanders' perspectives, the way his backup stories keep becoming his major projects, his take on the Charlie Hebdo massacre and how it ties into his experience with the fatwa on Salman Rushdie, the idea that America is a story we tell ourselves, and more! Part of our Cartoon Crossroads Columbus series of live podcasts.

Direct download: Episode_140_-_Dylan_Horrocks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:44am EST

Derf Backderf made a mid-career course correction, going from alt-weekly cartoons to full-length graphic novels like My Friend Dahmer and his new book Trashed (Abrams Comicarts). He joins us as part of the CXC festival to talk about that transition, how he became political years after being a political cartoonist, the impact of Ohio's rustbelt disintegration on his worldview, and the surprise of his success in Europe. How do you go from garbageman to winner of the Angouleme prize? Find out from Derf Backderf in this week's Virtual Memories Show!

Direct download: Episode_139_-_Derf_Backderf.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:35pm EST

Bill Griffith is best known for nearly 30 years of daily comic strips featuring the absurd, surreal American treasure known as Zippy the Pinhead, but he's also the author of the amazing new graphic memoir, Invisible Ink: My Mother's Love Affair With A Famous Cartoonist (Fantagraphics). This episode features a 2-part conversation about his new book, his history in underground comics, the birth of Zippy, and more! Part of our Cartoon Crossroads Columbus series of interviews.

Direct download: Episode_138_-_Bill_Griffith.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:36pm EST

Is Scott McCloud comics' leading theorist or a deranged lunatic? Find out in this lengthy conversation we recorded during SPX 2015! Scott talks about applying (and forgetting) the lessons of Understanding Comics in his new book, The Sculptor (First Second), the massive implications of crowdfunding for cartoonists and other creators, the problems with 'balance' in comics pages, his rebellion against Facebook, the Laurie Anderson model of comics, how he defines success, how to keep a happy marriage inside the comics world, and more!

Direct download: Episode_137_-_Scott_McCloud.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:54pm EST

The great poet, critic, librettist and bon vivant J.D. McClatchy joins the show to talk about outliving his idols, adapting my favorite novel to opera, having his life changed by Harold Bloom, collecting letters from the likes of Proust and Housman, and marrying Chip Kidd! We also get into his friendship with James Merrill, pop culture's triumph over high culture, his genetic inability to read comics, why he loathed Ezra Pound as a person and as an artist, how sexual politics has replaced social politics, the experience of teaching the first gay literature course at Yale in 1978 (and getting dropped because of it), and how a serious poet writes for the dead, not the living.

Direct download: Episode_136_-_J.D._McClatchy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:45am EST

Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh joins the show to talk about writing, choosing Chicago over LA & NYC, his fascination with boxing, the art world, and the White Sox, the narcissism of online living, the critique of global capitalism, the phases of life he enjoys writing about, and how he used to sneak into the library when his schoolmates weren't looking. Then writer/artist Dmitry Samarov rejoins the show to talk about the joys of getting off the social network treadmill.

Direct download: Episode_135_-_Irvine_Welsh_and_Dmitry_Samarov.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:22pm EST

Warren Woodfin joins the show to talk about guest-curating Liturgical Textiles of the Post-Byzantine World at the Met (runs through Nov. 1, 2015). We also find out how he became a medieval art historian, the perils of archeolgoical digs in post-Soviet Ukraine, the bum rap art history gets from STEM proponents, and more!

Direct download: Episode_134_-_Angel_Lion_Ox_Eagle.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:15pm EST

Stona Fitch joins the show to talk about his careers as a novelist, a publisher, and a freelance writer, the benefits of corporate hackwork, his decision to use the pen name Rory Flynn for his new novel, Third Rail, what led him to write one of the most disturbing novels ever, the value of giving something beautiful away, and more!

Direct download: Episode_133_-_What_If_We_Give_It_Away_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:17pm EST

Christopher Bollen, author of the new novel Orient (Harper, 2015), talks about the difference between a murder mystery and a literary thriller, the perils of Male First Novel Syndrome, how he discovered the very end of the North Fork of Long Island, why it's too easy to write a parody of the contemporary art world, how his years at Inteview magazine honed his ear for dialogue, and more! (Also, you get my story about inadvertently blowing up a shopping mall when I was in high school.)

Direct download: Episode_132_-_Rootless_People.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EST

John Clute, author, critic, and science fiction encyclopedist, joins the show at Readercon 2015 to talk about aftermath culture, SF's ghettoization, the triumph of Ishiguro's The Buried Giant, the failure of moats, and why late-period Bob Dylan is radically more interesting than the early model.

Direct download: Episode_131_-_Ever_After.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:20pm EST

Elizabeth Samet, professor of English at West Point and author of Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point and No Man's Land: Preparing for War and Peace in Post-9/11 America (and editor of the newly published Leadership: Essential Writings by Our Greatest Thinkers), joins the show to talk about teaching the humanities in the military, why she balked at learning the fine art of parachuting, how she tried (and failed) to convince Robert Fagles that Hector is the moral center of the Iliad, and a whole lot more! Bonus: I tell a long, awful and emotional story around the 75-minute mark. NOTE: The opinions Elizabeth Samet expresses in this interview are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of West Point, the Department of the Army, or the Department of Defense.

Direct download: Episode_130_-_The_Cult_of_Experience_and_the_Tyranny_of_Relevance.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:15pm EST

Amanda Filipacchi joins the show to discuss her newest novel, The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty: A Novel (WW Norton), her solution to sexism in publishing, her garden-of-forking-paths approach to fiction, and more!

Direct download: Episode_129_-_Donkey_Skin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:04pm EST

"I remain certain that there is no one else who has had this sort of aesthetic influence." So says Rhonda K. Garelick, author of Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History. We talk about Chanel's impact on women's fashion and French national identity, how she managed not to get tried for collaboration after the war, the one figure from our age who compares to Chanel, and what it's like teaching the accordion-and-beret crowd.

Direct download: Episode_128_-_Impecunious_Nobles.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:33pm EST

Pulitzer Prize-winning book reviewer Michael Dirda rejoins the show to talk about his new collection, Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books (Pegasus Books). We discuss the importance of reading for pleasure, the difference between book-collecting and shopping, the role of the book reviewer (and how it differs from that of the critic), a recent negative review he didn't want to write, why he doesn't read reviews of his work, what his mother said when he won the Pulitzer Prize, and more!

Direct download: Episode_127_-_The_Meandering_Reflections_of_a_Literary_Sybarite.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:02pm EST

Award-winning author Elizabeth Hand joins the Virtual Memories Show to talk about her latest novel, Wylding Hall. We also talk about her need to try different genres, getting pigeonholed by the literary establishment, how abandoning the supernatural for her noir novels was like working without a net, how her success at writing may be attributable to the Helsinki Bus Syndrome, what it was like to be at the punk scene in the mid-'70s, how she learned to strip down her prose for her recent (and excellent) noir crime novels, just how she ended up in coastal Maine, and more!

Direct download: Episode_126_-_People_From_Away.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:04pm EST

Dan Perkins (a.k.a. Tom Tomorrow) joins the Virtual Memories Show to talk about 25 years of making This Modern World, his new Kickstarter that annihilated all expectations and left him a gibbering (but very thankful) wreck, the lessons he learned from Charles Schulz, what it'll take for him to get a tattoo of Sparky the Penguin, and more!

Direct download: Episode_125_-_Signal_Boost.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:02pm EST

Jonathan David Kranz joins the show to talk about his new novel, Our Brothers at the Bottom of the Bottom of the Sea (Henry Holt). We talk about what makes the Jersey Shore different from any other seaside amusement region, what he learned while writing for the YA category, the value of Grub Street writing courses vs. an MFA, why Tillie is a Jungian archetype, and more!

Direct download: Episode_124_-_Dont_Fall.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:21pm EST

Professor Langdon Hammer joins the show to talk about his monumental new biography, James Merrill: Life and Art (Knopf). We discuss Merrill's significance as a poet and the alchemy that allowed him to turn base wealth into artistic gold. Hammer also talks about learning the art of literary biography on the fly, the challenge of recreating Merrill's life in Greece, how we can understand the Ouija board-derived poems of Merrill's masterwork, and more!

Direct download: Episode_123_-_The_Hidden_Wish_of_Words.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:05pm EST

Farrar Straus Giroux president Jonathan Galassi has spent a lifetime in the literary publishing world, but now he gets to experience it all over again as a debut novelist! We talk about Muse (Knopf), how he had to short-circuit his editorial style in order to write what he thinks of the future (and past) of publishing, and more!

Direct download: Episode_122_-_A_Muse_Apart.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm EST

British author Christie Watson joins the Virtual Memories Show to talk about her newest novel, Where Women Are Kings. We discuss the process of adoption, her history with Nigeria (and why she loves its literary scene), the trick of balancing cultural differences and societal norms, and how she became a writer after years of planning her book tour outfits.

Direct download: Episode_121_-_The_Limits_of_Love.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:08pm EST

The great Lorenzo Mattotti joins the Virtual Memories Show to talk about art, comics, fashion, and the trees of Patagonia. It's a fascinating conversation about how a master of artistic manners has learned the joy of improvisation, why he likes working with writers, how he got started in fashion illustration, and what his parents made of his decision to become an artist.

Direct download: Episode_120_-_Laboratory_of_Imagination.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:14pm EST

Cartoonist Chester Brown joins the show to talk about his life in comics, his history with prostitutes, his evolution into libertarianism, the catharsis of autobiography, and more! Plus, Nina Bunjevac sits in for a performance by the Paying for It Players!

Direct download: Episode_119_-_Paid_In_Full.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:04pm EST

It's VMS Live! This episode comes from the panel, "Satirical Representations of Hitler in Contemporary Culture," held May 6, 2015 at the Goethe-Institut in NYC, in conjunction with the German Book Office! Panelists were Gavriel Rosenfeld, Liesl Schillinger and Timur Vermes, author of Look Who's Back, a satiric novel in which Hitler finds himself alive in 2011 Berlin. Listen to find out when it's okay to make fun of Hitler, the peril of laughing too much at him, and what the author learned in the process of writing in AH's voice! Photo credit © Goethe-Institut New York / Jacobia Dahm

Direct download: Episode_118_-_Table_Talk.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:15pm EST

Artist Jonah Kinigstein is having his moment... at 92! His venomous editorial cartoons have been collected in a new book, The Emperor's New Clothes, and gained him an exhibition at the Society of Illustrators. We talk about where modern art went wrong, what he learned in his Paris years, what drives him to keep painting in his 10th decade, and more!

Direct download: Episode_117_-_Vernissage.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:26pm EST

Thane Rosenbaum makes his second appearance on the show to talk about his new novel, How Sweet It Is! (Mandel Vilar Press), as well as his family history in '70s Miami, his path to becoming a novelist and human rights lawyer, the relative lunacy of First and Second Amendment absolutists, the allure of print, growing up in a city without a bookstore, and the fate of European Jewry.

Direct download: Episode_116_-_Magic_City.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:12pm EST

Professor Edward Mendelson joins the show to talk about his new memoir, Moral Agents: Eight Twentieth-Century American Writers (New York Review Books), which profiles Lionel Triling, Dwight Macdonald, Alfred Kazin, William Maxwell, Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, WH Auden, Frank O'Hara. We discuss the role of individuals in mass culture, the intellectual's temptation to be a leader, the outdated figure of the Beloved Professor, Orwell's misinterpretation of Auden, the writer he was terrified to meet, the failures of identity politics, the purpose of Columbia University's Core Curriculum, his lack of nostalgia for the era of public intellectuals, the way certain books need a year off from teaching in order to recharge, and more.

Direct download: Episode_115_-_Idlers_and_Belgians.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:09pm EST

Brad Gooch joins the show to talk about his new memoir, Smash Cut, stumbling into a career as a literary biographer, his forthcoming bio of Rumi, the Life-During-Wartime aspect of the AIDS era in New York City, becoming a dad at 63, and the life and love of Howard Brookner.

Direct download: Episode_114_-_Roller_Coaster.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:41am EST

When he was a kid in Minnesota, Michael Meyer papered his walls with National Geographic maps. A Peace Corps stint in 1995 began his 20-year odyssey in China, yielding two books, true love, and a unique perspective on the world's most populous country. We talk about his latest book, In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China, life in rural China compared to suburban MN, the country's changes in the past two decades, the flexibility of the Communist party, China's uses and abuses of history, the tortured history of the Manchuria region, the need to explode Americans' myths about the country and its people, our favorite jet-lag remedies, the Chinese use of "uh" as a conversational placeholder, and more!

Direct download: Episode_113_-_Palimpsest.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:16pm EST

The great poet, essayist, novelist, memoirist and TV host Clive James joins the show to talk about poetry, mortality, TV, Cultural Amnesia, Australia, his literary legacy and how his showbiz career helped and hurt it, and a lot more.

Direct download: Episode_112_-_Remainder.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:45pm EST

Playwright and author Yasmina Reza joins the show to talk about her new book, Happy are the Happy (Other Press). We also discuss the confluence and divergence of love and happiness, her surprise when her play Art was produced in Iran and Afghanistan, the appeal of Sarkozy as a literary character, her love of The Wire, and why she let James Gandolfini transpose The God of Carnage from Paris to Brooklyn.

Direct download: Episode_107_-_Silence_in_Translation.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:30pm EST

Educator Matt Farber joins the show to talk about his new book, Gamify Your Classroom: A Field Guide to Game-Based Learning (Peter Lang Academic). We talk about edutainment's bad rep, developing good games for students, getting getting buy-in from faculty, administration and -- most importantly -- students, the subjects that benefit most from game-based learning, why Pandemic is the best game he's ever used to teach, and more!

Direct download: Episode_106_-_The_Magic_Circle.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:47am EST

Artist Mimi Gross joins the show to talk about her art, her life, and the joys of collaboration. How did she carve out an identity separate from "daughter of sculptor Chaim Gross" and "wife of artist Red Grooms"? Listen to the conversation to find out!

Direct download: Episode_105_-_Sincere_Observation.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:15pm EST

Editor, book-blogger and podcaster Ron Hogan joins the show to talk about his 20-year history with the literary intenet, launching Beatrice.com, taking the wrong lessons from the work of Harlan Ellison, defending Hudson Hawk, retaining his inner fanboy, discovering romance fiction, overcoming gender/race imbalances in publishing (and podcasting), and generally trying to overthrow the hegemony. But first, Josh Alan Friedman reminisces about Joe Franklin!

Direct download: Episode_104_-_It_Came_from_Gen_X.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:07am EST

The great cartoonist Jim Woodring joins the show to talk about comics, surrealism, Vedanta, the principle of fluorescence, and why he may be the reincarnation of Herbert E. Crowley! While he was in town for his first solo gallery show, Jim and I met up to talk about his conception of the universe, how his FRANK comics have and haven't evolved in 20+ years, how art can convey the existence of something it can't show, why it's easier to express the grotesque than the beautiful, why younger cartoonists may be lacking the bitter, competitive drive of past generations, and why I think the Prado is a second-rate museum!

Direct download: Episode_103_-_Nostalgia_of_the_Infinite.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:01pm EST

More than 30 of this year's podcast guests tell us about the favorite books they read in 2014! Guests include Maria Alexander, Ashton Applewhite, David Baerwald, Nina Bunjevac, Roz Chast, Sarah Deming, Michael Dirda, Jules Feiffer, Mark Feltskog, Mary Fleener, Nathan Fox, Josh Alan Friedman, Richard Gehr, Paul Gravett, Sam Gross, Rachel Hadas, Kaz, Daniel Levine, Sara Lippmann, Merrill Markoe, Brett Martin, Mimi Pond, George Prochnik, Emily Raboteau, Jonathan Rose, Ron Rosenbaum, Dmitry Samarov, Seth, Katie Skelly, Ron Slate, Maya Stein, Rupert Thomson, and Frank Wilson! Check out the list of books at our site!

Direct download: Season_4_Episode_48_-_The_Guest_List_2014.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:59am EST

Mucho Cubismo! Mary Fleener joins the show to talk about her career in cartooning, her love/hate relationship with LA (mostly hate now, but there was a little love in the early days), the Zora Neale Hurston story that made a cartoonist out of her, the tale of how Matt Groening accidentally derailed her career, the roots of her Cubismo drawing style, the joys of simplifying her life, the new book she's working on, the horrors of The Comics Journal's message board, and more!

Direct download: Season_4_Episode_45_-_Our_Lady_of_Organized_Vituperation.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:42pm EST

Richard Gehr's new book, I Only Read It for the Cartoons: The New Yorker's Most Brilliantly Twisted Artists, profiles a dozen of the great cartoonists at The New Yorker. We talk about his lifelong love for the magazine, making a career out of his weird enthusiasms, being in the Boy Scouts with Matt Groening, discovering Bob Mankoff's Database of Humor and the evil experiment of The Caption Contest, and the all-time best "celebrity I plotzed over" story in the history of this podcast!

Direct download: Season_4_Episode_42_-_I_Was_a_Teenage_Structuralist.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:51am EST

Frank Wilson, book reviewer, columnist and founder of the Books, Inq. blog, completes our August book critics miniseries! Frank talks about 50 years in the book review biz, the similarities of poetry and religion, whether Catholics can write good novels, the perils of using big-name writers as book reviewers, the biggest gap in his literary background, his underrated/overrated ranks, and more!

Direct download: Season_4_Episode_31_-_Critical_Mass.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

Tova Mirvis joins The Virtual Memories Show to talk about her brand-new novel, Visible City and how she learned to act on her unhappiness, as well as the lifelong advice she got from Mary Gordon, the ways that writing a book is like building a stained-glass window, why being an orthodox Jew in Memphis wasn't just like Designing Women with better wigs, and the advantages of being offline for a week when the New York Times publishes your op-ed about getting divorced.

"I set up a scenario where all of my characters were unhappy in one way or another, and they were all watching other people, as opposed to looking inward at their own lives. I didn't know what people do about that. I was writing a realistic novel, but part of me believed that no one actually acts on their unhappiness."

We also talk about how one person’s urge to freedom is another person’s betrayal, why Visible City took her 10 years to write, what you can discover about yourself in your 40s and what you can leave behind, and the varieties of religious experience (ours, not William James’).

"Orthodox Judaism and southern culture meld beautifully. In the south, there's a way we do things and a way we don't do things. And it's the same in orthodox Judaism. They're both very well-structured worlds. I grew up as a sort of cocktail of those two worlds."

BONUS! You also get my essay/monologue about Jews & Geordies!

Direct download: Season_4_Episode_12_-_Window_Pain.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:56am EST

"Being an artist and talking about being an artist is a lot about trying to suss out your audience: how much do they know about art, how much do they care, is a casual question, or are they deeply invested in the answer?"

How did Bean Gilsdorf go from studying linguistics to becoming an artist, critic and curator? While in NYC for the opening of her three-person show, Dead Ringer, Bean joined us to talk about making the decision to be an artist, building a career without mass-marketing her art, escaping the tautology of process, the value of getting an MFA, the most asked question at her arts column at the Daily Serving, the difference between the fictional and the imaginary, and more!

“I want to be the kind of artist who amuses myself. . . . I reserve the right to have the last laugh."

We also talk about her current work — including her Borgesian Exhibition That Might Exist (in Portland), and the Bean Gilsdorf Living History Museum (in San Francisco), which has transformed her apartment into the world’s smallest living history museum — as well as her process of understanding her audience(s), her discovery that sometimes the problem is you and not your materials, and how she reconciles all of her past selves and muses over her future ones.

Direct download: Season_4_Episode_6_-_The_Realm_of_the_Possible.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EST

"Comics is a medium that isn't going to go away. It may just now finally be coming into its own in the 21st century. In this internet era, there's something very special about what comics do, no matter how much they get warped and changed by technology."

Paul Gravett, British comics' The Man at the Crossroads, talks about his new book, Comics Art (Yale University Press), the new exhibition he's curating for the British Library, Comics Unmasked: Art & Anarchy in the UK, the history of comics and his history within it, and the way virtually every lifelong comics reader's home winds up resembling an episode of Hoarders. He's one of comics' finest ambassadors, and it was a pleasure to talk with him during my recent UK trip.

"I'm probably slightly insane for wanting to go on looking and searching and questioning and provoking myself, trying to find stuff that doesn't give me what I know already."
Direct download: Season_4_Episode_5_-_Feeling_Gravetts_Pull.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Josh Alan Friedman, author of Black Cracker, is the third Friedman brother I've interviewed, as part of my "Capturing the (Other) Friedmans" series of podcasts. (I really gotta rename that.) Josh is an accomplished author and guitarist, and has plenty of stories of New York at its most sordid. We met up at a cafe in Times Square to talk about his old days writing for Al Goldstein's Screw magazine, why it took him more than 30 years to write Black Cracker, his "Lewis & Martin" theory about his estrangement from his brother Drew, his parents' successful divorce, and more!

Along the way, we also develop an idea for a high-concept movie, talk lewdly in front of some tourists, and figure out that therapy just gets in the way of making good art. If you've got a problem with any of that (especially the coarse language) then you should skip this episode.

Direct download: Season_4_Episode_4_-_Crackers_and_Bagels.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:29pm EST

Rachel Hadas, poet, essayist, translator and professor, discusses her recent memoir, Strange Relation, about losing her husband to early-onset dementia. She also talks about lessons learned from more than 30 years as a professor, how one should try to take up reading poetry later in life, and why the Furies may have looked the other way when Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter.

Direct download: Season_4_Episode_3_-_The_Consolation_of_Poetry.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:36pm EST

Emily Raboteau, author of Searching for Zion: The Quest for Home in the African Diaspora (Atlantic Monthly Press), joins the Virtual Memories Show to show to talk about the many notions of “home" for black people. Along the way, we talk about the many notions of what constitutes a black person. As Ms. Raboteau discovered in the travels chronicled in her book — encompassing Israel, Jamaica, Ethiopia, Ghana and America’s deep south — there are a lot of ideas about who’s black and what blackness means.

"We reach for stories to be able to take risks."

We also talk about churchgoing in New York City, what it’s like to travel to Antarctica, why the story of Exodus is so pivotal in the black American experience, why Jewish book reviewers thought she was pulling a bait-and-switch, why she chose to explore her black roots instead of her white ones for this book, what motherhood means, and what it was like to give a talk about faith on behalf of Bobby McFerrin. Go listen!

Direct download: Season_4_Episode_2_-_A_Place_To_Rest.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:20pm EST

We kick off 2014 with a conversation with Brett Martin, author of Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad (The Penguin Press). We talk about TV's third golden age and the outsized personalities that helped drive it, the utter uncanniness of Tony Soprano (and James Gandolfini), how the TV showrunner became the auteur of our age, how Breaking Bad may have ended the notion of "Trojan horse" shows, why Battlestar Galactica didn't make the cut in his book, why it's so tough to end a novelistic TV show, and more!

"I seem to spend a lot of time being hectored by big ego'd men in my career. I anticipate a lot more of that."

It's an engaging conversation about the dominant narrative form of this century (at least in terms of ambition and scope), an exploration of the intersection of art and commerce, and a little bit of an inquiry into our age's rush to consensus and its attendant need to declare something The Best Ever. Brett's a terrific writer and has clearly thought long and hard about these topics.

Direct download: Season_4_Episode_1_-_Changing_Channels.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:22pm EST