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The Virtual Memories Show


A weekly conversation about books and life, not necessarily in that order.

A weekly conversation about books and life, not necessarily in that order.


United States


A weekly conversation about books and life, not necessarily in that order.








Episode 491 - Andrew Jamieson

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...


Episode 490 - Alexandra Lange

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...


Episode 489 - Ira Nadel

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 . ....


Episode 488 - Andreas Kilcher and Judith Butler

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...


Episode 487 - Alvin Eng

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,...


Episode 486 - Charlie Porter

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...


Episode 485 - Kathe Koja

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,...


Episode 484 - Julie Phillips

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...


Episode 483 - Celia Paul

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...


Episode 482 - John Crowley

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...


Episode 481 - Anneli Furmark

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...


Episode 480 - Nicholas Delbanco

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


Episode 479 - Sebastian Smee

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...


Episode 478 - Rebecca Mead

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


Episode 477 - Anna Della Subin

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...


Episode 476 - David Sipress

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 Twitter, Instagram, and The New Yorker • More...


Episode 475 - Mark Prins

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


Episode 474 - Nicole Rudick

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...


Episode 473 - Darryl Cunningham

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...


Episode 472 - Scott Meslow

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...