Virtual Memories Show 362:
Richard Kadrey

“I try to tell young writers, ‘Do not fetishize your world-building.’ I’ve seen writers think they have to be Tolkien, they have to invent Elvish, before they can start the first page of their book.”

With his new novel, The Grand Dark (Harper Voyager), Richard Kadrey takes an artistic leap from his renowned Sandman Slim supernatural noir books. We sit down in a murder hotel to talk about mixing robots and genetic engineering with Weimar Germany, getting inspired by Mel Gordon’s Voluptuous Panic, David Bowie’s Low, and the Brothers Quay’s Street of Crocodiles, the impact of the 2016 election on his writing, and how he’s getting ready to end the Sandman Slim series. We also get into the gentrification of the east Village and the Bowery, the thin line between preservation and nostalgia, the moment his brain got warped by Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, our shared love of What We Do In The Shadows, the time he attended a screening of Cronenberg’s Crash with Kathy Acker, his LitReactor course on writing dark urban fantasy, the wonder of being edited by Ellen Datlow, the accretionary model of novel-writing, and why it’s okay to build your fantastic world by just looking out the window. (Check out our 2018 conversation!) Give it a listen! And go buy The Grand Dark (& maybe pre-order the penultimate Sandman Slim novel, Ballistic Kiss)!

“I love hidden and forgotten history, like the time San Francisco got hit with the Black Plague.”

“I swore early in my career I’d never write a book with a map at the front of it, but here we are.”

“I don’t think I’m going to be taught in college courses, but I like the idea of my books living beyond me when I’m gone.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Richard Kadrey is the New York Times bestselling author of the Sandman Slim supernatural noir books. Sandman Slim was included in Amazon’s “100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books to Read in a Lifetime,” and is in development as a feature film. Some of his other books include The Wrong Dead Guy, The Everything Box, Metrophage, and Butcher Bird. He also wrote the Vertigo comic Lucifer.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at a murder hotel in Jersey City on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Mr. Kadrey by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 361:
Dmitry Samarov

“I’ve been very fortunate to have an undying inner need to keep expressing myself, in the face of fairly universal indifference. It just doesn’t discourage me; it might be some sort of insanity.”

With his new memoir, Soviet Stamps, artist & writer Dmitry Samarov explores his experience of emigrating from the USSR as a child, finding his way through late-’70s and ’80s America, and becoming an artist. We talk about the book’s winding path to self-publication, how his story does and doesn’t fit in to the history of Soviet Jewry, how he overcame the embarrassment of including his adolescent art in the book, his 4th grade autobiography and how it managed to predict much of his career, and the possible Dmitry-lives that could have resulted from decisions that were out of his hands. We also get into his notion that art requires disengagement, his gauge for the life and death of artworks, the value of the apprentice system over art school, why he’s writing fiction for his next book, and which self-promotional event he hates more: the book reading or the gallery opening. (Oh, and check out our previous conversations: 2014, 2015, and 2018) Give it a listen! And go buy Soviet Stamps!

“It’s mind-blowing to me to think about the chances my parents took, the leap they took into the unknown, and everything they had to give up.”

“I think I’m better at walking away from paintings than I used to be.”

“You can’t really see inside another person no matter how well you know them, and you can’t see what you’re looking at if you’re in the middle of it.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Dmitry Samarov paints and writes in Chicago, Illinois. He’s the author of four published books: Hack, and Where To?, both illustrated memoirs of his taxi-driving days, Music To My Eyes, and Soviet Stamps. You should sign up for his weekly e-mail and listen to his occasional Blather podcast.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at the Society of Illustrators on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Painting of Dmitry Samarov by him, so it’s not on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 359:
Joan Marans Dim & Antonio Masi

“Immigration is the central meaning and purpose of the Statue of Liberty.”

In a time where immigration is under attack, Joan Marans Dim and Antonio Masi demonstrate the history and importance of immigration in America with Lady Liberty: An Illustrated History of America’s Most Storied Woman (Fordham University Press). We get into what drew the writer and watercolor painter to the Statue of Liberty, how they came to their previous collaboration on the bridges of New York City, the need to put landmarks into their social, political and economic context, how Emma Lazarus’ New Colossus poem invested the statue with purpose, and how the meaning of liberty has changed in America over the centuries. We also talk about the engineering marvel of the Statue of Liberty, how it was transported from France and assembled in America, the secrets of the hard-hat tour of Ellis Island, and the ways the meaning of liberty has changed in America. But there’s also room to talk about Joan and Antonio’s differences of approach to a topic, how differently writers and painters approach a topic, how the large scale of Masi’s watercolors helps him engage with the work, the E.L. Doctorow piece that Joan turns to before starting any writing project (the intro to this), and more! Give it a listen! And go buy bridges of New York City!

“When I came over at 11, all the Statue of Liberty symbolized was that we’d arrived in America.”

“You cannot get into the rhythm of a painting when you’re sitting at a table and you’re working small and all you’re doing is moving your wrist.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guests

Antonio Masi is a world-class and award-winning artist often honored for his depictions of bridges; his magnificent paintings are exclusively featured in the book New York’s Golden Age of Bridges. Masi is also president of the American Watercolor Society. His artistry has been featured in Artist’s Magazine, PBS–Sunday Arts, NBCToday, Newsday, and many other venues. He also participated in the New York Times’s video Living City: A Tale of Two Bridges. A sought-after artistic master and scholar, he travels the world as a teacher, demonstrator, and lecturer.

Joan Marans Dim is a historian, novelist, and essayist. Her published work includes the novel Recollections of a Rotten Kid. She also co-wrote two histories—the saga of New York University, The Miracle on Washington Square, and, most recently, New York’s Golden Age of Bridges. Her essays and op-eds have appeared in the New York Times, the New York Daily News, Barron’s, Investor’s Business Daily, The Huffington Post, and many other publications. She also participated in the New York Times’s video Living City: A Tale of Two Bridges. Critics, citing the scope and depth of her work, describe her prose as laced with impressive depth, a droll wit, and an elegant narrative.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Ms. Marans Dim’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Ms. Marans Dim & Mr. Masi by me. It’s on my instagram. Paintings by Mr. Masi.

Virtual Memories Show 358:
Daniel Mendelsohn

“Achilles is a hero who is mesmerizing without being penetrable, whereas Odysseus I think I understand (perhaps hubristic to say that).”

His wondrous new collection, Ecstasy and Terror: From the Greeks to Game of Thrones (NYRB), brings a dizzying array of Daniel Mendelsohn‘s critical-essayistic-memoir pieces together. We sat down to talk about the work of the critic and the drama that makes for a great critical piece, as well as the temptation to make a name by going after easy targets, his need to criscross genres and categories with personal writing and criticism, and why his negative review of Mad Men got him more pushback than anything else he’s written. We get into his amazing 2017 memoir, An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, and an Epic, its gorgeous structure and its insight into Homer and our present day, while we try to suss out why the great Greek translators have either produced a great Iliad or a great Odyssey, but not both (he’s working on a new translation of The Odyssey). We also discuss the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the nature of contemporary mythmaking, my pet theory about the tragedy of Achilles in the Iliad, Emily Wilson’s question about Odysseus’ true homophrosyne, the role of erudition in criticism, how institutions like The New Yorker, New York Review of Books, Paris Review etc. handle succession, our love of the finale of The Americans, his one conversation with Philip Roth, and SO much more. Give it a listen! And go buy Ecstasy and Terror: From the Greeks to Game of Thrones and An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, and an Epic!

“When you start as a critic, there’s a great drive to make your mark and be noticed.”

“You need to be bothered a little bit by something, in order to want to investigate it.”

“There is no act of intimacy in the world of literature that is greater than translating.”

“Identity becomes more interesting the more multiplex it is.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Daniel Mendelsohn teaches at Bard and is Editor-at-Large at The New York Review of Books. His books include An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, and an Epic; The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million; How Beautiful It Is And How Easily It Can Be Broken: Essays, and, from New York Review Books, Waiting for the Barbarians: Essays from the Classics to Pop Culture. His new book is Ecstasy and Terror: From the Greeks to Game of Thrones, also from NYRB.

There’s a longer version at his website.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Mr. Mendelsohn’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photos of Mr. Mendelsohn by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 357:
Walter Bernard

“The first thing you try when you’re called in, is to find out how the top people see the problem. That’s often similar from project to project: the disconnect from the readership.”

Legendary designer Walter Bernard joins the show to talk about Mag Men: Fifty Years of Making Magazines (Columbia University Press), the new book he co-authored with Milton Glaser. We get into the art and necessity of collaboration, the relationship he and Milton developed over half a century of work, the pros and cons of doing redesigns for globally established institutions, and the decline of print in the digital age. We get into his stellar run of redesigns for Time, Fortune, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic, the one magazine Walter would have loved to redesign, his design pet peeves, how he learned to learn the culture of newsrooms, how he came into his own and could feel like a true partner to Milton, and plenty more! Give it a listen! And go buy Mag Men: Fifty Years of Making Magazines!

“Magazines are not done by one person. They get better with all these ideas and collaborations.”

“Sometimes type designs are marvelously successful and innovative, and other times you’re thinking, ‘Why are you showing off like this to a reader?'”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Walter Bernard has been the designer and art director of many of the best-known magazines and newspapers in the United States, including Time, Fortune, and The Atlantic. He coproduced the documentary Portraits of a Lady (2008). In 2013, he received the Henry R. Luce Lifetime Achievement award for his work at Time Inc. His new book is Mag Men: Fifty Years of Making Magazines, co-authored by Milton Glaser.

There’s a much more extensive bio at his consultancy’s website.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Walter’s studio on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photos of Walter by me. It’s on my instagram.