Virtual Memories Show 387:
Benjamin Taylor

“I had a reverent feeling about the writers of that generation. They were little children in the Great Depression, and they saw fear in their parents’ eyes, and it made workhorses of them.”

Author, editor & memoirist Benjamin Taylor joins the show to talk about his wonderful new memoir, Here We Are: My Friendship with Philip Roth (Penguin). We get into how his relationship with Roth evolved over 20 years, how it affected his own writing, and his notion that everything that happened is still happening. We talk about the nature of friendship and how it may differ from literary friendship, Benjamin’s fixation on older friends, why The Human Stain is his favorite of Roth’s novels, the notion of “literary lions” like Roth, Bellow, Oates, Updike, and Ozick, and why this era seems bereft of them. He also fills us in on how long walks with Vivian Gornick have helped him handle Pandemic World, why fiction isn’t the only worthwhile game in town, what it means to be an American and a heartbroken patriot, and plenty more. Give it a listen! And go read Here We Are!

“I think that American writers in general are heartbroken patriots, who see more of the disparities than ordinary citizens. Think of Hawthorne, think of Whitman. This is what makes us an essentially Romantic civilization. We believe that the ideal is what is most real.”

“Did I feel I was in their shadow? No, I felt I was in their light!”

“The grafting of manhood onto his particular childhood was always uneasy and awkward.”

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“There was an amoral streak in Philip. He was also a man of great tenderness.”

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

Benjamin Taylor‘s family memoir, The Hue and Cry at Our House, received the 2018 Los Angeles Times/Christopher Isherwood Prize and was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice; his Proust: The Search was named a Best Book of 2016 by Thomas Mallon in The New York Times Book Review; and his Naples Declared: A Walk Around the Bay was named a Best Book of 2012 by Judith Thurman in The New Yorker. He is also the author of two novels, Tales Out of School, winner of the 1996 Harold Ribalow Prize, and The Book of Getting Even, winner of a Barnes & Noble Discover Award. He edited Saul Bellow: Letters, named a Best Book of 2010 by Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times and Jonathan Yardley in The Washington Post, and Bellow’s There Is Simply Too Much to Think About: Collected Nonfiction, also a New York Times Editors’ Choice. His edition of the collected stories of Susan Sontag, Debriefing, was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 2017. Taylor is a founding faculty member in the New School’s Graduate School of Writing and teaches also in the Columbia University School of the Arts. He is a past fellow and current trustee of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and serves as president of the Edward F. Albee Foundation. His new book is Here We Are: My Friendship with Philip Roth.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely via Zencastr. I used 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 Benjamin by Alison West. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 386:
Judy Gold

“Don’t tell me what I’m allowed to talk about. There’s no growth without discourse. When you start shutting people up, that’s the end of evolution.”

Comedian, actress and Emmy-winning TV writer Judy Gold joins the show to celebrate her brand new book, Yes, I CAN Say That: When They Come for the Comedians, We Are All in Trouble (Dey St.). We get into the role of comedy in society, the perils of censorship (from the left and the right), and what living through the AIDS crisis taught her about the need to laugh. We get into her history in standup, how audiences have become more offendable, how she got into her IDGAF mode in her 40s, who can take a joke and who can’t (and who can tell a joke and who can’t), the crucible of hanging out with comedians after shows, how she’s dealing with pandemic life and how COVID-19 forced the longest break in her career, what she’s learned from hosting Kill Me Now for 5+ years and who some of her Mount Rushmore guests have been, and plenty more. Give it a listen! And go read Yes, I CAN Say That!

“Every safe space has a door that leads to the real world.”

“Nothing is sacred in a comedy club. And this is the only art form where our work in progress needs an audience.”

“I found that, once you don’t give a shit, you’re much funnier.”

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“A woman in her late 40s in standup is invisible. I’ve been told I can’t get a Netflix special because I don’t ‘fit the algorithm’.”

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

Judy Gold is an American standup comedian, actress, television writer, and producer. She won two Daytime Emmy Awards for her work as a writer and producer on The Rosie O’Donnell Show, and has starred in comedy specials on HBO, Comedy Central, and Logo. She has also written and starred in two critically acclaimed, Off-Broadway hit shows: The Judy Show―My Life as a Sitcom and 25 Questions for a Jewish Mother. She is currently the host of the hit podcast Kill Me Now. Her new book is Yes, I CAN Say That: When They Come for the Comedians, We Are All in Trouble.

There’s a longer version of her bio at her website.

 

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely via Zencastr. I used 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 Judy by Justine Ungaro. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 383:
Everett Glenn

“My motivation? Kinda cookie-cutter: Desperate person doesn’t want to die of alcoholism, writes instead. That’s the blurb.”

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

“Art school teaches you how to embody the idea that art is valuable.”

“Somerset Maugham was basically my dad. Khalil Gibran was my birth father and left me in Maugham’s hands.”

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“When it comes to race, it doesn’t matter what I think. I’ll always be a Black man in society. That’s something I can’t control.”

“I skipped the idol-worship stage of discovering literature. I went straight to ‘This is a person who had experiences and figured out how to use language to articulate those experiences.'”

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

Everett Glenn is a semi-reclusive American cartoonist living in Berlin, Germany. He works in various mediums, including drawing, painting, and designing fashion accessories. His work grows out of his tumultuous upbringing and personal experiences. His most recent works are the graphic novel Unsmooth (Floating World Comics) and the story The Gigs, anthologized in NOW #8 (Fantagraphics).

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely via Zencastr. I used 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 Everett by him. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 373:
Kathe Koja

“Chaos is its own engine.”

Writer, performer, director and producer Kathe Koja rejoins the show to talk about her new story collection, VELOCITIES (Meerkat Press). We talk how she’s coping with the pandemic, the importance of having a good working relationship with chaos, and why Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker is more apropos than ever. She gets into her work in immersive theater and how it needs to be reimagined in this era of social distancing, while teasing out details of her new project, Dark Factory. We also get into the upcoming reissue of her cult novel The Cipher this September, why she’s bingeing on Babylon Berlin, the one thing she hoarded when things went sideways, why it’s important to be open to the messages the world sends us, and what to do when you find a pill lying on the floor in a hospital cafeteria. Give it a listen! And go buy VELOCITIES!

“If writing is not a conversation, it’s really nothing.”

“It’s like trying to argue with a river. If you learn to swim, or better yet float, you’re better off.”

“Dark Factory is about how we open up to the world, see what’s really happening, see how strange life really 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

Kathe Koja writes novels and short fiction, and creates and produces immersive fiction performances, both solo and with a rotating ensemble of artists. Her work crosses and combines genres, and her books have won awards, been translated, and optioned for film and performance. She is based in Detroit and thinks globally. Her most recent book is VELOCITIES, from Meerkat Press.

Follow Kathe on Twitter and Facebook, contribute to her Patreon, and listen to our previous conversation.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely 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 Kathe by Rick Lieder. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 372:
Tom Hart

“For my next book, I’m looking for a new form. Everything feels like the old form. I’m giving myself that luxury. I don’t owe this to anybody but my own creative satisfaction.”

Cartoonist and educator Tom Hart joins the show to talk about how the Sequential Artists Workshop (SAW) is adapting to the pandemic era. We get into Tom’s comics upbringing and his formative years in the Seattle scene, how he managed to avoid superhero comics during his formative years, my discovery of his debut, Hutch Owen’s Working Hard, in 1994, the value of pretension and his drive to bring literary notions to his comics, the experience that led him to create SAW, the challenges of teaching students half his age (& younger), ow teaching his helped him as a cartoonist, the new form he’s seeking for his next book, and why he’s hoping to get out of Florida. Give it a listen!

“In my own work, I’ve removed everything in the idea-generation phase, everything that’s not about death or absolute primal urges.”

“I realized upon reflection that what I was responding to with Peanuts was the heightened emotion contained in boxes & little characters. That was my way of interpreting the adult emotional world around me.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! And visit The COVID-19 Sessions for all those daily episodes about life during the pandemic.

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

About our Guest

Adapted from his website:

Hi, I’m Tom Hart, a cartoonist. I started The Sequential Artists Workshop , a school and arts organization in Gainesville, Florida. Before that, I taught at School of Visual Arts for 10 years, a did a bunch of other stuff.

My book about my daughter, Rosalie Lightning, was a NY Times #1 bestseller and been translated into French, Italian, Portuguese and Chinese, and was featured on many best of 2016 lists, and was nominated for two Eisner Awards.

Before that, I was the creator of the Hutch Owen series of graphic novels and books. The Collected Hutch Owen was nominated for best graphic novel in 2000. I was an early recipient of a Xeric Grant for self-publishing cartoonists, and has been on many best-of lists in The Comics Journal and other comix publications. I was called “One of the great underrated cartoonists of our time” by Eddie Campbell and “One of my favorite cartoonists of the decade” by Scott McCloud. The Hutch Owen comic strip ran for 2 years in newspapers in New York and Boston, and his “Ali’s House”, co-created with Margo Dabaie, was picked up by King Features Syndicate.

I was a core instructor at New York City’s School of Visual Arts for 10 years, teaching cartooning to undergraduates, working adults and teens alike. Among my students were Dash Shaw, Sarah Glidden, Box Brown, and other published cartoonists like Leslie Stein, Jessica Fink, Josh Bayer, Brendan Leach , and many others.

Follow Tom on Twitter and Instagram. Check out B Is Dying on Instagram. Check out SAW on Instagram.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely 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 Tom by someone else. It’s on my instagram.