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 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 350:
Ed Ward

“I don’t like nostalgia. I consider it destructive to a rational understanding of history.”

From the Sex Pistols’ last show to the backseat of Elvis’ gold Cadillac, Ed Ward has had a front-row seat to the history of rock & roll. He returns to the show to talk about The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 2: 1964–1977: The Beatles, the Stones, and the Rise of Classic Rock (Flatiron Books), and we get into the challenges of chronicling the form in that that era (both narratively and chronologically), his novelistic approach to history, the destructive nature of nostalgia, and how glad he was to get corroboration on the circumstances of Jim Morrison’s death. Along the way, we get into his oft-quoted but misunderstood review of the first Stooges record (and how Iggy validated him), how Woodstock predicted the collapse of the music industry, why he thought (incorrectly) that the ‘70s were a nostalgia-proof generation, why he doesn’t listen to music anymore, and his answer to the key question of the era: Beatles or Stones? Give it a listen (and check out our 2016 podcast)! And go buy The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 2: 1964–1977!

“I was there and I know how the story of rock & roll ends.”

“Music is no longer central to youth culture.”

“Disco was rhythm & blues by other means.”

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

Ed Ward was the rock-and-roll historian on Fresh Air for more than thirty years, reaching fourteen million listeners. Currently he is the cohost of the Let It Roll podcast. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and countless music magazines. He is the author of The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1 and of Michael Bloomfield: The Rise and Fall of an American Guitar Hero. His new book is The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 2: 1964–1977: The Beatles, the Stones, and the Rise of Classic Rock. He lives in Austin, Texas.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at the Fairfield Inn near Penn Station in NYC 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. Ward by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show:
Tom Spurgeon Bonus Episode

“The danger isn’t in the limits of what you can do for someone. The danger is in withdrawing, and realizing you don’t have those relationships anymore. If you can be engaged in someone’s life . . . that’s what you have and that’s what you work with.”

Following the unexpected death of Tom Spurgeon, my best friend and an inveterate supporter of the show, I’ve re-posted our 2012 conversation, along with a new (and emotional) introduction. Give it a listen

“I was morphined up and looking out the back of an ambulance for about three hours. You get to see things as a beginning, middle and end. . . . My story might end in a couple of hours. What does that mean? What was that life like?”

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

About our Guest

At the time of his death at the age of 50, Tom Spurgeon was the editor of The Comics Reporter and executive director of CXC – Cartoon Crossroads Columbus.

Credits: The conversation was recorded at Small Press Expo in Bethesda, MD in 2012 on a pair of Blue enCORE 100 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H4 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 me & Tom by my wife. It’s on my instagram.