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 360:
Otto Penzler

“Writing is hard. I’d rather do yard work than write. But this memoir was the least onerous writing I’ve done.”

The great publisher, editor, anthologizer, retailer and collector of crime fiction, Otto Penzler, joins the show to talk about his wonderful new book, Mysterious Obsession: Memoirs of a Compulsive Collector (Mysterious Bookshop), and his decision to auction off the world’s greatest collection of crime fiction (think ~60,000 first editions). We get into his instant regret about that decision, how it inspired this amazing memoir, and how he’s getting by without all those books (especially because he designed his house to accommodate an even larger collection). We discuss the changes in his Mysterious Bookshop and his other Mysterious pursuits (see links below) as the internet has warped book and retail culture, the camaraderie and friendships that he built over a lifetime of collecting, the mania that can strike during auctions, and the difference between collecting and reading. And we talk about how he learned to edit major writers for his anthologies (including a near-disaster with Joyce Carol Oates), the farthest he’s traveled to acquire a single book, the moment he realized he had a writing style and how that unlocked him as a writer, how he had to choose between Sherlock Holmes and the rest of crime fiction, the vagaries of fame and literary reputation as reflected in book collecting, and why he characterizes himself as a parasite in the mystery world (having done everything but writing a mystery novel of his own). Give it a listen! And go buy Mysterious Obsession: Memoirs of a Compulsive Collector!

“I came up with one word — MYSTERIOUS — and my creativity was finished.”

“This is an era of short attention spans, but collecting is not something you should be doing in a rush.”

“I don’t know what it is that keeps some authors or books highly regarded today, as opposed to others that have been totally forgotten.”

“If I can edit Joyce Carol Oates, I can edit anybody.”

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

Otto Penzler is the founder of the publishing companies Mysterious Press, Otto Penzler Books, the Armchair Detective Library, Penzler Publishers, mysteriouspress.com, and Scarlet. He opened New York’s Mysterious Bookshop in 1979. He has written or edited more than 60 books, winning the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Awards for the Encyclopedia of Mystery & Detection and The Lineup. His library of nearly 60,000 first editions of mystery fiction went to auction in late 2018. His new book is Mysterious Obsession: Memoirs of a Compulsive Collector.

Here are the links to all the ways to keep up with Otto and his Mysterious Empire:

The Mysterious Bookshop
Website
Twitter
Instagram

Mysterious Press
Website
Twitter

Penzler Publishers
Website
Twitter

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at The Mysterious Bookshop 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. Penzler by me. It’s 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 356:
Emily Flake

“My personal brand tracks so well with physical awkwardness.”

With her new book That Was Awkward: The Art & Etiquette of the Awkward Hug (Viking Books), cartoonist and humorist Emily Flake explores the world of awkward hugs. We get into how that book landed in her lap, why she hates drawing other people’s jokes, and how she learned (and pushes the boundaries of) the New Yorker cartoonist’s voice. We talk about the massive influence of Shary Flenniken’s Trots & Bonnie comics on her work, the question of “age-appropriate” reading and her 7-year-old kid, performing stand-up cartooning and hosting the Nightmares and Shitshow series (and getting Robyn Hitchcock to guest on that evening’s Nightmares!), how making 4-beat comic strips taught her to write humor, the guilt she felt the first time she saw someone with a tattoo of one of her gags, building up immunity to editorial rejection, and more! Give it a listen! And go buy That Was Awkward: The Art and Etiquette of the Awkward Hug!

“Halfway through art school, I realized my work got better reception if it was funny.”

“I stopped going in for Look Day. Once you can e-mail things in, why wear pants?”

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

Emily Flake‘s cartoons and humorous essays run regularly in The New Yorker, The Nib, and many other publications. Her weekly strip, Lulu Eightball, ran in alt-weeklies for many years. She’s written and illustrated two books: These Things Ain’t Gonna Smoke Themselves and Mama Tried. Her illustrations and cartoons appear in publications all over the world, including the New York Times, Newsweek, the Globe and Mail, The Onion, The New Statesman, and Forbes. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, daughter, and a new cat. Her new book is That Was Awkward: The Art and Etiquette of the Awkward Hug (Viking Books). She’s on Twitter and Instagram.

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