Virtual Memories Show 273:
Alberto Manguel

“I don’t know how people survive in the world without reading.”

Author, editor, translator, and (most crucially) reader Alberto Manguel joins the show to talk about his new book, Packing My Library: An Elegy and Ten Digressions (Yale University Press). We discuss the lifelong act of building a library and how he deals with having no access to it, now that he’s had to pack up ~35,000 books (but he also tells us about the 3 books he took with him on his travels). We get into his new gig as director of Argentina’s National Library, our schism on whether to cull one’s book collection, his experience in his teens reading to a blind Borges, the book-fetish, our mutual preference for The Iliad over The Odyssey, the embarrassment of receiving an award that was previously given to Borges and Beckett, why translating a book takes more effort than writing one, how he deals with Argentina’s dirty war and the phenomenon of awful people liking great books, the book he still hopes to write, why Canada is home for this world traveler, and the problem with the problem with canons. BONUS: Our listeners weigh in on the books they’d bring with them for a 2-week hospital stay! Give it a listen! And go buy Packing My Library: An Elegy and Ten Digressions!

“If you can reduce a piece of literature to a slogan, then it’s proof that it’s not a great piece of literature.”

“Literature can be defined as Before and After Borges, or rather ‘Before and After Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote‘.”

“Culling books would be equivalent to euthanasia.”

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

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

About our Guest

Alberto Manguel is a writer, translator, editor, and critic, but would rather define himself as a reader and a lover of books. Born in Buenos Aires, he has since resided in Israel, Argentina, Europe, the South Pacific, and Canada. He is now the director of the National Library of Argentina. His most recent book is Packing My Library: An Elegy and Ten Digressions. Here’s a list of his 100 favorite books (PDF).

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Mr. Manguel’s apartment 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. Manguel by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 271:
Christopher Brown

“I don’t think I would write the kind of science fiction I write if I hadn’t had the experience of eating deep-dish pizza with Strom Thurmond during the Clarence Thomas hearings.”

Science fiction author Christopher Brown joins the show to talk about his first novel, Tropic of Kansas (Harper Voyager), and the redemptive possibilities of dystopian fiction. We get into his SF pedigree, living in Austin and its influence on his ecological themes, the multivalence of Texas, his attempt at subverting the post-9/11 technothriller toward emancipatory ends, his background in business law and politics (and the role of power in both those milieux), his affinity for edgelands and the dysfunctions of time, the storytelling advantages of growing up in the midwest, his cynicism about humanity and optimism about nature, and working on Capitol Hill and realizing Ted Kennedy looked just like a certain Marvel character. Give it a listen! And go buy Tropic of Kansas!

“I’ve always been attracted to these little pockets of interstitial wilderness that still exist in the landscape.”

“Texas, more than any other part of the US, is manifestly colonized territory.”

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

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

About our Guest

Christopher Brown was nominated for a World Fantasy Award for the anthology Three Messages and a Warning: Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic. His short fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies, including MIT Technology Review’s “Twelve Tomorrows,” The Baffler, and Stories for Chip. He lives in Austin, Texas. Tropic of Kansas is his first novel.

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at The Standard in Cooper Square 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. Brown by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 270:
Ilana C. Myer

“The writing has a plan, and it does whatever it wants with me.”

Fresh from her book tour, Ilana C. Myer joins the show to talk about her new novel, Fire Dance (Tor). We get into the jump she made for her second book, the process of crossing Celtic poets with troubadours and Mediterranean aesthetics and mythology as part of her world-building, the challenge of seducing the reader, why she writes fantasy instead of history, and her fixation on “books with magic in them” as a kid. We also get into how she balances life in Israel and the US, her process of self-discovery and her religious epiphany in a college astronomy class, the challenge of shutting out social media voices while keeping up a strong Twitter presence, and more! Give it a listen! And go buy Fire Dance (and Ilana’s first novel Last Song Before Night)!

“Without our history, without our traditions, who are we? I refuse to be someone who doesn’t have an identity.”

“You can’t predict how people will respond to the work. To retain my sanity and creative integrity, I had to not pay attention to the responses, even the positive ones.”

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

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

About our Guest

Ilana C. Myer has worked as a journalist in Jerusalem and a cultural critic for various publications. As Ilana Teitelbaum she has written book reviews and critical essays for The Globe and Mail, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Salon, and the Huffington Post. Last Song Before Night was her first novel, followed by Fire Dance. She lives in New York.

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Ilana’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. Myer by Ezra Butler, so it’s not on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 269:
Michael Kupperman

“My old work was about the absence of meaning; it’s just trying to be funny.”

Michael Kupperman rejoins the show to talk about his new book, All The Answers (Gallery 13)! We talk about his father Joel Kupperman’s experience on the Quiz Kids radio and TV shows and how it led to a multigenerational chain of trauma, the shifting of gears from absurdist humor to heartfelt family memoir, the airing of family secrets, the five-plus years of work this book required, and more. We also get into how Mike learned to be a father on the fly, the way his PR push for the book has turned into an ongoing therapy session, why his comedy performance may have been a time-delayed act of paternal rebellion, why it’s important for him to reach a non-comics audience, the change to a mainstream house after working with comics publishers, and his assessment of his career and his perceived lack of respect (that would be the aforementioned therapy session). Give it a listen! And go buy All The Answers!

“When you start thinking about your own family dynamics, there’s a kind of inertia involved, but when you push past that, you start to have some startling realizations.”

“My father desperately wanted me and my sibling to be normal, whatever that is, but he didn’t recognize how deeply abnormal we are.”

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

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

About our Guest

Michael Kupperman’s comic drawings and strips have appeared in dozens of publications including The New Yorker, Fortune, The New York Times, Nickelodeon Magazine, Forbes, Fast Company, Esquire, Heavy Metal, and McSweeney’s; comic books for DC, Marvel, and others; and been collected in multiple books, including five of his own. They’ve also been animated for Saturday Night Live, Adult Swim, and Comedy Central. Conan O’Brien described him as “probably one of the greatest comedy brains on the planet.” All The Answers is his first serious book. Michael lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Muire, and son, Ulysses.

This is his second appearance on The Virtual Memories Show. Check out his first one, recorded at TCAF 2013.

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Mike’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 Mr. Kupperman by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 268:
Roz Chast LIVE!

“Living on the Upper West Side in my 20s was the first time in my life when I thought my life was not going to be a complete cratering shitshow disaster.”

Live from MoCCA 2018, Roz Chast rejoins the show to talk about her 40-year+ career as the “different-different-different” cartoonist at The New Yorker, what her workday is like, why she avoids topical and political cartooning, the joy of drawing on an iPad and the fun of Instagram, and more! We get into her new book, Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York (Bloomsbury USA), and her issues with the suburbs, like learning to drive at 38 and being scared of having a basement. We also discuss the transition to a new cartoon editor at The New Yorker who’s the same age as her kids, the recent shift in gender representation, and the gags she couldn’t have made before she lost her parents. Plus: audience Q& A! Give it a listen! And go buy Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York and Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir!

“When I watched James Bond movies as a kid, I didn’t fantasize about being Pussy Galore. Reading Tom Sawyer, I didn’t wait for more segments on Aunt Polly so I could identify.”

“George Trow said that structure is what keeps readers from getting tired, and I think that’s true.”

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

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

About our Guest

Roz Chast grew up in Brooklyn. Her cartoons began appearing in The New Yorker in 1978, where she has since published more than one thousand. She wrote and illustrated the #1 New York Times bestseller, Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir, a National Book Critics Circle Award and Kirkus Prize winner and finalist for the National Book Award, as well as What I Hate: From A to Z, and her cartoon collections The Party, After You Left, and Theories of Everything: Selected, Collected, and Health-Inspected Cartoons, 1978-2006. Her new book is Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York.

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at ink48 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 Roz by her mom or dad back in 1966, I figure. It’s not on my instagram.