Virtual Memories Show:
The Guest List 2017

It’s time for our year-end Virtual Memories Show tradition: The Guest List! I reached out to 2017’s pod-guests and asked them about the favorite book(s) they read in the past year, as well as the books or authors they’re hoping to read in 2018! Three dozen responded with a dizzying array of books. (I participated, too!) Just in time for you to make some Hanukkah and/or Christmas purchases, The Virtual Memories Show offers up a huge list of books that you’re going to want to read! Give it a listen, and get ready to update your wish lists!

This year’s Guest List episode features selections from 36 of our recent guests (and one bonus guest)! So go give it a listen, and then visit our special Guest List page where you can find links to the books and the guests who responded.

Also, check out the 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 editions of The Guest List for more great book ideas!

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About our Guests

The guests who participated in this year’s Guest List are Pete Bagge, Kathy Bidus, Sven Birkerts, RO Blechman, Kyle Cassidy, Graham Chaffee, Howard Chaykin, Joe Ciardiello, John Clute, John Crowley, John Cuneo, Ellen Datlow, Samuel R. Delany, Nicholas Delbanco, Barbara Epler, Joyce Farmer, Sarah Williams Goldhagen, Paul Gravett, Liz Hand, Vanda Krefft, Michael Meyer, Cullen Murphy, Jeff Nunokawa, Mimi Pond, Eddy Portnoy, Keiler Roberts, Martin Rowson, Matt Ruff, Ben Schwartz, Vanessa Sinclair, Ann Telnaes, Michael Tisserand, Gordon Van Gelder, Shannon Wheeler, Wallis Wilde-Menozzi, Matt Wuerker . . . and me, Gil Roth! Check out their episodes at our archives!

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission of the artist. The episode was recorded 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.

Virtual Memories Show 248:
Cullen Murphy

“The cartoonists in that community were very intent on making their own way in life with the tools they enjoyed working with, rather than being slotted into a pathway of someone else’s devising.”

This podcast has been to Hicksville and Coconino, so why not Fairfield County, CT? Cullen Murphy‘s new book, Cartoon County: My Father and His Friends in the Golden Age of Make-Believe (FSG), tells the story of Prince Valiant cartoonist John Cullen Murphy and the community of cartoonists, illustrators and comic-book artists who settled the southeastern corner of Connecticut in the ’50s and ’60s. Cullen & I talk about the confluence of factors that led to that community and his goal of preserving that golden age in this book, his realization that “cartoonist” was not a normal job for one’s dad, his own cartooning aspirations, what writing Prince Valiant with his father taught him about storytelling, how his upbringing around cartoonists affected how he worked with illustrators as a magazine editor, why his father stuck with realism and never worked in bigfoot style, and what Cartoon County taught him about himself & his family. Give it a listen! And go buy Cartoon County!

“When I was thinking of the audience for Cartoon County, I very much had my family in mind.”

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

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

About our Guest

Cullen Murphy is the editor at large at Vanity Fair and the former managing editor of The Atlantic Monthly. His books include Are We Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America, and God’s Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World. For twenty-five years he collaborated with his father, the illustrator John Cullen Murphy, on the comic strip Prince Valiant. He lives in Massachusetts with his family. His new book is Cartoon County: My Father and His Friends in the Golden Age of Make-Believe.

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 Vanity Fair offices (!) 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. Murphy by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 247:
Vanda Krefft

“The most interesting question about Fox is, ‘What do you do when you realize you’re not going to be the person that you want to be?'”

Quick: Who is the “Fox” in 20th Century Fox? You’d know if you read Vanda Krefft‘s fantastic new book, The Man Who Made the Movies: The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of William Fox (Harper)! Vanda joins the show to talk about William Fox’s contributions to the movies, why he’s virtually unknown today, and how she discovered his story. We also get into her decade-plus experience of researching and writing the book, Vanda’s transition from journalist to biographer, the limits of historical records, the damage Fox wrought on his extended family by supporting them, the biographer’s need to correct for hindsight, the influence of Nancy Drew on her writing career, the contrasts of her early life in Canada and her adult life in the US, and more! Give it a listen! And go buy The Man Who Made the Movies!

“One good source for the book was legal documents. Fortunately, William Fox loved to sue people, and people loved to sue him.”

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

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

About our Guest

Vanda Krefft is a former journalist who has covered the entertainment industry for publications such as Elle, Redbook, Woman’s Day, and The Los Angeles Times. In support of this book, she has received a Biography Fellowship from the Leon Levy Center for Biography at the City University of New York Graduate Center, a Senior Fellowship from the Dedalus Foundation, a Helm Fellowship from the Lilly Library at Indiana University, an Albert M. Greenfield Fellowship from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and other grants and residencies. Her new book is The Man Who Made the Movies: The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of William Fox.

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 Roosevelt Hotel 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. I’m not sure who took the photo of her, nor the Theda Bara pic at the top. It’s not on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 246:
Eddy Portnoy

“The Yiddish press was this place where Jews could really talk about anything in ways you wouldn’t hear them talk in public.”

Yiddish scholar and raconteur Eddy Portnoy joins the show to talk about his new book, Bad Rabbi: And Other Strange but True Stories from the Yiddish Press (Stanford University Press). We get into the tabloid craziness of bigamist rabbis, fights over a Jewish beauty queen, 600-lb. wrestlers, and the déclassé Jews of Poland and New York from the heyday of Yiddish newspapers. We also talk about how Eddy taught himself to read & write Yiddish as a teen and then turned a really fun hobby into a low-paying career, the slip of the microfilm dial that led to this book, his embarrassing story about meeting (and lecturing) Ben Katchor, his resemblance to Geddy Lee, the good fortune that led to preservation of Yiddish newspapers in eastern Europe, and more. But what will his poor mother think? Give it a listen! And go buy Bad Rabbi!

“If you don’t understand basic Jewish texts — Bible, Talmud, Midrash — you cannot understand Yiddish cartoons, because that is their main form of metaphor.”

“My life and microfilm are intimately intertwined.”

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

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

About our Guest

An expert on Jewish popular culture Eddy Portnoy has an M.A. in Yiddish from Columbia and a Ph.D. in Jewish history from the Jewish Theological Seminary. He currently serves as Academic Advisor for the Max Weinreich Center and Exhibition Curator at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. The exhibitions he has created for YIVO have won plaudits from The New York Times, VICE, The Forward, and others. His new book is Bad Rabbi: And Other Strange but True Stories from the Yiddish Press (Stanford University Press).

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. Portnoy’s office at the YIVO Institute 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. Portnoy by me. They’re on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 245:
Eshkol Nevo & Paul Gravett

“I never think of writing as something where I have to achieve something or pass on a message.”

Israeli author Eshkol Nevo joins the show to talk about his new novel Three Floors Up (Other Press) and how he explained it to passport control on his visit to the US. We talk about how his fiction-writing career both integrates and rejects his past lives in advertising and psychology, explore the Robin Hood model of the creative writing school, and get into the background PTSD of daily life in Israel. Then comics scholar Paul Gravett rejoins the show to talk about his new exhibition, Mangasia: Wonderlands of Asian Comics, and the book that accompanies it (here’s a video about it. We get into the impact of manga across Asian culture (and beyond), his dream project of a Mexican comics retrospective, and how North Korea’s comics visually portray their glorious leader. Give it a listen! And go buy Three Floors Up and Mangasia: The Definitive Guide to Asian Comics!

“I imagine my deathbed scene being people bringing my silver platters of comics that I’ve never seen, right up until the very end.”

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

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

About our Guests

Eshkol Nevo is the author of five novels, all best sellers in Israel. Four have been published in English: Neuland, which was included in The Independent‘s list of Books of the Year in Translation; World Cup Wishes; Homesick, a finalist for the prestigious Independent Foreign Fiction Prize; and Three Floors Up. In 2008 Nevo was awarded membership in the Israel Cultural Excellence Foundation. He is the owner and co-manager of the largest private creative writing school in Israel and is mentor to many up-and-coming Israeli writers.

Paul Gravett is a London-based freelance journalist, curator, lecturer, writer and broadcaster, who has worked in comics publishing and promotion since 1981. After graduating with a Masters Degree in Law from Christ’s College, Cambridge, he spent a year and half in the USA, mainly in New Mexico, contributing to Albuquerque’s local public radio and television stations.

In the early 1980s, he started the Fast Fiction table at the bi-monthly comic marts and mail order distribution, inviting anybody to sell their homemade comics from it. Out of this came his first job in comics at pssst! magazine, a brave but misguided attempt at a British version of the sort of a luxurious monthly bande dessinée magazine popular in France. He worked in a variety of positions in 1982 and 1983 at pssst! – as promotions man, traffic manager, coordinating artwork and interviewing potential contributors.

In 1983 he launched Escape Magazine, which he co-edited/published with Peter Stanbury, showcasing the cream of the alternative cartoonists of the 1980s. Escape lasted for 19 issues before closing its doors in 1989. For six years, Escape helped to promote an evolving bunch of distinctive British creators, including now major names like Eddie Campbell, Jamie Hewlett, Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean.

Between 1992 and 2001 he was the director of The Cartoon Art Trust, a UK charity established in 1988, dedicated to preserving and promoting the best of British cartoon art and caricature and to establish a museum of cartoon art with gallery, archives and reference library. As Project Director of The Cartoon Art Trust, he worked on numerous exhibitions, including tributes to Carl Giles and Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts, and The 100 British Cartoonists of the Century.

Among the exhibitions of comics art he has curated in Britain and in Europe, ‘God Save The Comics!’, in 1990 was the first major survey of British comic art at the National Comics and Image Centre in Angoulême, France. In 2004, he curated the first exhibit devoted to British writer Alan Moore and his collaborators at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Charleroi, Belgium.

Paul has also organised retrospectives on Jack Kirby, Tove Jansson and Posy Simmonds. In 2008 he curated ‘Manhua: China Comics Now’, the first exhibition in Britain of contemporary Chinese comics at the London College of Communication. In 2010, he curated ‘Hypercomics: The Shapes of Comics to Come’, at the Pump House Gallery in Battersea Park.

Since 2003, Paul has been the director of Comica, the London International Comics Festival, instigated by him and John Harris Dunning at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. Since 2011, Comica has been an independent not-for-profit organization running both the annual festival and other events and exhibitions throughout the year.

Paul is the author of the book Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics (2004), and co-author, with Peter Stanbury, of Graphic Novels: Everything You Need to Know (2005), Great British Comics: Celebrating a Century of Ripping Yarns and Wizard Wheezes (2006) and The Leather Nun & Other Incredibly Strange Comics (2008). He is also the editor of The Mammoth Book of Best Crime Comics (2008) and 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die (2011).

On television he has been a consultant and interview subject on The South Bank Show’s programme Manga Mania (2006) and BBC4’s documentary series Comics Britannia (2007). Also, he appeared as interview subject in the DVD documentary The Mindscape Of Alan Moore (2007). He is regularly interviewed for radio and television documentaries, discussions and review programmes. He also lectures in art schools, museums and galleries and is a judge for several prestigious prizes including the Embassy of Japan in London’s ‘Manga Jiman’ Award and The Observer / Jonathan Cape / Comica Graphic Short Story Prize.

He continues to write about comics for various periodicals, including The Guardian, The Times, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, The Times Literary Supplement, ArtReview, ArtReview Asia, The Comics Journal, Comic Heroes, Time Out, Blueprint, Neo, The Bookseller, Dazed & Confused, New Internationalist, Third Text, 9eme Art and The Jewish Quarterly.

His recent books include Comics Art, published by Tate Publishing (2013) and Yale University Press (2014), and Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK (2014) with John Harris Dunning, published by The British Library. This accompanied the exhibition of the same name which Gravett and Dunning co-curated at The British Library, the largest exhibition of British comics ever held in the UK, which attracted some 60,000 visitors, almost half of them first-time visitors.

In 2016, Paul co-curated the exhibitions: Comix Creatrix: 100 Women Making Comics at House of Illustration, London; The Story of British Comics So Far…: Cor! By Gum! Zarjaz! at The Lightbox, Woking, Surrey; and Land Escapes: Contemporary Comics from the United Kingdom at Fondazione Benetton, Palazzo Bomben, Treviso, Italy.

For 2017, Paul completed a combination of a major new book for Thames & Hudson and a related exhibition for The Barbican Centre. Mangasia: Wonderlands of Asian Comics is the first exhibition to explore manga or Japanese comics in a wider Asian content and survey the comics cultures of nearly twenty Asian countries. Mangasia opens in Rome at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni and continues to other venues in 2018 including Le Lieu Unique in Nantes, France, followed by a further global tour of Europe, North and South America, Asia and elsewhere, for a maximum total period of five years.

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission from the artist. The conversation with Mr. Nevo was recorded at Rocking Horse Cafe in NYC and the one with Mr. Gravett was recorded at the home of John & Judith Clute in London 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. Nevo by I-don’t-know-whom. The one of Mr. Gravett by me. It’s on my instagram.