Virtual Memories Show 445:
Heather Cass White

“I’m sure that my obsessive focus on reading, as much as it is anything else, is a sign of a wound, or a lack.”

Author & professor Heather Cass White joins the show to celebrate her wonderful new book. Books Promiscuously Read: Reading as a Way of Life (FSG). We get into what reading does & doesn’t do for us, how we can lose ourselves & find ourselves in books, how this book gestated for decades while she was working on her scholarship of Marianne Moore, how she snagged the title from a line by Milton, and how promiscuously we should read the word “promiscuously”. We also talk about her read-to-bits childhood copy of Anne of Green Gables, the possibility of getting too much out of Henry James, the lessons she took from studying with Harold Bloom, why you shouldn’t read as if you’re going to die (prompted by my recent health issues), the importance of keeping a patient attitude toward poetry, why she decided not to do more reading about reading once she started to write a book about reading, and more! Give it a listen! And go read Books Promiscuously Read!

“My experience of reading is that it is a whole self experience. I can’t think of many part of myself that haven’t been engaged in some point in my life as a reader. So I liked that sense of ‘promiscuously’ as both unplanned, haphazard, random, but also as playful, contrarian and transgressive. I liked the word for every reason.”

“Once I started to investigate the files in my computer, I discovered ones going back 15 or 20 years. I realized that this book had been waiting for me.”

“There’s very little that happens throughout the day that doesn’t spark some little verbal association to a poem or a novel. A good half of what I think, I don’t know if I even think it, so much as these words are in my head and have taken up residence there.”

“In a funny way, this book is repaying a kind of debt. Reading has shaped my life in every way possible, it felt like I owed it something.”

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

Heather Cass White has edited several collections of Marianne Moore’s work: New Collected Poems; A-Quiver with Significance: Marianne Moore, 1932–1936; and Adversity & Grace: Marianne Moore, 1936–1941. She is a professor of English at the University of Alabama. Her new book is Books Promiscuously Read.

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 Heather by Crosby Thomley. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 441:
Andi Watson

“The stories that don’t work out are the ones that don’t have a decent central character, or an environment or a unique way of drawing or approach or style you want to experiment with. The Book Tour was one where it all worked out.”

With The Book Tour (Top Shelf Productions), cartoonist Andi Watson makes his triumphant return to ‘grown-up’ comics, spinning a tale more Waugh than Kafka about a midlist British author on a book tour from hell. We get into the book’s path to publication, the new drawing style he developed for this one, why he’s shifted genres & styles over the course of his career, and how this book’s visual setting was inspired by Atget’s early-morning photos of Paris. We talk about the YA and middle-reader comics he’s made in recent years, the quirks of writing for different age-tiers, how comics publishing has changed since he got into the field in the ’90s, how Love & Rockets bent his brain at 18 & sent him on this wayward path, and why he’s looking forward to going on a real book tour for The Book Tour someday! Give it a listen! And go read The Book Tour!

“After all the years I’ve been making comics, the joy is still sitting down with a blank page, with a new project, the possibility of bringing something new into the world. There’s nothing in this world that I want to do.”

“Comics is so demanding of space. You can’t adapt a novel faithfully into a graphic novel, or it’d be a thousand pages. You’re always looking for the most concise way to compress time, or show emotion, or get a scene across.”

TUNEIN PLAYER TK

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

Andi Watson is a British cartoonist, writer and illustrator who has been nominated for two Eisners, a Harvey and a British Comics Award. He has written and drawn graphic novels in a wide variety of genres and for different age groups for publishers as diverse as Marvel, Dark Horse, Image, Walker books, First Second and Random House. His books have been translated into French, Spanish, Italian and German. He lives in Worcester with his wife and daughter.

Follow Andi on Twitter and Instagram, subscribe to his e-mail and support his work via Patreon.

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 Andi by Clara Watson. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 440:
Ron Hogan

“I feel like you’re writing because you have something to say, something that you’re trying to figure out, and I wanted to put my emphasis on that part of the process.”

Practice makes person! With his new book, Our Endless and Proper Work: Starting (and Sticking to) Your Writing Practice (Belt Publishing), Ron Hogan explores how writing can be the process of becoming who you are, the importance of attention & focus and a regular writing practice, and why process is more important than product. We get into his sensation of receiving a Calling a few years ago and how he’s carried that experience in his day-to-day life, the challenge of making your day job feed your inner life, the ways we can try to carve out time for that writing practice (and the ways to keep from beating yourself up when you don’t stick to it), and why letting go of competitive goals can be a boon for a writer. We also talk about what he learned during the pandemic, how the realness of our virtual selves has evolved along with the internet, what he gets from returning to Robert Anton Wilson’s memoir over the years, the misuses of Stoicism, and why he didn’t use the title of his great writing e-mail, Destroy Your Safe & Happy Lives, for the book. Give it a listen! And go read Our Endless And Proper Work!

(Also, subscribe to Ron’s e-mail, and listen to our 2015 podcast and our COVID Check-In!)

“If we have more attention & focus, if we step back from the routines that we’ve developed and that society has developed for us, and put our conscious attention into something else, the more capacity we develop.”

“I use ‘practice’ deliberately, to link it up with meditation, sitting with your thoughts, and sifting through them, and recognizing which ones are just passing and which actually speak to something you care about, and want not to keep inside, but want to share.”

“I think there’s a lot more to be said about the process of becoming, the process of finding yourself.”

TUNEIN PLAYER TK

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

Ron Hogan has been an industry analyst for a media website, a digital marketing director for a publishing house, a freelance book reviewer, and an acquiring editor for a startup book publisher. He is the founder of the literary site Beatrice, and creator of a popular newsletter about developing your writing practice, Destroy Your Safe and Happy Lives.

There’s a more extensive bio at Ron’s site.

Follow Ron 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 Chez Virtual Memories 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 Ron by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 439:
Glenn Head

“My whole interest in comics and autobiography is to show the dirt that’s under everyone’s fingernails, to capture that and not look away from it.”

With his new graphic memoir, Chartwell Manor (Fantagraphics), cartoonist Glenn Head returns to the scene of the crime: the boarding school where he and his fellow students were sexually and emotionally abused in the 1970s. We talk about why the toughest challenges of the book were artistic and not emotional, why he was just as unsparing in depicting himself as an adult, why the trauma of his time at Chartwell doesn’t provide him a get-out-of-jail-free card, and why it wasn’t exactly cathartic but was definitely empowering to draw and tell this story. We also get into why memoir is like striptease, the influence of the Patrick Melrose novels on this book, Glenn’s lifelong debt to the great Underground Comix artists, his drive for personal exposure, why his wife is his best editor (and only reader), the next book he’s working on, and more. Give it a listen! And go read Chartwell Manor!

(Also, go listen to my 2016 podcast with Glenn, where we talked about his previous memoir, Chicago!)

“I’m not the hero of this book. I wanted to bury and forget the scandal of what happened, but the corpse seemed to reanimate itself every so often.”

“I owe everything to the underground cartoonists, because they showed you what it means to be willing to dig around and see what’s inside and hold it up to the light.”

TUNEIN PLAYER TK

“One of the best things about any kind of recovery situation is to really find that you’re not alone.”

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

Born and raised in Madison, NJ, Glenn Head fell in love with underground comics while attending boarding school and has been involved with them ever since. He is a Harvey- and Eisner-nominated editor of two comix anthologies, Snake Eyes (co-edited with Kaz), and Hotwire. His solo work includes Avenue D and his graphic memoir Chicago, both published by Fantagraphics. His new book is Chartwell Manor.

Follow Glenn on Twitter and Instagram.

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 Glenn by someone else. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 438:
Will McPhail

Cartoonist and illustrator Will McPhail joins the show to celebrate his debut graphic novel, IN. We talk about weaponized self-awareness, the genesis of his poignant and hilarious tale of anhedonia, the value of real conversation, and how he stretched from single-panel cartoons to a long-form book. We also get into how finishing the book during the pandemic informed its earlier parts, what we’ll talk about when we can talk in person again, and how IN took him away from submitting gags to The New Yorker at an opportune moment. Plus we get into the problem with “mindfulness” apps and the real definition of meditation (which we happen to find in the same place), why I should pay more attention to Bill Watterson’s trees, and otters, stoats, and Will’s other favorite animals to draw. Give it a listen! And go read IN!

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

Will McPhail has been contributing cartoons, sketchbooks, and humor pieces to The New Yorker since 2014. He was the winner of Reuben Awards for cartooning in 2017 and 2018. He lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. His debut graphic novel is IN.

Follow Will on Twitter and Instagram.

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 Will by him. It’s on my instagram.