A weekly conversation about books and life, not necessarily in that order.
Episode 499 - Hayley Campbell
Author, broadcaster, and journalist Hayley Campbell returns to the show to celebrate her fantastic new book, ALL THE LIVING AND THE DEAD: From Embalmers to Executioners, an Exploration of the People Who Have Made Death Their Life's Work (St. Martin's Press). We talk about Hayley's lifelong fascination with death, how it led her into this book, and how the book changed her relation to life and death. We get into the importance of bringing attention to the people who handle the dead, the reticence of some of her subjects to speak to her, the relationship between art & death and whether Warhol would have been different if he'd been willing to see his father's body, the difference between being desensitized and being detached about death, how she weaved her own story into the book without falling into me-me-me-ism or the dreaded Millennial Memoir, how she realized she was in too deep and how she got permission to step back, and plenty more. Follow Hayley Campbell on Twitter and Instagram and listen to our 2016 conversation • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 498 - Jonah Kinigstein
At 99 years old, unrepentant artist Jonah Kinigstein rejoins the show to celebrate his new book, Unrepentant Artist (Fantagraphics Underground)! We talk about how it felt to bring decades' worth of his paintings together for the book, how it captures his lifetime battle in the name of representational art, and how his paintings have changed since our 2015 conversation. We get into the inspiration of living near Coney Island, the fun of using Catholic imagery and making a circus out of religion in general, his love of the grotesque, the rage that fuels his political cartooning, the ways the Holocaust echoes in his work and whether he feels he has to be "careful" in his paintings of Jews, how he & his wife hope to celebrate his 100th birthday, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 497 - Dave McKean
What is art? Who (or what) is an artist? What is creativity, and can it be captured in a machine? Dave McKean's amazing new book, PROMPT: Conversations With Artificial Intelligence (Hourglass/ASFA), tries to tackle these questions, so Dave rejoins the show for a conversation about the challenges that Midjourney and other AI image-engines pose to the definitions of art and creativity, the nature of artistic intent, what it means for a machine to capture the look of drawing without an understanding of drawing, and what this all might mean for commercial art and illustration. We also talk about the nature of AI, how his Midjourney experience moved from Stalker to Solaris, why he introduced Gilgamesh, the world's oldest known story into the AI prompt, and whether the use of computers in art is a slippery slope to "hand-free" art. We also get into his lockdown life, his other new book, RAPTOR (Dark Horse), the importance of edgelands and the lost language of different places, and a lot more. Follow Dave on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 496 - Noah Van Sciver
Cartoonist Noah Van Sciver joins the show to celebrate the release of two fantastic new books, Joseph Smith And The Mormons (Abrams ComicArts) and As A Cartoonist (Fantagraphics). We get into his history with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the challenges he had in making a graphic biography of the church's founder (incl. the realization he'd need 200 more pages than he was planning to use), the visual modes he used to separate fact from myth and the influence of Chester Brown's Louis Riel biography, and how the book affected Noah's relationship to the church and faith. We also talk about the cartoonist life and the strips he chose for his new collection, his comics-origin story, the influence of Tom Spurgeon on his art & life, becoming a father in the past year, the advice Dan Clowes gave him about balancing parenthood and comics, and what it means to be present for his son's life. Plus, we discuss his own comics-podcast, the stories he started making during the pandemic, his stance on paper vs. digital drawing, and what it's like to live on the other side of his dreams. Follow Noah on Instagram and YouTube, and contribute to his Patreon • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 495 - Ruth Scurr
With her wonderful new biography, Napoleon: A Life Told In Gardens And Shadows (Liveright Books), Ruth Scurr offers up a new approach to Napoleon and our shifting understanding of the natural world. We get into the image of Napoleon as gardener and how she marked his history through gardens, how her conception of him changed over the course of writing the book, the need to avoid "taking sides" with her book, her focus on how Napoleon affected the people around him, why we need to let go of the Great Man approach to history, and why the notion of a 'Definitive Biography' is a lie. We also talk about how she became a biographer without developing a 'Scurr-doctrine,' how she fell into her amazing auto/biography of John Aubrey, the similarities between how Aubrey & I collect lives, the constraints of contemporary/authorized biographies, what it meant to finish her Napoleon biography in the early pandemic days (which meant missing trips to Elba & Waterloo), whether she'll ever visit St. Helena, what sort of garden she prefers, and more. Follow Ruth on Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
Episode 494 - Brian Doherty
Author Brian Doherty joins the show to celebrate his fantastic & important new book, Dirty Pictures: How an Underground Network of Nerds, Feminists, Misfits, Geniuses, Bikers, Potheads, Printers, Intellectuals, and Art School Rebels Revolutionized Art and Invented Comix (Abrams). We get into the history of underground comix, the twin poles of R. Crumb & Art Spiegelman, the long-lasting influence of the undergrounds on American (and global) culture, and the importance of seeing the undergrounds in their historical context. We also talk about comics and libertarianism, the controversy over Crumb's work today, how the pandemic curtailed his research for the book, who came up with that book title (& subtitle), the artist who he most enjoyed interviewing, and the one person he wishes hadn't given up cartooning. Follow Brian on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal
A Must Listen
To all those who appreciate the literary arts, this show is essential.
Step aside, Guy Raz
Step aside, Guy Raz. Gil Roth is my podcast crush now.
Great interviews with authors.
There are so many interesting books that never make it to the top of The New York Times bestseller list. This podcast consists of interviews with established authors who may not be household names but who have written some very interesting books and lead very interesting lives.
Gil Roth does a great job interviewing them. I guarantee you’ll not only enjoy the interviews but get some great ideas for your next read.