Episode 502 – Jerome Charyn

Virtual Memories Show 502:
Jerome Charyn

“Once you have the voice, you have the novel.”

Author, critic and film scholar Jerome Charyn rejoins the show to celebrate his new book, BIG RED: A Novel Starring Rita Hayworth & Orson Welles (Liveright Books). We get into how Hollywood created Jerome’s childhood & youth, his fascination with the tragic life of Rita Hayworth and her triumph of Gilda, his love of Orson Welles and Citizen Kane, and why he couldn’t write this novel in either of their voices. We talk about genius in many guises, from Welles to Melville to Dickinson to Shakespeare to Robert Caro to LeBron, and what it means when genius dissipates. We also discuss Jerome’s years teaching film criticism and why it was his favorite job (hint: it’s about learning to look deeply), what the mirror scene in The Lady from Shanghai is really telling us, why Hank Quinlan in Touch of Evil may be Welles’ greatest role, why film noir was Hollywood’s great discovery/invention, how Hemingway was the best writer in the world when he was in Paris and the worst writer in the world when he left Paris, whether his book editor (past guest Robert Weil) was touchy about how a film editor is one of Big Red‘s antagonists, why Kane was really about Welles himself & not William Randolph Hearst, why LeBron should have left Hollywood this offseason, the revelation of interviewing Paul Newman, and more! Give it a listen! And go read Big Red!

And go listen to my 2019 and 2021 conversations with Jerome!

“How is Melville able to write Moby-Dick at 30 years old? He wrote the book in one year, made a book that no one else could have made and no one has made since, and then basically disappeared. Genius comes and it leaves just as quickly.”

“Welles needed Hollywood as much as Hollywood needed him.”

“The melody of language in Hamlet is what I’ve been seeking all my life and will never never have. But does that mean you don’t try to have it?”

“Joyce’s great works were dated in some way, because they don’t deal with the total evil of the world. The world has changed so much from the time he wrote Ulysses. The human being has become monstrous.”

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

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About our Guest

Jerome Charyn is the award-winning author of more than 50 works, including The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy Kid, and The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson. A renowned scholar of twentieth-century Hollywood, he lives in Manhattan. His new book is Big Red: A Novel Starring Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles.

Follow Jerome on Twitter.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Jerome’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom PodTrak P4 digital recorder & interface. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Zoom PodTrak P4. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Casual photos of Jerome w/Lenore Riegel & me by me. Moody photo by Philippe Matsas. It’s on my instagram.

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