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Episode 193 – Ed Koren

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Virtual Memories Show #193: Ed Koren

“I’ve mined this little world that may or may not be exclusive to me, but it’s something that I’m interested in: the interface between country and city, between older and younger, between lifestyles. It’s an emotional and intellectual world I like probing.”

Ed Koren‘s cartoons and covers have graced The New Yorker for more than 50 years, so it was honor to record with him during CXC about his career, his perspective on generations of cartoonists, the development of his unique style (he has a good answer to my question, “Why so hairy?”), the persistence of his middle-class work ethic, his first encounter with the Undergrounds, his lithography “uptown” art, the advantages of having small ambitions, and more! Give it a listen!

“I still take enormous delight in starting and finishing and going through the uncharted seas of getting from here to there. There’s no map to get from an idea to a final culmination. (That’s what Dorothy Parker called single-panel cartoons: culminations.)”

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Well also talk about why he avoids Look Day, why he left NY for the country, the challenges of satire, the significance of The New Yorker in his household, the influence of Alley Oop and the Schmoo on his work, the shrinking economics of cartooning, his “ah, animals!” moment, his interest in long novels and single-panel comics, what he had to learn and what was innate, the benefits of being an outsider, and why he pined to join the Columbus Marathon outside our hotel. Now go listen to the show!

“I keep learning new things about color, and density, and structure. With each problem that I have to deal with comes and epiphany: ‘This is how it works!’ It may be self-renewing, but each time I move ahead.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! You might like:

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About our Guest

Edward Koren has long been associated with the The New Yorker magazine, where he has published over 1000 cartoons, as well as numerous covers and illustrations. He has also contributed to many other publications, including The New York Times, Newsweek, Time, G.Q., Esquire, Sports Illustrated, Vogue, Fortune, Vanity Fair, The Nation and The Boston Globe. His illustrated books include How to Eat Like a Child, Teenage Romance and Do I Have to Say Hello (all by Delia Ephron), A Dog’s Life by Peter Mayle, Pet Peeves by George Plimpton, and The New Legal Seafoods Cookbook by Roger Berkowitz and Jane Doerfer. Thelonius Monster’s Sky-High Fly Pie was published in 2006, Oops by Alan Katz in 2008, How to Clean Your Room in 2010 and Poems I Wrote When No One Was Looking by Alan Katz in 2011. He has also written and illustrated books for children, Behind the Wheel, and Very Hairy Harry. He has also published six collections of cartoons which first appeared in The New Yorker, the most recent being The Hard Work of Simple Living.

Born in New York City, Koren attended the Horace Mann School and Columbia University. He did graduate work in etching and engraving with S.W. Hayter at Atelier 17 in Paris, and received an M.F.A. degree from Pratt Institute. He was on the faculty of Brown University for many years.

Koren’s cartoons, drawing and prints have been widely exhibited in shows across the United States as well as in France, England and Czechoslovakia. He has exhibited at the Middlebury College Museum of Art, the Washington Art Association, Terry Dintenfass Gallery, the Virginia Lynch Gallery, The Luise Ross Gallery, and Big Town Gallery. His work is also in the permanent collections of the Fogg Museum, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, the Princeton University Museum, The Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge University, and in the Swann Collection at the Library of Congress. A major retrospective of his work was shown at Columbia University’s Wallach Gallery in 2010, and at the University of Vermont’s Fleming Museum in the summer of 2011.

Edward Koren has received a Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from Union College, and been a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow. He was Distinguished Visitor at The American Academy in Berlin, Germany in 2003.In 2007 he received The Vermont Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. He has been a member of the Brookfield, VT Volunteer Fire Department for 24 years. He lives in Vermont with his family.

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

Episode 115 – Idlers and Belgians

Virtual Memories Show:
Edward Mendelson – Idlers and Belgians

“I have a private test for whether I’m an individual person or whether I’m part of the culture: I go to the supermarket and I look at the supermarket weeklies, and if I recognize the names, then I’m not a person, I’m a product of collective culture.”

moral-agents200Professor Edward Mendelson joins the show to talk about his new book, Moral Agents: Eight Twentieth-Century American Writers (New York Review Books), which profiles Lionel Triling, Dwight Macdonald, Alfred Kazin, William Maxwell, Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, WH Auden, Frank O’Hara. We discuss the role of individuals in mass culture, the intellectual’s temptation to be a leader, the outdated figure of the Beloved Professor, Orwell’s misinterpretation of Auden, the writer he was terrified to meet, the failures of identity politics, the purpose of Columbia University’s Core Curriculum, his lack of nostalgia for the era of public intellectuals, the way certain books need a year off from teaching in order to recharge, and more. Give it a listen!

“All these writers were tempted by the way they were taken seriously.”

We also talk about why he hates one of my favorite novels, why he agrees with my take on Achilles’ uncanniness in the Iliad, why professors think students are getting dumber year after year, how the economic collapse of the ’70s led to improved colleges across the country, why he thinks Stoner is a study in self-pity, and more! Go listen!

Edward Mendelson on the Virtual Memories Show

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! You might like:

Follow The Virtual Memories Show on iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

At Columbia since 1981, Professor Edward Mendelson has also taught at Yale and Harvard. A recipient of American Council of Learned Societies, NEH, and Guggenheim fellowships, he is chiefly interested in 19th-and 20th-century literature, formal and social aspects of poetry and narrative, and biographical criticism. He is Auden’s literary executor; his book Later Auden (1999) is a sequel to his Early Auden (1981). His book, The Things That Matter: What Seven Classic Novels Have to Say About the Stages of Life, was published by Pantheon in 2006. His new book is Moral Agents: Eight Twentieth-Century American Writers, from New York Review Books. He has edited a volume of essays on Thomas Pynchon and, with Michael Seidel, Homer to Brecht: The European Epic & Dramatic Traditions. He has prepared editions of novels by Hardy, Bennett, Meredith, Wells, and Trollope, the first five volumes of a complete edition of Auden, and selections of Auden’s poems and prose. His essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Review of Books, London Review of Books, TLS, the New York Times Book Review, and many other journals and collections, and he wrote an introduction for a new edition of Gravity’s Rainbow. He has also written about computers, music, and the visual arts. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was the first Isabel Dalhousie Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh.

Credits: This episode’s music is Homesickness by Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou. The conversation was recorded at Mr. Mendelson’s office on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Blue Yeti USB Microphone. Processing was done in Audacity and Logic Pro. Photo of Mr. Mendelson by me.

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