October 21, 2020

Jules Feiffer on His Long, Varied Career

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Name it, and Jules Feiffer has done it. He’s a cartoonist, playwright, screenwriter, illustrator and memoirist. He’s won an Oscar and a Pulitzer Prize, among other accolades. This week, he visits the podcast to discuss his career and his new picture book for children, “Smart George,” a follow-up to his 1999 book “Bark, George.” Feiffer discusses, among other things, why it took him so long to return to George.

“I wanted to go back essentially a year or two later,” Feiffer says, “because I loved the character of George. I thought there was more to do with him. It was never far from my mind, as the years went by and I had no luck in coming up with any ideas, that someday, somehow, George would make a comeback. He was one of my favorite characters.”

Steve Inskeep, the co-host of NPR’s “Morning Edition,” visits the podcast to discuss his most recent book, “Imperfect Union,” about John Frémont and his wife, Jessie, a 19th-century couple influential in American politics. Inskeep discusses his approach to writing history, and how he finds the time to write books while working on a daily radio show.

“Part of it is that the work on the book relates to the work on the news,” Inskeep says. “I feel that I am covering different phases of the same giant story, the story of America. And when I got into the story of John and Jessie Frémont, this couple from the 19th century who were extraordinarily famous, and who sought fame and also sought power and were involved in the exploration of the American West, and John became a presidential candidate — the first ever candidate of the Republican Party — I feel that I am exploring an earlier version of the news we’re covering now.”

Also on this week’s episode, Alexandra Alter has news from the publishing world; and Dwight Garner and Jennifer Szalai talk about books they’ve recently reviewed. Pamela Paul is the host.

Here are the books discussed by The Times’s critics this week:

We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to [email protected].