Edward Champion: Critic, Producer of "The Bat Segundo Show" & Managing Editor of Reluctant Habits

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Bio:

Edward Champion is a writer, journalist, and critic whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, The Philly Inquirer, The San Francisco Chronicle, and numerous other publications.  He produces The Bat Segundo Show, a long-running cultural radio program devoted to lengthy in-depth conversations with some of the finest writers, thinkers, and idiosyncratic minds on this planet and is Managing Editor of Reluctant Habits, an online cultural magazine containing intermittent dispatches on numerous topics, as well as a quixotic, years-long, ongoing effort to read and write about every book on the Modern Library fiction and nonfiction canons.

What do you do best?

There are many bizarre skills I seem to possess, which include nimble hand-eye coordination, an ability to make a very tasty cheesecake from scratch, a fortitude forged on self-discipline that allows me to read very difficult books and walk very long distances, and a physical presence that apparently inspires people to tell me their life stories within minutes.  But I have a strange knack for finding the one factual detail, passage, or observation that eludes most people, in large part because I am very fond of paying close attention and plunging into books that nobody else in America seems to read anymore. Something tells me that this odd parlor trick is related to the way I can look at a Jumble puzzle and solve the entire thing by eye in less than a minute or my tendency to say yes to a long and very fun evening, even if I know that I have to wake up in a few hours.

What makes you the best? 

We only ride life's little carousel once. Seize the day! I never suffer from the FOMO phenomenon, in large part because my tendency to say yes (even though I have learned to say no) or to try anything I have never attempted leads me to experience bizarre adventures, whether in life or in work.  I have an insatiable curiosity that leads me down some very exotic rabbit holes, a great passion and empathy for outcasts and outliers, and am especially keen to understand those who are misunderstood or condemned.  It is vital for all of us to keep the floodgates open to as many perspectives as possible, even those we are likely to recoil from.  It is becoming more difficult for many otherwise thoughtful people to do this in our age of instant outrage, where people block someone on social media over something preposterously pedantic, like some vaguely ribald joke or a modest criticism of THE FORCE AWAKENS or FALLOUT 4.  The key to being a thinking and feeling human being is to embrace the ineffable and to summon the patience to find common ground with someone on the other side of the fence.

What are your aspirations? 

To grow, to learn, to work against my natural tendencies and discover new forms of expression.  To be truer in my work to the person that I am rather than the projection that has been erected.  I have shifted my work away from the clever and more towards the visceral.  I hope to instill my work with more compassion, which is where any artist takes the real narrative chances.

Biggest Success? 

That I'm still here today and that I'm quite happy: reading, writing, producing radio, still committed to evolving, and talking to good people like you.

Most Challenging Moment? 

I suffered a nervous breakdown in 2014, which resulted in a spate of online condemnation fueled by hatred, relentless and twisted conjectures: casual defamation from people who had never met me and who didn't know the real story.  While I own up to every mistake I have ever made, I lost everything I had and it seemed as if my life was going to involve walking around in rags, schlepping a shopping cart through the streets of Brooklyn until I died in a ditch somewhere.  But by doing some very serious work on myself and summoning every ounce of positivism I could muster from a truly horrific situation that I would not wish on my worst enemy, I was able to escape the greatest calamity that I have ever faced in my life and now live a far happier existence.

Favorite Motto? 

"Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent." -- Eleanor Roosevelt

Favorite People? 

My true friends. Passionate people. Kind souls. Goofy intellects.  Reasonable rebels who have solid ideas about revolutionary change and act upon it.  Anyone who hasn't given up, who still has that giddy look in their eyes that hasn't been stubbed out by life's insurmountable challenges.

Favorite Places? 

New York City's limitless possibilities, Tennessee, Hudson Valley's bountiful mountains.

Favorite Products? 

I'm not really a corporate guy and cannot pledge brand loyalty to anything.  My constitution is, for better or worse, devoted to rebelling against plutocracy, with its attendant income inequality, and the despicable consumerist bear trap that has caused most Americans to suffer some form of grief.  Having said that, you won't find me abandoning Moleskine or Leuchtturm notebooks anytime soon.

Current Passions?

I recently discovered the novels of Muriel Spark (late to the party, I know), who is a superlative stylist and marvelous chronicler of life.  Any young writer should study the way she tinkers with narrative time (and urge bookstores to replace their Nicholas Sparks stock with the true Spark from Scotland!), for her innovations are still quite fresh decades later.  Salsa dancing, cooking, scandalous anthropological investigations that I probably shouldn't divulge here. Too many to list.

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