The other Bat man
This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.
Bat Segundo has been interviewing authors on his podcast since just about the beginning of podcast time. Segundo is the alter ego of Edward Champion, a litblogger who also writes book reviews, for this paper among others. Sadly, this week he announced that he’s having trouble keeping the show going.
Shuttering the show would be a shame. Champion -- who took the character of Bat Segundo from the book ‘Ghostwritten’ by David Mitchell -- gives equal time to highbrow literature and popular culture. The authors above are a representatively diverse sample: (clockwise from left) hostess/actress Amy Sedaris (in sprinkles), seminal DJ Grandmaster Flash, Whiting Award-winning Marianne Wiggins, professor/TV interviewer James Lipton, debut novelist Garth Risk Hallberg and Charles Baxter, a National book Award finalist who’s considered a writers’ writer. He’s also talked to the prolific, intense William T. Vollman, bestselling chick-lit writer Jennifer Weiner and hundreds of other authors -- all archived on his site.
The interviews reveal that Champion is a passionate reader, one with both smarts and strong opinions. Sometimes he challenges writers, usually in good ways; occasionally he’s annoyed them, as he reveals in this transcribed exchange with Oliver Sacks. His willingness to press a point -- even when this might alienate his subjects -- sets him apart as a contemporary interviewer. So do his elaborate, Bat Segundo introductions, which are produced with a mind-boggling creativity and variety.
As of this writing, it looks like Champion may have found a way to keep the Bat Segundo franchise going, possibly with a slimmer schedule. That’s good news; the literary world would be darker without this caped crusader.
Garth Rish Hallberg photo by Timothy Briner; Charles Baxter photo by Keith E. Johnson