Monday, October 06, 2014

Ed Champion and Tao Lin: Double Standard?

I’m not a fan of either individual. Their styles of attack are different. Ed Champion goes after you with a mallet, Tao Lin, a stiletto. One is crude, the other subtle.

Still, the question has to be asked: Why are many literary insiders defending Tao Lin and not Ed Champion?

Is it because several publishing concerns have invested heavily in Tao Lin? I speak of Random House, Melville House, and the lit journal n+1. They’ll likely try to salvage the guy, if possible.

It’s curious that women writers, such as Sheila Heti, or Champion’s antagonist Emily Gould, are defending Tao Lin on twitter. Regarding Ed Champion, there’s been widespread agreement that he should be blackballed. Yet Ed Champion, to my knowledge, didn’t physically assault anybody. By all accounts, he had a good relationship with his girlfriend Sarah Weinman. He did write an insulting and crude review, and threatened a woman writer via twitter—threatened her not physically, but that he would publish nude photos of her. Bad enough—but Tao Lin and his fellow “Alt Lit” writer Stephen Tully Dierkes are accused of something more.

Champion has been tagged with the label of ambition—but who’s been more ambitious than Tao Lin?

Tao was one of the cool kids. Ed clearly was not. In the final analysis, do charm and glamour win out?

I have no answers regarding the two of them—am trying to figure out the mind of the established literary world, which still carries clout. I’ll say this: the problem may be that literary culture is centered in a single town. Which creates a hive mindset; in which nonconforming individuals are continually ostracized, and the everpresent thought is: Who’s In and Who’s Out?

(Read more about his issue at

NEW POP LIT is the better alternative.

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