By Samantha Samel
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn is chock-full of unique and talented writers, but Chris Campanioni stands out. He began his career as a journalist, which is not particularly unusual, but he also works as a model by day and teaches fiction writing and literature in the evening as a professor at the City University of New York. The Brooklyn Heights author, who recently released his debut novel “Going Down,” will appear in Brooklyn Heights to discuss his book this Sunday, Nov. 3, at Red Gravy.
A former journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle and the Newark Star-Ledger, Campanioni started writing his novel over six years ago when he began working simultaneously as a model and a copy editor. “In 2007, I was mainly exploring the issue of ‘growing up,’ especially in today's society in which the sociological parameters of adulthood have become increasingly outdated,” said Campanioni.
As he delved deeper into his writing, however, Campanioni realized the stakes were rising. “The novel became more than just a coming-of-age story and an exploration of my generation,” he said. “Going Down” focuses on the fashion industry from the lens of a Cuban-American journalist and male model. Struggling to manage such separate careers, the protagonist soon realizes he is living two lives, and as each becomes increasingly complex, he feels he is losing sight of himself. While Campanioni’s book explores the distinct experiences of being in the newsroom and on the runway, it also gives voice to a Latino model – a traditionally underrepresented figure.
Though Campanioni is often traveling for work, he feels fortunate to call Brooklyn home. In fact, Chris Selden, the protagonist in Campanioni’s novel, jokes at one point in the story that sooner or later, everyone moves to Brooklyn. That rings true for the author himself; in a recent interview Campanioni told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, “My mother actually lived in Greenpoint when she came to the United States from Poland, so I was always familiar with that area, but I became acquainted with Brooklyn Heights when I began dating my girlfriend, who has lived on Hicks and Joralemon since she was a child.”
As a writer and model, aesthetics are particularly important to Campanioni. “Brooklyn Heights is one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever lived in—so I feel especially fortunate that through all of my work-related travels, I’ve stopped here for the last three years,” he told the Eagle. “Because I do much of my writing while I’m on the run, and more specifically, running, the location is especially great because of all the fantastic trails bending from Red Hook through the Promenade and into DUMBO.”
Campanioni also values the distinct literary culture that permeates Brooklyn. “I love the energy and passion, and also, the committed audience following; you don't see weekly readings on this level in other cities,” he said. “With so many established and emerging authors and artists situated in this area, there’s no better place to be as a writer and a reader.”
The Nov. 3 event will begin at 2:30 p.m. Red Gravy is located at 151 Atlantic Ave. in Brooklyn Heights.