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Apple Cart, Ep. 1 (Festival)

August 7, 2011 - Literary Death Match's inaugural Apple Cart Festival event in Victoria Park, east London, concluded with Abigail Tartellin  winning the LDM crown (well, medal) against co-finalist Nikesh Shukla, following a neck-and-neck battle of 'East End Matching Pairs'.

The show kicked off with poet Ashna Sarkar battling Nikesh Shukla. Sarkar packed a punch with the first reading of the afternoon, beginning by asking the audience if they'd "ever faked an orgasm" — surprisingly, two small children responded in the affirmative. She read a selection of her poems, including "Upney Pass" -  a piece about dogging in a cemetary — which prompted judge Terry Saunders to quip that the cemetery should apply for arts council funding for what is clearly 'performance art'.

Up next in round 1 was Kabaddasses writer Shukla, reading from his book 'Coconut Unlimited', a beautifully observed coming-of-age tale about a rather square young Asian boy. After his cool cousin from Croydon introduces him to hip-hop — "It's about...not believing the hype, and shit!" is his explanation of the lyrics in Public Enemy's eponymous hit — he forms a cringeworthy hip-hop crew 'Coconut Unlimited' with the two other Asian boys in his mostly white north London private school school, and together they pen modest rhymes about being 'pretty cool'.

The judges (east-end legend and i-D music editor Princess Julia, comedian Terry Saunders and urban culture expert Dean Ricketts) commented on the vivid pictures painted by both readers; Princess Julia thought Shukla's extract "captured a moment in time...painted a picture of the 1990's".

Round two saw Tim Thornton battle Abigail Tartellin. Thornton — otherwise known as the drummer in alt-blues band Fink — aptly read a festival-based excerpt from his book 'Death of an Unsigned Band'. He narrated the story of his "silly little pissed indie fan" who falls asleep in front of a festival stage only to wake up with his friends nowhere to be seen, surrounded by docile metal fans who he systematically attempts to rile by singing indie songs while their favourite metal band is on stage. "The logic of the heavily intoxicated", indeed!

Tartellin fought back with a reading from her book 'Flick' — a warts-and-all portrayal of modern teenage life — 'Skins' turned up to 11! Her excerpt front the point of view of a young boy desperately trying to get off with the object of his lust at a house party, only to be foiled by his responsibility to look after his younger sister. 

The mic was then handed back to the judges, who remarked that it was difficult to choose which was better. Ricketts said he closed his eyes during Thornton's reading and could imagine being at that music festival. Princess Julia quipped that it gave the reader a good sense of being in the crowd at Reading festival! Saunders said Thornton's protagonist reminded him of his 16 year old self....but he was jealous that his 16 year old self was nothing like the kids in Tartellin's reading! Conversely, Ricketts said Tartellin's tight and accurate portrayal of modern youths made him very glad he was not a teenager.

After a deliberation, the judges decided Tartellin and Shukla had won in their respective rounds.

The Death Match concluded with an 'East End Matching Pairs' finale. Our glamorous assistants (eleven audience members) held up cards bearing images of east London institutions (such as Barbara Windsor and Gilbert & George). It was a closely contested game but  Tarttelin snatched glory and took home both the coveted Literary Death Match medal and literary immortality, to boot.

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    Apple Cart, Ep. 1 (Festival) - Journal - Literary Death Match
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    Apple Cart, Ep. 1 (Festival) - Journal - Literary Death Match
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