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Austin, Ep. 7

April 3, 2014 — In Literary Death Match's colossal return to magical Austin — and more specifically Alamo Ritz— the packed house saw Neal Pollack outduel Elizabeth McCracken in a Cyrillic-Off by a final score of 145.1 to 145 — the narrowest of margins — to win Pollack the LDM Austin, Ep. 7 crown. 

But before the finale was even a thought, the night kicked off with Jennifer DuBois, author of A Partial History of Lost Causes wowing out of the gate with an excerpt from her award-winning novel CartwheelNext it was firestarter Elizabeth McCracken, author of NY Times Notable An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, who brought the brilliance with the worldwide debut of her all-new essay: The Container and the Thing Contained. 

The mic was then handed over to the night's trio of all-star judges: Sarah Bird, Texas Literary Hall of Famer and author of Above the East China SeaBob SchneiderAustin Music Awards' Musician of the Year 2013-14Owen Egerton, screenwriter, performer and author of How Best to Avoid Dying. The trio went all over the map to grab laughs and bring the inanity, before making the night's way-difficult decision by naming McCracken the night's first finalist. 

Then it was Round 2, which began with Manuel Gonzales (author of The Miniature Wife and Other Stories) who dazzled with an escape-from-a-mall tale that was horrifying and funny all at once. Finally it was Pollack, author of Downward-Facing DeathJewball and Alternadad, who offered up a debut of his own, the first time he read from his new novel Repeat, a book about a world in which everyone was doomed to repeat the first forty years of their life over and over. 

Again the judges were center stage, and delivered gobs of applause and absurdity before making another way-hard decision, deciding it would be Pollack who would be the night's second finalist. 

Then up stepped LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga, who announced the night's finale: a Cyrillic-Off, in which Pollack and McCracken (with the help of volunteers from the crowd) were tasked with decoding Pulitzer Prize winning author names that had been translated into cyrillic. It was neck-and-neck from start to finish and with everything to play for it was Pollack who — controversially! — gave the final answer, winning him the LDM Austin, Ep. 7 medal, and literary immortality to go with it.

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