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Austin, Ep. 9

April 14, 2015 — For our annual, spring classic in Austin, we returned to The North Door for a blowout of the most extraordinary order, with a brilliant lineup that had the audience in throes that saw Jason Neulander outlast K.A. Holt in a rollicking game of Literary 20 Questions that won Neulander the LDM Austin, Ep. 9 crown. 

But well before the finale was even a thought, the night began with Neulander, the mind behind The Intergalactic Nemesis, and founder of Salvage Vanguard Theater, who ripped off a moody, voice-rich reading that awed the crowd. Next up was Cecil Castellucci, California Book Award Gold Medal-winning author of Grandma's Gloves, who read from her book Boy Proof, an excerpt about having a crush on the new kid with nice eyes.

Then the mic was handed over to the night's trio of all-star judges: Geoff Dyer, National Book Critics Circle Award-winner; author of But Beautiful & The SearchKathy Valentine, songwriter and musician from the Go-Go's and the solo album Light YearsAndy Langer, writer for Esquire & Texas Monthly, radio DJ for KGSR. After pouring praise on both writers, Langer brought up LDM Austin, Ep. 8 champion Neal Pollack to assist his judging, as he added oddball commentary, as well. Finally, the foursome huddled up, and made the night's first impossible decision: naming Neulander the night's first finalist. 

Then Round 2 kicked off with K.A. Holt, multi-award-nominated author of House ArrestRhyme Schemer and Brains for Lunch, who told the brilliant story of boy under house arrest, who wrote a court-ordered journal written in verse. Finally, it was Antonio Ruiz-Camacho, multiple award-winning author, who read from his staggering collection Barefoot Dogs, a story about the exchange between two teenage siblings sent to New York City who hear noises in the apartment. 

The mic again was handed to the judges, with praise abound for Holt and Ruiz-Camacho, and their way-skilled storytelling, before making the night's second impossible choice: advancing Holt to the finals. 

Then up stepped LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga, who announced the night's finale: Literary 20 Questions, in which Holt and Neulander each held pictures of a popular author/lyricist/actor to their forehead and asked the audience yes/no (and beyond) questions, trying to figure out who they were pressing to their foreheads. With everything to play for in the final round it was Neulander who nailed the final answer, winning him the Literary Death Match Austin, Ep. 9 medal, and literary immortality to go with it.