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Boston, Ep. 5

January 25, 2011 — On an icy northeast evening, the Literary Death Match returned to Cambridge's Enormous Room for an electric night of literary and comedic merriment (a sold out night!) that saw PEN Discovery Award-winner and New York Tyrant rep Eugenio Volpe overtake Best American Short Stories series editor Heidi Pitlor (author of The Birthdays) in a hotly contested (and longest-ever) match of Literary Memory by a score of 15 to 11 to win the first LDM crown of 2011. 

The LDM's fifth Beantown event — set in motion to celebrate the signing of our first ever TV option (!) — kicked off with co-host Kirsten Sims introducing the night's first pairing: Volpe v. 2010 Flatmancrooked Fiction Prize winner Myfanwy Collins (representing Quick Fiction). Collins led off with a spectacular pair of tales, one answering questions about buddhists having sex, before Volpe countered with an energetic offering about a 14-year-olds clumsy sexual encounter with his older, redheaded babysitter. 

The mic was then turned over to the night's trio of sensational judges that included Boston Phoenix's comedian of the year Mehran Khaghani, Broken Singles rock goddess Sarah Borges, and Grub Street's brilliant artistic director Chris Castellani (author of the award-winning The Saint of Lost Things). In response Volpe, Castellani admitted his own teen-crush Who's the Boss?/Tony Danza leanings, while Borges brought a roar rom the crowd when she admitted to watching Volpe's mother-in-law's face during his entire, mostly-memoir reading, and Mehran commended Collins' courage when, in her second story, the character admitted to condomless sex (also calling out that the man she referred to was very likely a nutjob). 

Time constraints meant no boozy intermission, and the night raced towards Round 2, which saw Pitlor (representing Ploughshares) quiet the rowdy crowd with a stunningly brilliant entry from her new novel-in-progress that occurred on the last day of the character's life.  Then up-stepped humor mastermind Christopher Monks (McSweeney's rep and author The Ultimate Game Guide to Your Life), who delighted the audience with a piece about being emasculated by a visit from a repairman. 

The mic was again turned over to the arbiters of lit, with Castellani praising Pitlor's dichotomy of a nice situation versus the underlying doom-and-gloom, and Mehran brought down the house saying he "always loves a story about a black family." Then Borges said Monks embodied his main character, while Castellani hilariously relayed a story of dropping his toilet paper roller into the toilet. 

Then came the finale, with LDM creator and co-host Todd Zuniga leading proceedings in what turned into a wild game of Literary Memory, in which each finalist was paired with a teammate plucked from the crowd, then they teamed to pick pairs of famous Massachusetts authors — from Tom Perrotta to Kay Sexton, Ha Jin to Sylvia Plath. After a wild it-could-go-either-way back and forth, in the end Team Volpe would not be denied, selecting the necessary pairs to win not only LDM victory, but literary immortality. 

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