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Brattleboro, Ep. 1

October 12, 2012 — On a chilly early-autumn in brilliant Vermont, Literary Death Match teamed with the Brattleboro Literary Festival that turned the town into Battle-boro for a brilliant, jam-packed night that saw Tayari Jones outduel Victor LaValle in a fierce game of Literary Pictionary by a score of 3-1 to win Jones the Literary Death Match Brattleboro debut. 

But before the chisel-tipped Sharpie was even a consideration, the fantastic night kicked off with Matthew Dicks (author of Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend) up against LaValle. Dicks told the true story of a shoe heist when he was 26, that resulted in him and his friend having a set of left-footed children's shoes. Next up was LaValle, who read the dramatic and measured opening chapter from his novel Big Machine

The mic was then turned over to the trio of all-star judges: novelist extraordinaire Stewart O’Nan (author of The Odds and Everyday People), award-winning poet — and former LDM finalist  — Major Jackson (author of Holding Company and Hoops), and children’s lit extraordinaire Jane Yolen. The crowd whooped with joy as O'Nan delivered non-stop laugh lines, followed by the dulcet-voiced Jackson who praised both writers. Yolen finished giving LaValle and Dicks both a 9. After a huddle, they made the impossible decision, and declared LaValle as the night's first finalist. 

After a brief intermission, Round 2 commenced with the southern-inspired Tayari Jones (author of Silver Sparrow) reading the night's shortest story from an audience member's iPad, followed by novelist/memoirist Deni Bechard who read from his memoir Cures for Hunger, a section about blackmailing his father to take him fishing, and a pornographic picture with a library in the background. 

Again the judges were handed the microphone, and the trio delivered with hummingbird-quick quips, ending with Yolen giving both Jones and Bechard a 9. Again they huddled, and Jackson noted that O'Nan and he "nearly had to armwrestle" to make the final call, but in the end it was Jones who was declared the night's second finalist. 

Then host and LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga took center stage, declaring the Literary Pictionary finale, in which audience members were tasked with drawing book titles from Time Magazine's 100 Books of All-Time, and after Team Jones (she was paired with past LDM champ Sarah Rose Etter) took a 2-0 lead, Team LaValle (he was paired with past LDM champ Courtney Maum) struck back with a point, but it was too little, too late, as Team Jones scored the knockout blow, winning Jones the LDM crown, and literary immortality to go with it. 

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Reader Comments (1)

Great info. I'm fond of reading poetry and novel and I love the word FREE.

October 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJustin Smith

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