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LA, Ep. 38

July 21, 2015 — In our annual showcase at one LA's most brilliant cultural meccas, Literary Death Match returned to Hammer Museum for a brilliant night of literature, whimsy, witticism that ended with Liana Maeby out-dueling Jillian Lauren in a wild Cyrillic Off! that netted Maeby the LDM LA, Ep. 38 crown. 

But before Cyrillic letters were even a thought, the night kicked off with Amelia Gray, author of the all-new GutshotMuseum of the Weird, and the PEN/Faulkner finalist Threats, who read a thrillingly brilliant story about Bronies that had the crowd on the edge of their seats. Next up was Jillian Lauren, best-selling author of Some Girls and Pretty who read from her all-new Everything You Ever Wanted — a dazzling display of honesty about raising a special-needs child.

The mic was then handed to the superstar trio of judges: Jerry Stahl, best-selling author of Permanent Midnight, I, Fatty and the all-new OG DadJon Cryer, actor (Two and a Half Men; Pretty in Pink) and author of So That Happened; and Mary Elizabeth Ellis, actor from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia & Fox's upcoming The Grinder. The three praised Gray's prose and the lovely strangeness of her piece, then applauded Lauren's rich ability to tell stark truths. After a huddle, the trio had to make the night's first impossible decision relying on a coinflip, declaring Lauren as the night's first finalist. 

Then the night zipped into Round 2, with Liana Maeby reading the opening pages from her debut novel South on Highland — an excerpt about downing pills and the repercussions. Finally, it was journalist Sarah Tomlinson, who read a heartaching piece from her fantastic debut memoir Good Girl

The judges were again center stage, with Stahl calling out Maeby's novel for giving him flashbacks to his own drug-addled days, followed by the three judges hailing the freshness of Tomlinson's debut. But once again a decision had to be made, and facing another impossible decision, the judges decided it would be Maeby who would advance. 

Then up stepped LDM Creator Adrian Todd Zuniga who used the Hammer's monster screen to display "Cyrillicized" versions of Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, with each finalist (and a crowd-picked teammate) tasked with shouting out the author's name. Team Maeby launched into the early lead, and after a late Team Lauren charge, it was Team Maeby who nailed the final two answers, giving her a 11-7 victory, and winning her the LDM LA, Ep. 38 medal and literary immortality to go with it.