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Latitude Festival, Ep. 1

July 14, 2011 — In the most populated LDM in Great Britain history (sponsored by Picador), droves showed to witness David Whitehouse win-out over Fiction Uncovered's Jake Wallis Simons by the largest margin of victory in LDM history (1985-to-1) in a Deal Or No Deal-style finish that won Whitehouse the LDM crown. 

But before the first box revealed a number-based book, the night kicked off with Simons read from his latest novel The English German Girl (described by Waterstone's as the "next big thing"), who read an excerpt about a bike ride in Nazi Germany. The up stepped his American competition, with inventive humorist Amanda Filipacchi (author of Love Creeps and Vapor) taking center stage. She read a story of a man who accidentally signed up for the wrong class, and was more than a bit lost when asked to sculpt his vagina out of clay. 

Then the mic was turned over to the judges: laugh-a-second humorist Terry Saunders, along with the brilliant Sam Leith (author of The Coincidence Engine), and conceptual artist Miriam Elia (creator of the Sony nominated BBC Radio 4 sketch show 'A Series of Psychotic Episodes'). About Simons, Saunders mentioned the distant drum sounds from the festival surprisingly gave him a sense of menace, and Leith admitted it didn't sound like a very nice bike ride, what with the threat of nazis. About Filipacchi, Elia loved the humor, and said it made her think about her vagina in a whole new way, while Saunders said it made him question being a man. 

After a deliberation, the judges made the tough decision of advancing Simons on as teh night's first finalist. 

Then LDM London executive producer Suzanne Azzopardi introduced Round 2, with David Whitehouse (author of Bed) up against the vibrantly off-color poet Sophie Cameron. Whitehouse read an excerpt from his novel, about giving a bed bath to a morbidly obese man, and Cameron followed with a wild swirl of poems that ranged from the first time she fell in love, to dealing with the grammar police. 

Again the mic was passed to the judges, with Elia loving Whitehouse's performance, and how it reminded her to live every day as if it was her last, while Saunders acknowledged that Whitehouse had bought him a packet of crisps on the train to Latitude, but launched the chips at him, declaring, "I'm returning your dirty bribe!" About Cameron, Leith admitted, "I would say, speaking as a posh cunt that it was marvellous!" while Saunders was worried about his arousal when mashed potatoes were mentioned.  

Again, the judges huddled, and after a chat, they decided it was Whitehouse who would be moved on as the night's second finalist. 

Then LDM creator Todd Zuniga and LDM London co-producer Bruno Vincent brought on ten volunteers for a paced game of Literary Deal Or No Deal. After eliminating four books with numbers in their titles — from 100 Years of Solitude to Catch-22 — they ended up with one box each, with the higher number winning the LDM crown. The tension in the air was palpable as Simons picked Whitehouse's final box, and Whitehouse picked Simons. When the final boxes were cracked open, it was Simons who ended up with One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (giving him one point) and Whitehouse dealing what will go down in history as the most crushing defeat in Literary Death Match history, pulling Anthony Burgess' 1985, giving him a whopping Orwell-sized victory by 1,984 points, along with winning him the LDM crown and literary immortality to go with it! 

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