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LDM100: Kansas City

October 28, 2010 — A brilliant mid-midwestern evening at The Brick gone perfect, ended with Reading Reptile rep Gina Kaufmann winning the LDM crown by narrowly outmaneuvering One Story co-finalist Cote Smith 6-5 in a super-tight battle of KC Literary-Celebrity-and-Otherwise Card Sharks. 

But before the first playing card was flipped, the night began with Smith leading off with a sordid tale of parents finding their daughters sex tape online, followed by a boat trip-based narrative perfectly performed by actor/writer David Wayne Reed

After their performance, host and LDM creator Todd Zuniga handed the mic over to the trio of all-star judges: NEA grant and award-winning author Christie Hodgen (Elegies for the Brokenhearted), UMKC scribe-in-residence Whitney Terrell (The King of Kings County) and The Pitch managing editor/judgemaster Scott Wilson. 

The three let loose with a series jovial critiques — Hodgen praising each writers narratives; Terrell loving Reed's showmanship — before the three decided to send Smith on as the night's first finalist. 

After a boozy intermission, Round 2 commenced with Kaufmann taking center stage first, blazing through her story while pages flopped and fell to the ground, followed by Clancy Martin (author of How to Sell), who was able to overcome ghosts clanging in the rafters to tell a kissing-your-sister excerpt from his upcoming memoir. 

Again the judges were leaned on for their expertise, with Scott Wilson discussing the history of great publishing inventions, citing the printing press and then the stapler — which Kaufmann sorely needed, and Terrell loving Martin's spraying beer "Gallagher-style" onto the audience's front row. 

After a long and difficult deliberation, they voted for Kaufmann to advance as the night's second finalist. 

Then came the wild finale, aided by KC co-producers Annie Fischer and Liz Tascio, who along with three perfect strangers held Literary Death Match-backed playing cards, and the two finalists were asked to choose higher or lower than the card before it. Kaufmann was epic, jumping out to a 3-0 lead after round one, but Smith fired back with 2 points in round 2. In the final round, needing only one point to win, Kaufmann replaced Eminem (10) with Kate Space (7). She chose higher, and was correct: KC-born Ernest Hemingway (Ace) appeared, and Kaufmann was crowned Literary Death Match champion!


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