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LDM100: Toronto

November 2, 2010 — A ridiculously talent-laden night at The Drake Hotel set a pitch-perfect tone for the final stop on the LDM100 tour, finishing with screenwriter/cult hero Andrew Kaufman out-memorying co-finalist poet/master-reader Susan Holbrook by a wowing 9-4 score, to claim the Literary Death Match crown. 

But well before memories were tested, the night began with New York Times bestseller Ibi Kaslik (The Angel Riots) leading off with a LDM-first: she played electric guitar while she reeled off a list-based narrative that had the audience madly clapping, followed by Kaufman (All My Friends are SuperheroesThe Waterproof Bible) who charmed with a short story about his mother splitting into 98 tiny mothers with greying heads. 

Host and LDM creator Todd Zuniga, donning an Against Nature suit, handed the mic to the night's trio of top-shelf judges: Bookmadam Julie Wilson (curator of Seen Reading), doer-of-awesome Lisa Gabriele (author of The Almost Archer Sisters; Dragon's Den senior producer), and author/journalist Chris Shulgan (Superdad: A Memoir of Rebellion, Drugs and Fatherhood). 

Wilson had preprepped her responses before ever hearing or reading the storeis, which led to hilarious comparisons, particularly in praise of Kaslik's musicality, while Shulgan and Gabriele both gently chastised Kaufman for the tie-and-untucked-shirt combo. After a short and difficult deliberation, though, they make the tough decision of sending Kaufman on as the night's first finalist. 

After a drink-powered intermission, the night continued with an epic second round clash that led off with Coach House Books rep Holbrook (Joy is So Exhausting) who read an oddball poem about inserting a tampon that filled the room with nonstop titters and absolute delight. Next up was playwright/novelist Claudia Dey, who read a sleazy-sexy-brilliant excerpt from her all-new How to Be a Bush Pilot: A Field Guide to Getting Luckier, that left the packed room hot, bothered and cheering wildly. 

Again the judges were center stage, with Gabriele first admitting that what she learned from the LDM is that to be a published author, you have to be hot. And that she felt like listening to Dey was like being in a bath of kittens and heroin. Shulgan was momentarily stuttered by all the sex and nether region imagery, but felt their tights — Holbrook's plaid v. Dey's red/black ripped fishnets — were both equally fantastic. In the end, though, after another tough decision, they narrowly voted for Holbrook to advance to face Kaufman in the finals. 

The finale had 16 volunteers come on stage to be part of a Literary Memory game that featured crossover Torontonian authors from Margaret Atwood to Michael Ondatjee to Pasha Mall to Norm MacDonald. Holbrook had first guess, but it was Kaufman who raced out to a 4-0 lead before Holbrook tightened things. But with his volunteer teammate beside him, Kaufman widened the gap, and with the game on the line, his memory succeeded when it was needed most: he was able to claim the 9-4 victory, secure the LDM crown, and win literary immortality. 

Reader Comments (1)

Just me getting the word out again!

Patrick Connors

November 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick Connors

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