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London, Ep. 10

November 17, 2010 — Before a packed-to-the-gills Concrete crowd (and a ridiculously attractive one, at that), Literary Death Match London's 10th-episode celebration ended with a deliriously raucous (and, we'll admit, somewhat confusing) Mark Zuckerberg/Social Network-style finale that saw champion Sabrina Mahfouz out-"add" Elizabeth Jenner by a total "friend" count of 14-12, winning her the LDM crown. 

See the pictures from LDM London, Ep. 10 by clicking here!

But well before the first famous author "Like" button was clicked, the night kicked off in fantastic fashion with Jenner going up against Let Me Tell You About Me event creator Jean Hannah Edelstein. Jenner's short fiction silenced the tipsy crowd in short order, an eerily disquieting story of wintry sexlessness, followed by Edelstein's splendid explanation of overcoming her wild fear of flying. 

The mic was then handed over to the cast of all-star judges: writer, poetess, illustrator extraordinaire Laura Dockrill, T4’s brilliant Rick Edwards, and poet, performer, writer and Book Club Boutique’s queen bee Salena Godden. While Godden admitted she loved Jenner's piece, she was disappointed by the lack of sex or death in it, then mentioned alternate uses for mango (oral sex practice). Edwards, thrown by seeing mango in an entirely new light, praised Edelstein's utter lack of response when the the Time Limit Object (thrown when a reader goes over seven minutes) gently struck her left shoulder. Dockrill, charming as ever and in sparkly red No-Place-Like-Home footwear, doubled the crowd's laughter with light barbs, like this one about Jenner's piece: "I loved the imagery of there being a missing apple - because you would notice a missing apple - it's one of those things that you purposely go out and buy." 

The judges then chattered, making the tough decision of sending Jenner on to be the night's first finalist. 

After a drinks-and-chatter filled intermission, Round 2 launched with co-host (and London producer) Suzanne Azzopardi introducing the night's second pair of readers: Ben Johncock against Mahfouz. After the flipping of Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, Mahfouz opted to read last, putting Johncock at center stage.  

Johncock was masterful, opening with quick-witted anecdotes about the family name, then proceeded to tell a tale of an astronaut and his wife — the astronaut kicking it in the Mojave Desert, while his wife was at home. Then up stepped Mahfouz, cheered on by her fantastic front-row supporters. She dazzled with a sordid three-part imagination-capturing piece that delved into different types of strippers.  

Again the judges were in the spotlight, with Edwards hilariously commented on following Johncock's spare hand throughout the reading, as it moved from pocket, to side, to paper, while Dockrill noted that she expected Johncock to break out into a dance, and wish he would have. About Mahfouz, Godden was starry-eyed and complimentary, while Edwards was delighted by her reprising a bit of 2Unlimited's 'No Limits.' 

The judges huddled again, up against another impossible decision, but after a lengthy deliberation decided the night's second finalist would be poet/playwright/performer Mahfouz. 

Then Todd Zuniga took center stage for a wild, life-changing finale: "The Literary Network." In turn, Jenner then Mahfouz were each offered to "Like" one of two English authors, and in selecting either of the big-hitters, the card was flipped, winning them "friends" from the audience that matched the description on the back of the card. In Round 1 Jenner selected Nick Hornby ("He wrote About a Boy and Fever Pitch. Crowd members come up if you support Arsenal, or if you have a son"). It won her six friends. But Mahfouz stormed back, with her selection of Harold Pinter: "He wrote "The Homecoming." Come up if you live at home, or you live in Hackney (where he died)."

In Round 2, Jenner selected Evie Wyld: "She won the 2009 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize — come up if your name is John, Llewellyn, Rhys or Prize. Or you work in Peckham." Only two Johns were in the audience, putting Mahfouz in place to take the lead, and she did well by selecting Irvine Welsh: "his novels are not all recreational drug use: come up if you're a freemason or if you ever lived in Edinburgh." 

Down by one "Friend" and with only one selection left, Mahfouz selected Tom Stoppard: "If you were born in Czechoslovakia; or if you're an actor/actress (or studying to be one)." Three acting students came forth, giving Mahfouz the "Friends" she needed to make it 14-12, winning her the LDM Championship, and literary immortality. 

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