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London, Ep. 11

December 14, 2010 — In one of the great pop-culture Xmas specials of all-time, Literary Death Match London's Picador Books-sponsored yuletide celebration at Concrete ended when the audience-populated judges panel selected "Team A" (featuring Susan Barker) over "Team B" (led by runner-up Amy Sackville) by a score of 2-1 in a wild game of Literary Christmas Caroling, to make Barker the LDM Champ. 

"Team A" Sings "______ the Halls!" with Barker center stage. (Click for photos from LDM London, Ep. 11)

The merry night kicked off LDM London producer Suzanne Azzopardi who introducer Barker (author of The Orientalist and the Ghost), who started off with a strikingly sultry and comic excerpt about concubines from the Tang Dynasty, followed by John Lucas who read a brilliant story about a Marc Almond fan who lived a humdrum life a straight, wife-and-kids suburban existence, and believed the music of Almond always, until the end, perfectly defined the universe.

The mic was then handed over to the judges, including LDM champ and general genius Greg Stekelman (A Year in the Life of the Man Who Fell Asleep), burlesque queen Karen McLeod (In Search of the Missing Eyelash) and Shaun Keaveny of BBC 6 Music (author of the newly launched R2D2 Lives in Preston). Stekelman hilariously relayed ways in which both stories related specifically to him, while McLeod had the audience roaring when she admitted she loved Barker's use of the euphemism "pushing the boat up the river," as it reminded her of her youth when she would wait to poop for as long as she could because it felt so good. Keaveny admitted he hadn't had sex for ages — his pregnant wife was due the next day — so he particularly enjoyed Barker's reading.

After a difficult deliberation, the judges opted to send Barker on to the finals. 

After an intermission, the second round was intro'd by co-host Bruno Vincent, who introduced Robbie Hudson (The Kilburn Social Club) who was masterful, going without a mic or paper, to storytell about Amy the Destroyer, a helpless snoop who pried into others' affairs only to discover romance with a fellow snooper. Then came recent John Llewellyn Rhys Prize-champ Sackville who read from The Still Point, an excerpt about Antarctic explorers dying of starvation, hallucinating in the night, and one of them using a single precious bullet to kill a fox to survive. 

Again the judges were center stage, with Stekelman praising Sackville's artistry, admitting that he sometimes gets up in the middle of the night to hunt foxes on the streets of London, then McLeod admitting a surprise "movement" in her pants, aroused by Hudson. 

The judges again were faced with a tough choice, and after much discussion, Sackville was advanced as the night's second finalist. 

Then up stepped LDM creator/co-host Todd Zuniga, who invited eight audience members from the crowd, and paired them — four apiece — with Sackville and Barker. Then three more volunteers were brought on to judge, faced away from the stage in blindfold-free attempt at blindfolding. Barker's "Team A" was tasked with singing a Mad Libs-infused version of Deck the Halls, followed by the Sackville-led "Team B" that reeled off a version of Jingle Bells. The songs featured audience-given words like "tricycle," "woollen" and "shit" to replace words in the well-known songs. The chorus' sang with angelic beauty, both, but in the end, "musicality" won out, and thanks to her team, Barker was crowned Literary Death Match Champion, and granted literary immortality. 


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Reader Comments (3)

death to literary death match. sorry bored by this simon cowell-like, publishing industry-sponsored nonsense.

December 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGeorgina Smith

Georgina: Luckily, attending our event isn't mandatory. And your comment ("Cowell-like") seems to suggest you've never been. Wonder if you have. Most writers that have done it don't have the feeling that they've been Cowell'd, as that's not what the event's about.

December 13, 2010 | Registered CommenterLiterary Death Match

I had a brilliant time! It was my third LDM running and the whole set up, the acts and the judges were absolutely brilliant. It's an awesome thing to come to and it's really enjoyable. A very good range of acts and Susan certainly deserved to win, though my congratulations go to all of the acts. Well done, bring on February!

December 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGoat

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