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London, Ep. 24

April 2, 2012 — The masses turned out in droves for Literary Death Match's epic celebration of Picador's 40th birthday at Kings Place, a magical night that ended with Marie Phillips narrowly out-skilling her co-finalist Will le Fleming in a wild game of Cadbury Egg 10-Pin/Book Bowling by a closer-than-it-appeared score of 15-10, winning Phillips the LDM London, Ep. 24 crown. 

But before the first Cadbury Egg was skid across Kings Place's gorgeous stage, the night kicked off with novelist-to-watch James Smythe (author of The Testimony and The Explorer: 7/1/13) against le Fleming in Round 1. Smythe led off with a stirring excerpt from his upcoming novel The Testimony (buy it on 26/4/12!), before le Fleming took center stage to wow the audience with an excerpt from his novel, Central Reservation

The mic was then handed to the trio of superstar judges: author DJ Taylor (initials; not a disc jockey) who won the Whitbread for his biography of George Orwell, the immeasurable Jon Ronson (you know the one — The Psychopath Test guy? and author of The Men Who Stare at Goats), AND the delectable writer and hilaritist Jane Bussman

About Smythe, Taylor described his work as 'polyphonic' and said it had 'pizazz'. It left him bewildered but appreciative, while Bussmann commented on his jeans that looked to her as if they were from 'The Gap gang-banger range.' Ronson said it was terrific. About le Fleming, Taylor asked if he was related to Ian Fleming, while Ronson said his story 'put me off ever wanting to show my penis to anyone again.'

After a heated debate amongst the judges, it was le Fleming that was advanced as the nights first finalist. 

Then came Round 2 that pitted The Godless Boys author Naomi Wood against Phillips, author of Gods Behaving Badly (a film soon out that will star Christopher Walken and Sharon Stone — and she also wrote the BBC Radio 4 series Warhorses of Letters, starring Stephen Fry and Daniel Rigby). Wood read the opening pages from her excellent debut novel, while Phillips was the only reader to go off-book, reading a fictional (?) story about her time with male prostitutes. 

The mic again went to the judges, with Taylor discussing her residency at The British Library, while Bussmann loved Wood's attire that put everyone at ease, along with her honesty in revealing she had chickpeas for dinner, and Ronson, after a bevy of quips, admitted he thought it was terrific. About Phillips, Taylor praised her 'moral fibre' while Bussmann liked the fact that it was Phillip's aunt that had given her the birthday money to pay for the male escort, and Ronson capped it off by asking if the story was real (Phillips was vague in answering), then told everyone how he tried to order porn from a concierge at a hotel when he was 20, and ended up watching Schindler's List.

Another impossible decision, but the judges made it after a lenghty deliberation, and decided it was Philips who would be the night's second finalist. 

Then came one of the most wondrously odd finales in Literary Death Match history. LDM creator Todd Zuniga & LDM London Executive Producer Suzanne Azzopardi took center stage to explain the rules: each finalist (with the help of a volunteer) would bowl three frames, tossing Cadbury Eggs at an arrangement of Picador Classics (The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano! Room by Emma Donoghue!). After trading pins in Frame 1, it was Frame 2 that would decide it, with Phillips' volunteer teeing off for a whopping score of 7. Then, with the score 15-8, the game was on le Fleming's fingertips. His first toss: 1 book was knocked asunder. With six pins needed for a tie, le Fleming wound up...he threw...and only one book fell, giving him a final score of only 10. Marie Phillips was declared winner of the Literary Death Match London medal, winning literary immortality with it. 

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