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Friday
May042012

London, Ep. 25

May 4, 2012- Celebrating the hippest hottest neighbourhood in London town, Literary Death Match joined forces with Land of Kings Festival for a Fiction Uncovered-presented and Picador-sponsored night of literary and comedic elecricity that ended with novelist Jon McGregor out-posturing performance poet Isley Lynn in a nail-biting Book Balancing Jenga finale to win winning McGregor the LDM London Ep. 25 crown.

But before the book balancing commenced, Round 1 kicked off with critically-acclaimed novelist Jon McGregor reading from his incredible short story collection, This Isn’t the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You) and wowing the audience with a candidly funny and clever tale of ‘the first boy in his class to get pubic hair’, aided by a giant hard-backed Oxford English dictionary and battered briefcase. Second up Sam Mills (BlackoutA Nicer Way to Die) read an excerpt from her darkly comic novel, The Quiddity of Will Self blurring the lines between fiction and reality.

The mic was then handed over  to our trio of superstar judges: Literary High Priestess Salena Godden, Bass Poet/Producer/DJ Charlie Dark and LDM London champion & wonder-wordsmith Stuart Evers (author of 10 Stories about Smoking and the forthcoming novel If This is Home).

McGregor’s tale of a young boy’s precocious puberty stirred the judges own memories of the first children in their schools to get ‘downstairs hair’. Evers described the tale as "laugh out loud funny" and "a clever piece of prose", whilst Godden described his onstage look as "mad & sexy". Dark recounted his own schoolyard moniker which had the crowd wide-mawed with laughter. On Mills, Evers confessed his own admiration for Will Self, while Godden recounted the time she gigged with Self in the nineties and was duly mesmerized by the size of his hands. After a heated debate, the judges decided that McGregor should go through as the night’s first finalist. 

Round 2 pitted hilarious wordsmith Nat Luurtsema (reading from new novel Cuckoo in the Nest) against performance poet Isley Lynn (creator Quilt Collective). Luurtsema tickled the audience with a brilliantly nostalgic and comic tale about rediscovering her childhood bedroom as an adult, complete with a ceiling adorned with blur posters and copies of Just Seventeen.  Lynn waded in with a wonderfully honest poem that had the audience on the edge of their seats and somehow contemplating why "glass dildos were not available on the NHS".  Yup, if LDM were subject to the laws of ratings, this show would definitely have been aired strictly post water shed.

The mic again went to the judges, with Dark praising Luurtsema for her confident delivery and the skillful way she worked the audience and Evers remarking that her references were "acute & beautifully rendered." On Lynn, Godden praised the young poet for her "brutal honesty" whilst Dark loved the way she told the story without it looking rehearsed and the lyrical complexities of her internal rhymes. Another impossible decision, but the judges hands were forced and after a lengthy deliberation, it was decided that Lynn would be the night's second finalist.

And then it was on to the edge-of-your-seat finale. Where LDM London Executive Producer Suzanne Azzopardi took center stage to explain the rules: each finalist (with the help of a volunteer) would balance a Fiction Uncovered book on top of their heads (including Sarah Moss’ Night Waking, Nimrod’s Shadow by Chris Paling and The English German Girl by former LDM co-hort Jake Wallis Simons.) As they walked across the stage, each successful turn would see another book added until, in a kind of book balancing Jenga, the winner would be decided.

McGregor confidently glided across the stage, followed closely by Lynn who unpinned her hair in order to aid the balancing act. The stakes were raised as McGregor successfully transported two books across the stage, matched by Lynn book for book. As the audience held their breath in anticipation, our finalists took it in turns to walk across stage, helped by some willing volunteers and adjudicated by linesman and LDM producer Bruno Vincent. Finally, it was McGregor who was victorious in his uncanny ability to balance a staggering five books on his head, as Lynn's books slipped from her bonce to a dramatic gasp from the audience. McGregor was declared winner of the Literary Death Match London medal and securing literary immortality to go with it. 

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