August 16th, 2012 — Before a packed-to-the-gills, standing room only crowd, Literary Death Match — sponsored by Picador — returned to London for a dazzling night of whimsy and shenaniganism at Concrete, as the brilliant night concluded with Tupelo Hassman out-triathloning co-finalist Kerry Hudson by a score of 2-0, winning Hassman the Literary Death Match London crown!
But before the real Olympics went down, the night kicked off with Nicci Cloke (author of Someday Find Me) quietly thrilling the crowd with a sex-infused excerpt from her new novel. She was followed by the Hudson who dealt a graphic description of a Scottish birth, plucked straight from her wonderful debut: Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-cream Float Before He Stole My Ma.
The mic was then turned over to the trio of all-star judges including Granta's online editor and Costa Book Award judge Ted Hodgkinson, writer/musician Joe Stretch (author of Friction and Wildlife), and self-proclaimed "buffoon extraordinaire" Eric Lampaert. About Cloke, Hodgkinson praised her descriptions of decay, reminding him of barely-known Nabokov short story, while Stretch admitted judging performance was tough while only seeing Cloke's rear, but loved how she read with great poise, and didn't bother with silly voices even though there was a big cast of characters. For intangibles, Lampaert admitted he was distracted by the sound of a man washing his hands, then the use of the word "toast" brought him back in a snap.
About Hudson, Hodgkinson was certain Irvine Welsh would be best suited as the baby's midwife, while Stretch said the story had so much to offer, just like mayor Boris johnson. For intangibles, Lampaert said he deliberately didn't listen to it to be fair to Cloke, but couldn't help himself, and proclaimed it "brilliant!"
The judges then huddled and after a painful deliberation, it was Hudson who was advanced to the finals.
After a mini-intermission, Round 2 started with and award-winning poet Harry Man pitch-perfectly performing two poems, one about a half-man/half-machine Called Dave now "ex-Dave" and a second about the incredible story of Earth's evolution via social networks (where earth and gravity are now friends). With the crowd clearly on Man's side, next up was the endlessly poised Hassman (author of Girlchild), who reeled off a quiet and powerful excerpt from her novel about genetics and class opening with a vivid description of a trailer park.
Again the mic went to the judges, with Hodgkinson lauding Man's amazing energy and said listening to man was like "a bored Philip Larkin playing with a Buzz Lightyear." Stretch said Man was a hilarious and great talent, but it was his note of humility that made Stretch love it/him most. Then Lampaert responded by saying, "Are you writing my brain? Area 51! Spaghetti!" And loved the use of a Stegosaurus, which he termed "a good choice of dinosaur." About Hassman, Hodgkinson applauded her amazing sense of place, and said he wanted to pin lines up on his wall later, while Stretch loved her "incredible performance." Lampaert said she won the name competition, and was way impressed by the way she was fearless while following a brilliant Harry Man.
Again, the judges were faced with an impossible decision, but it was Hassman that they advanced as the night's second finalist.
Then LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga, assisted by LDM London executive producer Suzanne Azzopardi, who presented a finale of Olympic proportion — a literary triathlon to be exact. For starters, Hudson and Hassman performed a book shotput that put Hudson in the lead, but Hassman and Randon Audience Member outperformed Team Hudson in a Synchronized Reading event (in which they both were forced to synchronizedly act out a scene from Miranda July's short story "This Person"). Finally, it came down to literary archery, in which they both had two shots to "kiss" 1932 Olympic literary gold medalist Paul Bauer with a lipstick-tipped arrow. In the end, Hassman came closer to the center, winning the Literary Death Match London crown, and literary immortality to go with it!