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London, Ep. 30

October 23, 2012 — In the ultra-stylish/squished confines of Islington's all-new House of Wolf, London's literary masses squeezed in for a sold-out night of literary wonderment that finished with Cassie Gonzales outdueling Steve Aylett in a hotly-contested Cyrillic-Off by a score of 9-7 that won Gonzales the LDM London, Ep. 30 crown. 

But before the finale was even a thought, the night opened with award-magnet poem machine Dean Atta (winner, 2011 BEFFTA Award for Best Spoken Word Artist/Poet), who confessed he hadn’t performed before owing to nerves and the fact that LDM usually clashes with his therapy. He blew the audience away, concluding with a moving warning to purveyors of rap with a poem called "I Am Nobody's Nigger." Next up was sci-fi supremo Steve Aylett (author of LINT and The Complete Accomplice) with a comical meditation on how the moon landings would have been better if Neil Armstrong had had a sense of humour.

Then hosts Adrian Todd Zuniga and Suzanne Azzopardi handed over the mic to the trio of crack judges: whizzbang journo Alex Clark on literary merit, fully certified Funny Woman Viv Groskop on performance, and Voice of Darth Maul (Yes-That’s-Right-I’m-Not-Kidding) Peter Serafinowicz (author of A Billion Jokes, Vol. 1), on Intangibles.

The judges praised Atta's incantatory rhythms, and Serafinowicz gave a gnomic prognostication which can be quoted directly: ‘I love Dean Atta / With his poetic patter / As smooth as Edinborough chip shop batter / I wish I was thin or fatter / Or what does it matter?’ Steve Aylett was praised for his inventiveness, dubbed hilarious and fascinating, and compared with Shane MacGowan. The judges huddled, and faced with an excruciating decision, they opted to put Mr. Aylett through.

Then came Round 2, led off by novelist and reviewer Alex Preston (author of The Revelations and This Bleeding City) who read a thoughtful piece about benighted builders and buildings, but over-ran and was shot twice (which might seem harsh, but it was only with a foam pellet). Cassie Gonzales, fresh out of Tucson, followed, with a bewitching short story taken from a longer piece, a strange tale of children playing in the woods that included, at one perfect moment, a turkey. 

The judges praised Preston’s dark descriptive prose and his use of the word ‘reticulated’, and compared him to J.G. Ballard. Then they turned to Gonzales, admiring the appearance not only of nunchuks, but a sinister turkey which might have graced the pages of a Donna Tartt novel, if, that is, a turkey can be said to be capable of grace in the first place, a matter which was left to be discussed another time. They also liked her dress, if you care to know about that sort of thing. The judges huddled once more, and again it was an impossible decision, but after a long deliberation, it was Gonzales was sent through to the finale. 

Then came the Aylett v. Gonzales finale, in which "cyrillicized" versions of Booker Award-winning authors were on display, with each finalist (and a crowd-picked teammate) tasked with shouting out the author's name. Aylett's early bafflement had Gonzales out to a quick 3-0 lead, but Team Aylett stormed back and with the score 8-6, Gonzales delivered the "Margaret Atwood dagger," winning her not only the Literary Death Match medal, but literary immortality to go with it.

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