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London, Ep. 39

May 13, 2014 — On a cool night in central London, Literary Death Match heated up Soho House by teaming with Unbound (the crowdfunded publishers) to bring a cavalcade of brilliance that finished with Salena Godden outdueling co-finalist Zoe Pilger in a One Star Wonder finale by a final score of 39.5 to 24 to win Godden the LDM London, Ep. 39 crown. 

But well before the finale was even a thought, the wonder-struck night kicked off with Zoe Pilger, writer and art critic (The Independent), who read from her new novel Eat My Heart Out — a chapter that included going down on a man in heartaching fashion with verbal twists galore ("Semen like warm rain."). Next it was the dazzling George Chopping, poet, raconteur, and Unbound author of Smoking with Crohn's, who read a trio of poems that ranged from performing at the Cornbury festival to a psychiatrist's assessment of a fruit.

The mic was then handed to the trio of all-star judges: John Mitchinson, pigkeeper, research-king of QI & co-founder of Unbound; Patrick Grant, fashion designer, creative director of bespoke tailors Norton & Sons of Savile Row, presenter of The Great British Sewing Bee; and Katy Brand, Comedian, actor, soon-be-Unbound-published author with Brenda Monk is Funny. The trio lauded Pilger's every sentence, with Grant saying her chapter sounded like a sordid weather report and Brand admitting, "That was the bleakest I love you I've ever heard." About Chopping, Mitchinson praised the alliteration and the wondrous turns of phrase. The trio then huddled and made the night's first impossible decision, declaring Pilger would advance as the night's first finalist. 

Then the night zipped into Round 2, where Salena Godden (poet, performer, muse, real-life cartoon, soon-to-be-Unbound author of Springfield Road) read about '70s nostalgia, and being very young and fancying a boy at school — a 7-year-old with a six pack. Finally it was Richard Bray, writer, sometimes winemaker, Unbound author of Salt and Old Vines, who told the tale of found body, and the hunt for a goodbye note. 

The judges were again center stage, with praise and hurrahs galore for Godden's sharp eloquence and elegance, and Bray's brilliance and carefully considered prose. Again, the judges huddled, and again an impossible decision was made: Godden was announced as the night's second finalist. 

Then up stepped LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga and London exec producer Suzanne Azzopardi to announce the night's finale: One Star Wonders, in which they read off 1-star Amazon book reviews written about classic books. The finalists, teamed with volunteers from the crowd, traded points, and with everything to play for on the final question, it was Team Godden who slapped the bell first, nailing the final answer, winning her the LDM London, Ep. 39 medal and literary immortality to go with it.

Follow us on Twitter: @litdeathmatch

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