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London, Ep. 40

May 15, 2014 — On a perfectly-weathered Thursday, Literary Death Match headed east to the gorgeous environs of The Proud Archivist for a pitch-perfect night presented by Social Book Week that ended when Heather O'Neill narrowly toppled Lloyd Shepherd in a Literary Pictionary finale in sudden death to win O'Neill the LDM London, Ep. 40 crown. 

But before the Sharpie's were unsheathed for the finale, the night kicked off with Lloyd Shepherd, author of The Poisoned IslandThe English Monster and Savage Magic (August 2014), reading what he described as a laughs-free piece about insanity being realized. Stunning. Next up was Elizabeth Aaron, illustrator, writer, author of Low Expectations, who read publicly for the first time ever (!), and delivered a wonderful tale about the deranged love child of Kirosawa's unconscious. 

The mic was then passed to the trio of all-star judges: Aleks Krotoski, academicjournalist, author of Untangling the Web: What the Internet is Doing to You, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s award-winning science series The Digital HumanGemma Whelan, actress, comedian, dancer (she's Yara Greyjoy from Game of Thrones); and Gerry Howell, comedian, actor and writer. The praise for Shepherd and Aaron was mighty, and the pith as was the humor in their commentary, but after a huddle the judges decided it would be Shepherd who would advance as the night's first finalist. 

Then, following a boozy intermission, Round 2 kicked off with Heather O'Neill, Canadian novelist, poet, short story writer, screenwriter and journalist, and author of the multi-award-winning Lullabies for Little Criminals who reeled off a story about a child writing a story about a gypsy. But when the child gets distracted and stops writing, the gypsy's experience goes on. Finally, it was Mark Watson, comedian, author The Knot and Eleven, who read a story from his book Hotel Alpha about a disgruntled best friend who didn't make the cut as best man. 

Again the judges were center-stage, and again they were brilliant with wisecracks and adoration for both authors, before finally deciding it would be O'Neill who would advance as the night's second finalist. 

Then LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga and LDM Executive Producer Suzanne Azzopardi took center stage for the Literary Pictionary finale, in which audience members came on stage to draw the titles of classic books. After a neck-and-neck battle, it was O'Neill who shouted out the final answer — "Catch-22!" — to win the LDM London, Ep. 40 medal, winning literary immortality to go with it. 

Follow us on Twitter: @litdeathmatch

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