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London, Ep. 46

March 18, 2015 — On the cusp of springtime, LDM teamed with The Borough Press to put a bunny-hop in your wintry step at The Phoenix on Cavendish Square, and what a night it was, as Andrea Bennett outlasted Rosie Garland in a back-and-forth battle of Literarary Spelling Bee II to win LDM by a final score of 30-28. 

But before complicated author names were even a thought, the night kicked off with the Matthew Plampin, who read a brilliant dinner party scene from his sparkling art history-based novel Will and Tom. Next up it was Rosie Garland, performer, chanteuse, poet and writer of The Palace of Curiosities, who read a pitch-perfectly-performed excerpt from Vixen, her latest must-read novel.

Then the spotlight shone bright on the trio of all-star judges: Lionel Shriver, author We Need to Talk About Kevin, Big Brother and So Much For ThatAndrew Murray, QI literary elf, No Such Thing as a Fish panelist, Austentatious performer; and Alex Edelman, comedian, winner of this year's Foster's Comedy Award for Best Newcomer, and just finished a run of sold-out shows at Soho Theater. The three rifled off a load of thoughtful and hilarious quips, praising Plampin's dinner party abilities, and loving Garland's prose and the number of zippers on her jeans, with Murray taking an amazing turn, relating both readings to Jane Austen. Then the trio made the night's first impossible decision, declaring Bennett as the winner of Round 1. 

After a boozy intermission, Round 2 kicked off with Andrea Bennett, doing her first public reading ever, who read a stunning excerpt from Galina Petrovna's Three-Legged Dog Storyabout rescuing a dog in 1930's Russia. Finally it was Will Hodgkinson, rock & pop critic (The Times, Mojo), TV presenter, who read from his blazingly smart and funny memoir The House is Full of Yogis

Again the judges were center stage, all in disbelief that Bennett's reading was her first-ever, and Edelman hilariously poking fun at Hodgkinson for naming the main character after himself (acting as if it was a novel, not a memoir), with Shriver relating Hodgkinson to Caitlin Moran's excellent How to Build a Girl. Again the judges were faced with an impossible decision, and announced it would be Bennett who would advance to the finals. 

Then up stepped LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga & LDM Exec Producer Suzanne Azzopardi, who announced the night's finale: Literary Spelling Bee II in which Garland and Bennett were tasked with spelling more and more complicated author names. With Bennett behind the 8-ball, she used her "Phone a Friend" and up stepped "Pati" (from Poland) who nailed a Polish spelling to zip Bennett into the lead. And with all to play for, Garland was just two letters off of one of Kenyan author Binyavinga Wainaina's last name, which won Bennett the LDM London, Ep. 46 championship, and literary immortality to go with it. 


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