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London, Ep. 49

May 18, 2015 — For our biggest-ever London show, we took over the Spiegeltent at London Wonderground on the South Bank for an electric night — sponsored by Picador — that finished with Nat Luurtsema narrowly outdueling Amber Tamblyn in a sudden-death One Star Wonder finale to win Luurtsema the LDM London, Ep. 49 crown. 

But well before the finale was even a consideration, the brilliant night began with Luurtsema (actor, author of Cuckoo in the Nest and BAFTA Film Award nominee for Island Queen) opening with a pitch-perfect passage from her all-new young adult novel. Next up was Dan Tyte, (author of Half Plus Sevenwho dazzled with a tale about twins at Christmas. 

Then the mic was handed over to the night's quartet of all-star judges: Molly McGrann, literary critic, poet, novelist and author of The Ladies of the HouseCariad Lloyd, actor, Edinburgh Fringe Newcomer award nominee, member of AustentatiousMarcel Lucont, Fringe World Award-winning comedian and French poet extraordinaire; and David Cross, comedian, actor (Arrested Development; Mr. Show), and author of I Drink for a Reason. Lloyd lauded Luurtsema for being "like a young Michaela Strachan" while Cross praised her for interjecting Masonic code into her tale, and graded her "a clementine." McGrann applauded Tyte's ability to read a scene rife with dialogue, and Lucont admitted he loved that Tyte read from his novel saying, "Ebooks are the death of culture. I want a book to turn me on, not the other way around." 

The judges huddled and after a difficult deliberation, it was announced that Luurtsema would advance as the night's first finalist. 

Then came an epic Round 2, kicked off by Joe Dunthorne, author of Submarine and the award-winning Wild Abandon, reading a mesmerizing new short story about a man on drugs falling in love with a dog. Finally it was Amber Tamblyn, poet, author of Dark Sparkler and actress (House; Joan of Arcadia), who ripped off three staggering poems, one of which was a casting call for an untitled actress with the heart-ripping final line: "A non-speaking part." 

The mic again was handed to the judges, with Lucont cheering Dunthorne for his story's accuracy: "It seemed like every Friday night in rural britain," and Cross saying the story felt like a therapy session in his head, and he said he resented the implication you need to take drugs to love a dog. About Tamblyn, McGrann was reminded of the Jonathan Swift poem Celia, with Lloyd calling it an expert performance and considered Tamblyn a young Sheryl Crowe. 

Again, the judges huddled, and again faced with an impossible choice, the threesome (Cross recused himself, and went to the bathroom) decided it would be Tamblyn who would advance to the finals. 

Then up stepped LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga who announced the night's finale: One Star Wonder — a game in which Zuniga read off 1-star Amazon book reviews written about classic books. The two finalists (Luurtsema and Tamblyn), were teamed with pairs of volunteers from the crowd, and after a monster 24-point comeback by Team Tamblyn, it was Team Luurtsema who chimed in with the sudden death answer to win Luurtsema the LDM London, Ep. 49 crown, and literary immortality to go with it.