November 11, 2008—The Literary Death Match TV edition (NYC, Ep. 11) stormed the Housing Works Bookstore on 11/11, as the world’s most combative reading series aimed to announce literature as a viable TV medium. Cameras dotted the balcony and floor and crowds filled in the rest, as Tao Lin (representing Muumuu House) shook Soho and won the LDM crown by out-money-grabbing co-finalist Amy Sohn (Brooklyn Writers Space) in the first-ever “Who Gets the Biggest Book Advance?” finale.
The night began with songstress Alison Lefevre kicking off with three songs that hypnotized the tipsy crowd. After, Todd Zuniga brought superagent Erin Hosier to the stage to co-host, leading into a first round of Lin vs. Alex Rose. After winning the coinflip/Dreamlet toss, Lin chose to go first. During the reading of his eight poems, Lin did what he does best: made everyone laugh uncomfortably and feel simultaneously sad, all while setting an LDM record by reading the shortest ever: 4 minutes and 51 seconds. After, Rose boldly took the mike and told a couple of contemporary tales of drug use and lust.
After, judges 12-time judge Ben Greenman (The New Yorker), Lesley Arfin (Dear Diary) and comedian Todd Levin, discussed the pair--Arfin loving Lin’s awkward eye-averting shiftiness--and decided, after a narrow vote, that Tao Lin was the night’s first finalist.
After a brief intermission, the women-laden second round begun. Mishna Wolff (Swink) was the winner of Dreamlet Toss #2, opted to go first as well, then won the crowd with hilarious journal entries from the 80s wherein she believed she was Jim Morrison reincarnated. Next came Sohn, who read an essay about an unfortunate blow-job bestowed on an ungracious suitor. Despite Amy’s nervous assumption that the judges would be mean and choose Wolff, she was declared the winner after careful deliberation (a tie broken by Todd Levin’s insistence that a 12-year-old Mishna should have been reincarnated as a better musician).
Then came the inspired finale, called “Who Gets the Biggest Book Advance?” and involved audience members throwing specially printed dollars over the balcony as the contestants strained to grasp as much as they could in the highest amounts. Round one saw volunteers sift down literary ducats: a $1 bill featuring Shakespeare, a $10 showing off Mark Twain, a $50 boasting Flannery O’Connor. Lin scored $270 in the first round versus Sohn’s $40. For the second round, the contests were blindfolded as $100 Mos Def bills were dropped down. None were caught, and Tao Lin took the crown, literally.