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SF, Ep. 19

July 8, 2009—Literary Death Match SF, Ep. 19 (which doubled as the official west coast launch of Opium8: The Infinity Issue) at Elbo Room was a clash to remember, as K.M. Soehnlein narrowly out-infinity-raced co-finalist Katharine Noel in a wild march towards the Literary Death Match championship.

Hosted by Opium’s Todd Zuniga, and Stanford Social Innovation Review’s Alana Conner, the night kicked off with a first round for the ages, as Jim Nelson (representing Instant City) read a lusty and concentration-gripping tale. Next was Soehnlein (representing Switchback), who read a carefully penned piece that kept the audience enthralled, before whipping a blonde wig from his pocket and stripping into a “cocktail dress”-style top. After the round, the star-studded cast of judges--Ayelet Waldman (authoress of Bad Mother), playwright Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, and master monologuist Josh Kornbluth--were torn, but after a wild series of barbs, finally settled on Soehnlein as the night’s first finalist.

After a brief intermission, Round 2 started with a bang, as the first-ever two-person reading went down as conjugal couple Eric Puchner (a former LDM champ) and wife Katharine Noel co-read a story from Canteen Magazine, about the difficulties of being wed writers. Next was the effervesce Michelle Richmond who read a story from that her husband supposedly wrote. The judges again reeled off genius inanity before finally making their decision, electing Noel and Puchner as the night’s second finalist.

Soehnlein and Noel race in their "black holes".

The finale, based around Opium8’s infinity theme, was a level of outragreous that even trumped past Literary Death Match efforts. A three-tiered finale, Soehnlein and Noel went head to head, first hopping across the stage in “black holes” (aka black plastic trash bags), then writing any ten numbers from Pi on a board (there’s no record of what they wrote, but any combination of ten numbers worked), then, finally, walking back and forth across the stage while balancing a copy of Infinite Jest on their heads. A close race until the last seconds, Soehnlein took the final prize with his epic ability to balance the book.


See all the photos from this event here!

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