April 25, 2012 — In a whizbang, book-knockdown affair, the Literary Death Match's triumphant return to the Elbo Room — presented by Mission at 10th Magazine — set the stage aflame with literary and comedic mastermindery, as Joe Quirk out-bowled co-finalist Carolyn Cooke by a narrower-than-it-seems score of 15-9 to win the LDM SF, Ep. 44 crown!
But well before the book pins were in place, the night kicked off with short-storyist Kate Milliken (author of If I'd Known You Were Coming, a finalist for the OV Books Short Story Prize) reeled off a litany of cocktails and situations that had the audience entranced, followed by Quirk (author of Exult and It's Not You, It's Biology) who read a heart-racing excerpt from his novel The Ultimate Rush.
The mic was then turned over to our trio of all-star judges, including the fantastic Mimi Lok (executive director/editor of the McSweeney’s Voice of Witness series), Killing My Lobster's Jon Wolanske (who starred in Gmail Tap's April Fool's commercial), and the SF Examiner's brilliant political columnist Melissa Griffin. Lok loved Milliken's story, but couldn't decide if the sweat references were a plus or a minus. While Wolanske was impressed with Joe Quirk's description of Muni farting/belching black smoke.
A difficult deliberation awaited, and after a verbal tussle, it was Quirk who was advanced to the finals.
After a booze-lit intermission, Round 2 kicked off with Alia Volz introducing LitUp Writers producer and Pushcart Prize-nominee Graham Gremore (and star of solo show "Private Parts") leading things off, an incredibly smart, short tale focused on gay sex, followed by the inimitable Carolyn Cooke (author of The Bostons, a PEN/Bingham Award for fiction, and Daughters of the Revolution, a Top Ten Books of 2011 by the SF Chronicle) who read about a husband who loses his legs in an accident.
The mic was again handed to the judges, with Griffin stealing the spotlight while talking about Gremore's evocative description of childhood and how we all had friends like the little girl who smelled faintly of cat urine.
Another deliberation, another impossible choice, but it was Cooke who was advanced on as the night's second finalist.
Then LDM creator Todd Zuniga took center stage with past LDM Matt Herlihy as his assistant. While Herlihy set up books as bowling pins, Zuniga awarded each finalist a volunteer, and handed over three "bowling balls": a packet of Japanese cookies, a shin bowl, and a can of Campbell's tomato soup. After Cooke gutter-balled her cookies on consecutive tries, Quirk shot out to an immediate lead. Then it was the volunteers chance to shine, each launching shin bowls for literary glory. For the final frame, Cooke gutter-balled her tomato soup can, and in need of a strike, she came up with only a smattering of "pins" which meant Quirk was crowned champion, and literary immortality was all his.