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SF, Ep. 50

October 18, 2013 — A year in the make, Literary Death Match returned to its spiritual home for a night to remember, as we teamed with Litquake for our magical 50th episode in San Francisco, that saw Jane Smiley narrowly out-guess co-finalist Sonya Renee Taylor 10-8 in a hair-raisingly close Pulitzer Prize Pictionary finale to win Smiley the LDM SF, Ep. 50 crown. 

The historic night kicked off in grand fashion, as Pulitzer Prize-winner Jane Smiley (author of A Thousand Acres and Private Life) delivered an elegantly told tale of a man punishing his child with a belt, because his child had fibbed. Next up was the inimitable Sam Barry (author of How to Play the Harmonica: and Other Life Lessons, musician & member of the Rock Bottom Remainders) who followed with equal aplomb, as he had the entire crowd clapping along and singing "If I die and my soul gets lost, it's nobody's fault but mine!" 

The microphone was then handed over to the night's superstar trio of judges: Andrew Sean Greer, award-winning author of The Impossible Lives of Greta WellsBeth Lisick, author of Yokohama Threeway and Other Small Shames and Helping Me Help Myself; and Brian Boitano, author, and 1988 Olympic figure skating Gold medalist. The three lauded Smiley's brilliant prose and her fantastically sparkly dress, and they couldn't contain their glee over Barry's crowd-stirring performance and his suitcase full of harmonicas. But after a painful deliberation, they decided Smiley's selfless support (she was singing along with the crowd to Barry) was the difference and advanced her to be the first finalist of the night. 

After a quick, boozy intermission, Round 2 kicked off with the inimitable Seth Harwood (author of Jack Wakes Up and In Broad Daylight) who told the story in a Russian accent about being on the hunt for a killer. Finally, it was performance poet Sonya Renee Taylor (activist and founder of The Body Is Not an Apology) who finished the night in stirring fashion, first with a call-and-response opener, followed by a beautiful poem about playing tag, and finishing with a pitch-perfect poem (The Body is Not an Apology) that had the crowd in throes. 

Again the judges were in the spotlight, with the three praising Harwood's tracksuit and his bewildering wildness, and applauding Taylor's just-about-everything, before once again huddling to make the night's second impossible decision, finally announcing that Taylor would be the night's second finalist. 

Then LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga took center stage to announce the night's finale: Pulitzer Prize Pictionary, in which audience members took turns drawing Pulitzer Prize-winning novels, while the finalists guessed. With the 8-5 in Taylor's favor it all came down to the final book, and while the crowd roared guesses at the stage, it was Smiley who first deciphered the final drawing, shouting out "The Color Purple?" to win her five points, a 10-8 victory, the Literary Death Match SF, Ep. 50 medal, and literary immortality to go with it! 

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