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The Berkshires, Ep. 1

September 20, 2013 — In the stable that Edith Wharton built, Literary Death Match made its mirth-fueled Berkshires debut at The Mount. The glorious, magic-filled evening finished in grand fashion, as Team Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz outdueled Team Brando Skyhorse by a centimeter in the Pin the Wharton on the Mount finale, winning Aptowicz the LDM The Berkshires, Ep. 1 crown. 

But before the finale was even a thought, the night began with journalist/commentator/author Steve Almond (God Bless AmericaRock and Roll Will Save Your Life) who titillated by reading a handful of hate mail, followed by a short tale. Next up was Brando Skyhorse (author of The Madonnas of Echo Park, winner of the 2011 PEN/Hemingway Award) who enraptured with the true tale of his mother becoming a phone-sex operator. 

The mic was then passed to the trio of judges: Jim Shepard, award-winning author of six novels (Project X), and four story collections; Ophira Eisenberg, comedian, actress, author (Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Mongamy); and Jason Diamond, writer, lit editor , and founder of Vol. 1 Brooklyn. The threesome lauded Almond's hilarity and his choice of sweaters, while Eisenberg said Skyhorse's clothing choices made him trustworthy enough to watch a plant..until she heard him read.  

The judges then huddled away from the mic, and after a difficult deliberation, they decided it was Skyhorse who would advance as the night's first finalist. 

Then, after a booze-skewed intermission, Round 2 was led off by Rachel Shukert, author of memoirs Everything is Going to be Great and Have You No Shame? who read a wildly entertaining short story that she described as "a mash-up of Three Men and a Baby and Toni Morrison's novel Beloved." Finally, it was Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz, author of five books of poetry including Dear Future Boyfriend and Hot Teen Slut), who blew the doors of the stable off with a pair of poems: the first about America's fattest president, William Howard Taft, and "crack squirrels" infesting Central Park. 

Again the judges were center stage, praising the see-through heels of Shukert's awesome footwear, while they were staggered by Aptowicz's boundless energy. After a second impossible decision had to be made, the judges broke the huddle to announce that Aptowicz would be the night's second finalist.

Then up stepped LDM creator Adrian Todd Zunigawho announced that the finale would be Pin the Wharton on the Mount, in which Skyhore and Aptowicz were each paired with two volunteers, and handed images of Wharton through the years, with the tall task of pinning their Whartons nearest to The Mount's front door on a poster. With everything to play for and Aptowicz winning by only a centimeter, Skyhorse's final try was near, but not near enough, and Aptowicz was medaled as the first-ever LDM champion in The Berkshires, winning literary immortality to go along with it. 

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