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Toronto, Ep. 2

June 9, 2011 — The Literary Death Match's triumphant return to the 416 was a riotous success, with Holly Luhning out-celebrating Margaret Atwood (via cupcake tossing) and undoing co-finalist Nathaniel G. Moore's championship hopes, winning Luhning the coveted LDM crown. 


Iain Reid brings the hilarity at LDM Toronto. CLICK TO SEE MORE PICTURES.

But well before the first dessert was launched at Gladstone Hotel, the night began with Moore (author of Wrong Bar) leading off by reading what he said was the script of Jennifer's Body, "with the names changed." It was a perfectly-performed creepy delight that had the packed house gloriously applauding when he was done. Next up was Brian Francis (The Secret Fruit of Peter Paddington), who read from his upcoming novel — for the first time ever! — Natural Order. His excerpt about a 70-year-old mother mourning the loss of her gay son by attending her first-ever Pride parade. 

The mic was then handed over to the trio of all-star arbiters: enemy of boredom Stephen Marche (author of How Shakespeare Changed Everything), literary do-it-all Bianca Spence, and journo-poet-mastermind NatalieZed! Spence praised the daintiness of Moore's reading (since he was reading as a female character), while Marche loved that Francis wrote about something most people can't: old people. NatalieZed recognized, and loved, that Francis had created a third sexual way of speaking about the world — through the nipple. Then the judges huddled, with an impossible decision before them. After much hemming and hawing, they decided to move Moore on as the night's first finalist. 

After a boozy intermission, Round 2 commenced with LDM TO producer Julie Wilson (The Book Madam) introducing the readers: Saskatchewan Lieutenant Governor’s Arts Award-winner Holly Luhning (author of Quiver), comic memoirist Iain Reid (author of One Bird's Choice). Reid led off with a hysterical piece about his friend — Sheldon — finally watching Reid's book trailer, and Reid clicking through YouTube's suggested videos, then discovering his 1,500 hits paled against "bird has sex with man's head" (a comparative zillion hits) while eating Eggo waffles. Up next was Luhning, who was quietly dazzling, reading a bloody excerpt from Quiver that had the audience on the edge of their collective, vampire-loving seats. 

Again the mic was handed to the judges, who discussed, in no particular order: Hungarian women. Reid's sewing machine shuffle. Luhning's sparkliness. Something about penetration. And in the end, after another tough choice, they went with Luhning as the night's second finalist. 

Then came the madcap finale, as LDM creator Todd Zuniga took center stage, introducing the first-ever LDM appearance of the glorious Margaret Atwood — in black-and-white poster form. A volunteer held the Atwood poster while Moore and Luhning took turns launching delicious Sweet Bliss cupcakes at it (a loving celebration of Atwood's work!), with the goal of having one's icing splatter nearest to Atwood's mouth. In the end, after three dramatic throws a piece, it was Luhning — thanking her father for teaching her to play softball as a youth — who was closest, winning her the Literary Death Match title, and literary immortality along with it!

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