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#LitBeat: Literary Death Match LA

by Melissa Chadburn

“Buy books so the world will be a better place and everyone can be smart and rich and have sex in more comfortable ways,” Todd Zuniga. This is one of the joys of Literary Death Match. Zuniga has found a way to expose people to literary journals, and taken something that we love to do as a solitary act into an arena of mayhem.

Literary Death Match brings together four authors to read before a panel of three all-star judges. After each pair of readers, the judges take turns spouting hilarious, off-the-wall commentary — in the categories of literary merit, performance and intangibles —then select their favorite to advance to the finals. The two finalists compete in the LDM finale, which mixes in the show’s literary sensibility for an absurd and comical climax to determine who takes home LDM gold.

There was an extra twist in the Los Angeles April 20th LDM; it was the ‘Made for TV version’ meaning it was cut down in length by half. Each author only read for 3 ½ minutes, and each was acting as battle champion for a lit mag or journal.

In a strange strange coincidence, the first round featured two separate cocaine themed pieces. Tom Bissel, author of Magic Hours and champion for ZYZZYVA, went head-to-head with Rare Bird Lit’s Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight.

Bissell read first and his piece included the actual scientific breakdown of an illegal substance; 90% laxative 9% amphetamine, and1% cocaine.

Next up, Stahl proceeded to storm through a piece about inserting a cocaine straw into some woman’s “weirdly hot baby smooth ass cheeks.”

The judges, Scott Gimple, Oriana Small (AKA Ashley Blue), and Richard Lange, were impressed. Providing her commentary on Bissell’s piece, Small stated that she really felt the part about the laxatives,and that she wanted to “run into the bathroom right then and there.” Lange stated that if Stahl wrote War and Peace he would’ve read it but that he never wanted to have sex again. They declared Stahl the night’s first finalist.

Round 2 pitted novelist Krys Lee, for Granta, against Lauren Groff, author of Arcadia; [Ed. Note: A Millions staff pick!], representing Slake.

Lee read from Drifting House, about a mother going to work on her child with a saw. “The sound of her breath an underwater sound.” And Groff read about a coxswain doing a mediocre-to-insulting job of deflowering a mild mannered behemoth named Beth. “Sixty beats per minute thrusts.”

When the judges evaluated the second round they had a lot to say. Lee impressed Small with her “spa voice” which Small said was reminiscent, somehow, of soothing Eucalyptus. Groff gave Lange a renewed hope of eventually having sex again. Ultimately the judges decided that Lee would be the night’s second finalist.

The finale involved three volunteers from the crowd to aid the proceedings: two as helpers to the finalists, one to display the names of famous authors written in Cyrillic. The finalists shouted out their best guesses. It was Lee who clinched the victory and won the Literary Death Match crown. When asked how she felt to be crowned the winner Lee stated, “I intended to lose. This is a nice surprise.”

[Photo via Literary Death Match]

Posted at 2:11pm.

millionsmillions:

#LitBeat: Literary Death Match LA
by Melissa Chadburn
“Buy books so the world will be a better place and everyone can be smart and rich and have sex in more comfortable ways,” Todd Zuniga. This is one of the joys of Literary Death Match. Zuniga has found a way to expose people to literary journals, and taken something that we love to do as a solitary act into an arena of mayhem.
Literary Death Match brings together four authors to read before a panel of three all-star judges. After each pair of readers, the judges take turns spouting hilarious, off-the-wall commentary — in the categories of literary merit, performance and intangibles —then select their favorite to advance to the finals. The two finalists compete in the LDM finale, which mixes in the show’s literary sensibility for an absurd and comical climax to determine who takes home LDM gold.
There was an extra twist in the Los Angeles April 20th LDM; it was the ‘Made for TV version’ meaning it was cut down in length by half. Each author only read for 3 ½ minutes, and each was acting as battle champion for a lit mag or journal.
In a strange strange coincidence, the first round featured two separate cocaine themed pieces. Tom Bissel, author of Magic Hours and champion for ZYZZYVA, went head-to-head with Rare Bird Lit’s Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight.
Bissell read first and his piece included the actual scientific breakdown of an illegal substance; 90% laxative 9% amphetamine, and1% cocaine.
Next up, Stahl proceeded to storm through a piece about inserting a cocaine straw into some woman’s “weirdly hot baby smooth ass cheeks.”
The judges, Scott Gimple, Oriana Small (AKA Ashley Blue), and Richard Lange, were impressed. Providing her commentary on Bissell’s piece, Small stated that she really felt the part about the laxatives,and that she wanted to “run into the bathroom right then and there.” Lange stated that if Stahl wrote War and Peace he would’ve read it but that he never wanted to have sex again. They declared Stahl the night’s first finalist.
Round 2 pitted novelist Krys Lee, for Granta, against Lauren Groff, author of Arcadia; [Ed. Note: A Millions staff pick!], representing Slake.
Lee read from Drifting House, about a mother going to work on her child with a saw. “The sound of her breath an underwater sound.” And Groff read about a coxswain doing a mediocre-to-insulting job of deflowering a mild mannered behemoth named Beth. “Sixty beats per minute thrusts.”
When the judges evaluated the second round they had a lot to say. Lee impressed Small with her “spa voice” which Small said was reminiscent, somehow, of soothing Eucalyptus. Groff gave Lange a renewed hope of eventually having sex again. Ultimately the judges decided that Lee would be the night’s second finalist.
The finale involved three volunteers from the crowd to aid the proceedings: two as helpers to the finalists, one to display the names of famous authors written in Cyrillic. The finalists shouted out their best guesses. It was Lee who clinched the victory and won the Literary Death Match crown. When asked how she felt to be crowned the winner Lee stated, “I intended to lose. This is a nice surprise.”
[Photo via Literary Death Match]

A cool free thing we’ll be doing this Saturday, small presses, indie lit, DIY greatness at USC 11-4 come on over!

Posted at 1:49am and tagged with: indie, DIY, small press, USC, magazines,.

A cool free thing we’ll be doing this Saturday, small presses, indie lit, DIY greatness at USC 11-4 come on over!
Happy World Poetry Day! For the occasion we will share with you a treat— not available in the U.S. The talented and slightly injured SLAKE contributor Luke Davies reading from Interferon Psalms.

“I needed to choose to weep or watch football so I chose football because my instinct was to stay blank until further notice.”

Posted at 9:08pm and tagged with: Luke Davies, Slake, poetry, Candy, Dirty, The Last Bookstore, The Last Bookstore,.

Yesterday surfer Kelly Slater won his record 11th world title, one year to the day that his great rival Andy Irons died in a Dallas hotel room. In Slake No. 2, Justin Warfield wrote about surfing’s polar opposites. Warfield said the differences between the seemingly robotic Slater and the self-destructive Irons gave the sport its great mano-a-mano narrative and cast both as real people rather than mere athletic archetypes.

On the day that Irons died, just hours before I got the text that broke the news, I was talking about the tour with a friend who works at my local surf shop. As he sat behind the counter I asked him if it was another surfless layover day in Puerto Rico. Yes, he said. Knowing that the world title race was coming down to the next heat when the contest resumed, I leaned in and told my friend in hushed tones that despite having always been an Irons fan, I wanted Slater to go out on top, in a manner befitting his contributions to the sport.

“Totally!” he replied. “We all do!”

In the end, one of Irons’s final gifts was humanizing Slater for me, allowing me to see what had probably always been there, obscured by all the trophies.

Tears streamed down Slater’s face as he walked to the podium in Puerto Rico to collect his trophy and his tenth word title. “If it wasn’t for Andy, there is no way I’d be here in this position right now,” said the shaken champ. He dedicated his win and the title to Irons. Even up to the end, Irons was pushing Slater further than he’d ever gone before.

Posted at 10:59am and tagged with: surfing, Slake No. 2, Kelly Slater, Andy Irons, Justin Warfield,.

C. R. Stecyk III does his best Ingrid Allen impersonation.

Posted at 1:00pm.