1. Sascha Frere-Jones reads from his iPad as judges Sean Kelly, Danny Abelson and Rick Meyerowitz look on. 2. Reader Angela Lovell emphasizes her point.
In the world of literature, which seems under siege by threats of The Death of Press and rumors that the kids don’t read no more, there are a plethora of organizations who are working to make the art of language sexy again. Literary Death Match creator Todd Zuniga is one of these valiant soldiers. “We’re here to make out with people who are smarter than us,” he joked at the event’s 40th NYC “episode” on Thursday night, and the crowd at Drom was inclined to agree.
Literary Death Match is currently on tour and goes a little something like this: four readers face off to a panel of three or four jury members, who elect two finalists to battle it out in an often-whimsical final round. This recent NYC pit stop featured Sasha Frere-Jones of The New Yorker fame, Mouseschawitz and Moth StorySlam aficionado Angela Lovell, Jillian Lauren, the author of Some Girls: My Life in A Harem, and Teddy Wayne, the author of Kapitoil. The illustrious jury consisted of Sean Kelly (editor of the National Lampoon from 1971-1978, “when it was funny.”), Danny Abelson (also a former National Lampoon editor), Rick Meyerowitz (co-creator of the famous “NewYorkistan” New Yorker cover) and Jena Friedman (a writer for the Late Show with David Letterman).
The readings were mostly on the comedic side. Sascha Frere-Jones self-deprecatingly read a list of things he had shoplifted and an ongoing personal document of titles he has yet to utilize, including “Why I Would Survive a Car Crash and You Wouldn’t,” and a pre-father rant, “Why Your Toddler is a Jerk.” Angela Lovell read a raunchy piece based on her stint at Disney World, while Teddy Wayne read a hilarious satirical work in which a bitter ex hacks a local paper to humiliate his former girlfriend. Jillian Lauren was the lone, more somber exception– her selection from her recent novel Pretty was a monumentally beautiful descripton of a young girl finding Jesus. While the serious note knocked her out at the first round, it was one of the true highlights of the evening.
1. Juror Danny Abelson describes Lovell’s performance. 2. Reader Teddy Wayne stoically providing laughs.
Teddy Wayne ultimately came out victorious in a rapid-fire final round in which he and Lovell faced off to guess the names of Pulitzer Prize winners that had been scrambled in Cyrillic– his is a name you should know beyond his (well-deserved) win. Look out for the arrival of Literary Death Match in your town and be sure to support Todd Zuniga in all of his endevors– for all of us nerdy lit fans out there, it is good to be hip for a change.
1. Reader Jillian Lauren, looking stunning as she reads.
–Sarah Lerner is a freelance event coordinator for the L Magazine. She contributes art and film reviews to Time Out New York.