Literary Death Match featuring Molly Ringwald, Wednesday

Molly Ringwald will be one of the Literary Death Match judges Wednesday.
(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

I want to tell you a secret: I might know who is going to win Literary Death Match on Wednesday night. That’s because Antoine Wilson told me he wants to bribe Molly Ringwald to vote for him, and then I saw them talking.

OK, I introduced them.

It was after the PEN Center USA’s awards dinner last month; Ringwald and her husband, Panio Gianopoulos, were headed out the door. Wilson said he wanted to meet Ringwald, because she’d be judging him in the upcoming Literary Death Match. Conversation ensued.

Admittedly, Wilson dropped the bribe idea right away. Instead, there was some discussion of writing habits. And of children. And of books -- Ringwald’s is “When it Happens to You”; Wilson’s is “Panorama City.”


Literary Death Match is the not-overly-serious reading series that’s delivered with a heavy share of comedy. It’s the kind of place where an author could stand on stage and offer a bribe in front of the whole audience if they liked. For all I know, this has been done -- host Todd Zuniga has held hundreds of Literary Death Matches. In addition to Los Angeles, the series has been held in San Francisco, New York, London, Oslo, Tulsa, Edinburgh, Dublin, Toronto, Miami ... the list goes on.

I was a judge once. No bribes to be had, but Literary Death Match generously gave me drink tickets for beer.

On Wednesday, four readers will compete. That’s Wilson, Adam Novy (“The Avian Gospels”), Tracy McMillan (“Why You’re Not Married ... Yet”) and Shawna Kenney, (“I Was a Teenage Dominatrix” -- not a novel, a memoir).

The readers will be evaluated by a three-judge panel. That’s Ringwald, UCB’s Matt Walsh and comedian Maria Bamford. They select the finalists.

Even if piles of cash were being exchanged, the judges wouldn’t be able to determine the winner of Wednesday’s Literary Death Match. That’s because the two finalists go up against each other in a contest that’s part literary, part bonkers: throwing cupcakes, doing something blindfolded, facing off with Silly String.

Did I mention there’s beer? It’s at Busby’s East, which has a full bar.



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