Deathmatch 2015 Finals Round 7

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Round 1 | Round 2 | Round 3 | Round 4 | Round 5 | Round 6

Deathmatch Moderator

Attachment-1Craig Calhoun was the 2014 Deathmatch Champion. The whole thing really went to his head for a little while there, but he’s totally OK now. Since the Deathmatch, he won the Maisonneuve genre fiction contest, which was also very nice. Sometimes though, when it’s very quiet, he really misses the internet attention. Twitter: @craiglcalhoun





Step One: Read the stories.
Step Two: Vote for your favourite. Repeatedly. You can vote once every hour.
Step Three: Sound off in the comments.
Step Four: Blog, tweet, tell all your friends – help your favourite author win!
Step Five: Repeat until an Ultimate Winner is declared and all others lie bleeding in the dust.

Click here for Deathmatch rules and regulations and for links to all the people and presses that have generously donated awesome prizes for our winner and runners-up. VOTE AND COMMENT BELOW! By commenting you agree to be signed up for Broken Pencil’s newsletter. You can unsubscribe at any time.

My Life as the Reincarnation of Dorothy Parker

by Talita Valle

I was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1993, and I am the reincarnation of
Dorothy Parker. I know because when I was eight years old I dressed up as her
for Carnival. I wore my grandpa’s patent leather shoes, a Snow White dress, and
purple fake eyelashes. It’s not easy, let me tell you – I was born with the ego of
the wittiest woman in New York and the social skills of a pale little girl with the
depressive gene, in post-dictatorship Rio. I was nervous of the ocean, and
ingrained with the impulse to arrange my social life around tables – therefore my
prepubescent years were spent away in after-school excursions to the
McDonald’s at the mall.

Read on...

The Boogeyman

By Nikola Jajic


The Ushers

Two plumes of smoke poured out of his leathery nostrils, as he rubbed his cigarette out on the bar. The man ordered another Glenlivet, and continued to wait. He was always waiting on that asshole, but at least he got to pick the place. It was the nature of their relationship.

Read on...

260 Responses to “Deathmatch 2015 Finals Round 7”

  1. Nikola Jajic says:

    Wow, the voting has been insane. A real nail-biter. I’m not sure if I’ll be back before the end of the round So, I just wanted to say a couple of things.

    Talita, win or lose, it was a pleasure competing against you. Best of luck with everything.

    Also, many thanks to our entertaining moderator, Craig. That perfect photo. Loved it.

    And most of all, thanks to all of the folks that took the time to read our stories. It’s a special feeling knowing there’s people out there that enjoyed your work.

    In a few hours time, I shall lay down my sword (or sticky keyboard, in this case), and bow before this raucous deathmatch crowd, or perhaps I will fall, bested by a worthy foe.

    Regardless, thanks for the memories.

  2. meike says:

    Hum…am I the only one where, after hours away from the computer, I come back to vote, and it will tell me “you have already voted. voting is limited to once an hour”??

  3. sara ( User Karma: 416 ) says:

    The first time I read Talita’s story, I wasn’t the biggest fan, but it really grew on me throughout the contest. I think that it deserves a few readings or at least some sustained thought. I have been voting for Nikola, but I will still be really happy if Talita wins. Two awesome stories in this final!

      • John Popover says:

        This. Your entire country was in the international spotlight, and yet you guys (with homefield advantage) had to lose so badly against Germany. What happened?

        • Beatriz says:

          It was really a nightmare to lose a football match at home! To like to win is a just a good feeling and part of the game of life
          My comments makes the match goes one! And people are voting more! That is the idea of a game! Just play!

    • Whocares says:

      Rest of the World would like to win THE BEST story, but, thanks to you, guys and girls, winner will be clear exaple of second-rate literature. Sorry, Talita.
      Also, thanks to organisers who failed to provide fair voting, allowing participants to vote for compatriots, instead for the best story. Fortunately, this kind of competition don’t last for long, because good writers soon realise that criteria isn’t quality of written story.

      • Talita Valle says:

        Good writing is subjective. I’m sorry you think my story is second-rate but I’ve received enough encouragement and support during this contest from people who liked by story to make it worthwhile even if I don’t win. If you think I could be better – so do I, and the fact that the biggest prize offered by Broken Pencil is called a “makeover” suggests that this is the exact point of winning the Deathmatch.

        “Fair voting” wouldn’t necessarily mean that the best story wins. I’m sure that both Nikola and I are getting the vast majority of our votes from engaging friends and family, not impartial readers who vote for their favourite story. And again, like I said, the “best” story is subjective anyway. I think everyone knows that winning the Deathmatch doesn’t mean your story was necessarily superior to any of the other eight finalists, it means you were more successful in your campaign, for one reason or another. We participants are aware of this when we sign up and it is what we expect.

        • Maria says:

          Tali, you worded my thoughts perfectly, as always. You’re very good with words, actually. Your story is very good, by the way. It may or may not win, either way I was happy I took the time to read it. In my humble opinion it’s much more interesting and engaging than Nikola’s story – I find it stupid to say a story is “better” than another, that’s so meaningless. I get very upset when people are rude to each other, speacially when they’re rude to you since you’re so kind to others. I’m glad to see Nikola is such a nice guy and a good sport, too! I’d be happy to read more from him.

  4. Cagey Beast Queen says:

    You’re such a fucking troll! There were two actually good stories, and they were facing each other in the first round. April lost to Nikola, and Nikola should win this. It’s about writing, right? Did you write a haiku on how no one understands you, yet? Can I hear it?

  5. mr. Invisible says:

    What masochists keep voting for yet more pretentious hipster machismo? This “indie” publication is hell bent on promoting Straight White Male “writers” whose work is nearly indistinguishable from each other.

    • John Popover says:

      Sounds slightly discriminatory, but it also sounds like you just emerged from an echo chamber. At the very least, you continue stir up shit to make this round somewhat interesting. I’m sure people despise you IRL as much as they do in this comments section. You have my slow clap, mr. I.

  6. Craig Calhoun says:

    The weekend is right around the corner! WOOO! YEAHHH! You guys taking the night off? Gonna Flashdance off all this deathmatch stress?

    52 votes separating you two. Apprise us of your mental states?

  7. Cagey Beast Queen says:

    I won’t twist your arm for another story this time. I’m still voting. Course I didn’t know you were offering booze and food too. I liked my story though.

  8. Djurissimo says:

    What kind of death match is this? 2 stories about rebirth? Easter must be coming, that story confuses me every year. I’m thinking more and more every year that m night shyalaman (sp?) wrote it. But I digress. I just wanted to write that before I read these stories, my grades were down, my marriage was on the rocks, I was out of shape, my curling game was way off, and I was going bald. I read talita’s story and I immediately got constipated to top it all off. I thought maybe that was the last straw. But just before ending it all I read the boogeyman, and all of a sudden I was a straight a student, I rekindled my love and started breeding like a rabbit, I developed a 6 pack, my discs were right on the red dot every time, my head sprouted luxurious Evan stone like locks, and my bowel regimen – well – let’s just say I can put the Metamucil away for awhile. Coincidence? I think not. Thanks nikola! Boogeyman fo life!

  9. Craig Calhoun says:

    Alright alright. We are almost up into the Thousandsies.

    A couple of questions for you guys:

    What kinds of promises have you made to your close-knit crew of supporters?

    What of Dorothy Parker’s stuff do you like the best and why?

    What is your favorite Gary Busey role (non-Point Break) and why?

  10. Nikola Jajic says:

    Sara, noooo! er, I mean, there was no ulterior motive! My story is not a propaganda piece, and I’m not affiliated with some weird men’s rights group (Although, I’m very manly).

    I’m not a huge costume party, guy (They’re 70’s swingers weird). So there is that. Hmm… Agenda? Mehbe.

    If you want to intellectualize my silliness (I must warn you, this is no easy task), maybe Boogeyman is the manifestation of my web-surfing tendency to bite on click bait.

    For instance, what sorts of things does Nicolas Cage collect (Think dinosaur bones and Elvis). I kind of hate myself for wanting to know that. Shoe on the other foot, and I had a zillion bucks and starred in Adaptation, I’d probably be sword fighting Christopher Lambert. Actually, I know I would. In my living room. Naked. Like god intended.

    Also, who doesn’t want dinosaur bones and old Elvis shit? How is that weird? Seriously, Christopher Lambert would be reciting Highlander in the nude, for my amusement. I’d have that sweet Kurgan helmet. It would be so fun.

    Gah, I’m getting sidetracked. It’s kind of like this, the first step is admitting you have a problem… and this is why I had to sacrifice Jim. Well, not really, whatever.

    I told you, it’s hard to intellectualize this sort of stuff. And my thesis paper was on the Three Stooges role in global socioeconomic perspectives. Connect the dots, Sara. You’ll be surprised. And yes, it was a weird school.

    As for myself, if anything, I think I lean progressive and liberal… but again, I’m also super manly.

  11. sara ( User Karma: 416 ) says:

    This is a tough call! I happen to like “The Boogeyman” better, but I was kind of hearing those “Mr. Invisibles” in the last round who were talking about a lack of depth in the story.

    So…I just reread it to see if I could find some depth, and I am thinking that the story might be about masculinity in crisis. Just think about it: Jim tries to be Wesley from the Princess Bride (chivalry incarnate); he fails and is demoted from “man” to “boy”; and he must then be “manbirthed” into a new model of masculinity in Nicolas Cage. While the Wesley model of chivalry is all about putting women on a pedestal and serving them, the new model cuts out women through the manbirth.

    Now I don’t know what to think! Is this men’s rights activist propaganda??! What is the “work” that needs “to be done”? I am nervous.

    I will still vote for it, though, because it’s really funny. and I like the part about being too old to fall off of a balcony. Screw you, Mr. Invisible.

  12. Craig Calhoun says:


    Things are very tight. Don’t tell me that you guys aren’t the least teensy-weensy bit anxious?

    Let’s introduce some conflict today:

    – Nikola you are wrong. Banh Mi sandwiches are by far superior to Italian grinders.

    – Talita, I checked out Brisa Lemgruber’s facebook page. She looks like a weirdo.

    Deal with it.

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  13. Craig Calhoun says:

    (Alright. Back to the business at hand.)

    Nikola/Talita – Congratulations on making it to the FINAL ROUND!

    This next week is going to be a very special one for the both of you, psychologically-speaking. For the next seven days you are going to stare at that fucking vote counter with such an intense sense of frustration (if you’re losing) or with such crippling consternation (if you’re winning) and with each day that passes it only gets worse. I still see those numbers in my dreams.

    How’re you guys doing so far? Feeling good? Keeping loose?

    • Talita Valle says:

      I’m feeling pretty chilled. I like Nikola’s story and wouldn’t be totally infuriated if he won, so it’s cool. Enjoying the ride. Is that your cat, Craig? What’s he called? Cats have been very instrumental in my campaign so far.

  14. Nikola Jajic says:

    Oof… second week in a row. The bruises sill haven’t healed from last round. *snorts aspirin* Okay. Let’s do this.

    Hi Talita & Craig. Good to deathmatch meetchya.

    Craig, your photo is amazing.

      • Nikola Jajic says:

        Thanks, Talita! I really liked your story as well. The deathmatching is a lot harder to do when everyone you go up against is talented and nice.

        My last name is pronounced “jay jick” in English and “ya yeech” in Serbian. The letter J sounds like a Y in Serbian.

        You have quite the unique handle as well. I wonder if this is the first deathmatch between an immigrant and the child of immigrants. haha 🙂

        My favorite sandwich? Oooo, that’s a tough one. I’d have to go with an Italian beef with giardiniera peppers on it (from Portillos). Followed by either a Cuban, or an Italian sub (but the quality varies widely with these). Finding the right spot is key, or honing those sandwich making skills.

        Good question. My turn: What is your favorite Brazilian dish (besides delicious roasted meats)? I’ve had an acai bowl with the granola and yogurt, it was authentic-ish I guess… good lord, it was good.

        • Talita Valle says:

          My second favourite Brazilian dish is the French bread rolls you can get everywhere there (in Rio at least) and they’re nothing like the ones I had in France or anywhere else, so I consider them a very typical Brazilian thing. They’re like this atomic ball of overdeveloped gluten and so good.

          My favourite sandwich, incidentally, is a Brazilian-French roll stuffed with salami and so much butter you can see teeth marks.

  15. Craig Calhoun says:

    Alright, kids, huddle up! Bring it in.

    Talita did win her round. I’ve contacted BP admins and let them know what happened. This mix up should be fixed up momenterily.

    I will suggest that Talita supporters vote for the wrong story until they get them swapped out.



  16. edu says:

    “Alison Lang (Moderator) says:
    February 23, 2015 at 12:35 pm
    Hello everyone – we’ve spoken to our web developers, and here is what they say:

    It’s not a glitch or a bug, it’s more of a cached-page kind of thing. The button was removed/closed right at midnight, and the page refreshed/updated but for some users, based on their connections, computers etc. those additional 24 votes got captured, AFTER midnight, for Aerin. For the next round, we are making a filter as an additional precaution that will prevent this from happening.

    So end verdict – additional votes were cast after midnight and don’t count.”

    Talita is the winner based on the number of votes she received BY MIDNIGHT. Congrats to her!”

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