Monday, November 24, 2014

Cross Words

I just read The Crossword Century by Alan Connor.  Crosswords were invented in 1913, thus the celebration.  Connor is a British writer who has a weekly column on crosswords in The Guardian, so you think he's be the perfect person for this project, but I found it disappointing.

It's a short book--under 200 pages--made up of short chapters, about five pages per.  They jump all over the place and never coalesce into a satisfying whole.  It makes me wonder if this isn't just a rewritten collection of short pieces.

Connor divides the book into two parts, Across and Down, though I can't see the distinction.  He does say that, like a crossword puzzle, each chapter could be read separately, but even if each chapter were delightful (and few are), that's not enough.  He starts with a chapter on the history of the game, but after that it's one unrelated piece after another.  Also, being British, he discusses the cryptic-style puzzle more than the regular crossword Americans are used to.

PS  I did like how he gave clues for the title of each chapter.  Some samples:

1.  All the rage, but beginning to fade? (3)
2.  The writer's craft? (10)
3.  Who wrote words for sharks to sing? (8)
4.  Crazy to be seen in Georgia, twice? (4)
5.  Break this with some eggs? (4)
6.  The sound of Webster's, up to a point? (9)
7.  Sounds like a fight, for two people? (4)
8.  As seen on TV--or on a laptop? (7)
9.  What dumb spies seek? (12)
10.  A detective with sticky feet? (7)

I'll add in a little illustration here so you can avoid peeking at the solutions.

 
Answers:

1. FAD
2. AUTHORSHIP
3. SONDHEIM
4. GAGA
5. FAST
6. ADDICTION
7. DUAL
8. PROGRAM
9. INTELLIGENCE
10. GUMSHOE

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if I fully get #6.

6:48 PM, November 24, 2014  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

Does one ever fully get anything? Do you mean you don't get it at all? Try going to get a diction

2:06 PM, November 25, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But why is there an extra D?

3:33 PM, November 25, 2014  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

Isn't that just a word form issue? I'm afraid you've lost me. Someday I suppose we'll move to a simplified spelling system, pretty soon I imagine, and maybe double consonants will go away, but not yet. Until then, we're stuck with addition instead of adishun. (Probably I'm hopelessly out of date: It won't be word forms from traditional linguistics, it'll be some perverse outgrowth of texting or even straight up digital transmission. You could be the next internet multibillionaire for the invention of Bitter.)

2:30 PM, November 26, 2014  

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