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Crossword Obsession: The History And Lore of the World's Most Popular Pastime 1St Edition Edition

3.2 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0756790868
ISBN-10: 0756790867
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Coral Amende is a veteran puzzle constructor whose crosswords and original word games have been featured in The New York Times (yes, the Sunday Edition), The Washington Post, and Los Angeles Magazine, where she has been a puzzle creator and editor since 1993. She is the author of the Random House Famous Name Finder, Hollywood Confidential, Country Confidential, and Rock Confidential, If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say....Come Sit Next to Me, and the RPG Game Collection.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 369 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Pub./Penguin; 1St Edition edition (September 30, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756790867
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756790868
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,004,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
For those who merely dabble in cruciverbalism, this book is best left on the shelf. But for those who've done enough crosswords to know Cathy Millhauser from Nancy Salomon, Merl Reagle from Rich Norris, and especially for the budding constructor, "The Crossword Obsession" is a must-have. Constructors and editors from Will Shortz to Trip Payne to Merl Reagle discuss what they love about crosswords, the favorite themes they've done, editors of the past, and more. Though only one chapter is actually labeled as one on tips for constructors, the entire book -- with the exception of the first few pages, which tell the fascinating history of crosswords -- is a mine of ideas and information for aspiring crossword constructors. Those who are hoping for deep insight into just *why* crosswords are such a popular phenomenon -- after all, why do we solvers enjoy frustration so much as to want to do it again? -- will be disappointed. Those who are fascinated with the business of creating and solving crosswords and wonder how it's done will be more than satisfied.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wouldn't call this book particularly well written. There's some history, but the book doesn't provide a long, captivating narrative of the development of the puzzle, or a psychoanalysis of the folks who become addicted to their daily puzzle. Rather, the book is more or less a collection of comments and insight from many of the creators of currently-published crosswords -- how they got into puzzle creation, how they sold their first puzzle, how long it takes them to solve the Sunday NY Times puzzle, etc. The book is behind-the-scenes reality show on crossword puzzles. After reading it, you'll have a good sense of how puzzles are created, how they are edited, what makes a puzzle good, what makes a puzzle bad (or unpublishable), and how the daily crossword puzzle ends up as a final product in your morning newspaper. You'll learn about the preferences of different editors (now I finally know why my collections of NY Times crosswords edited by Will Shortz are SO MUCH MORE FUN TO SOLVE than the NY Times crosswords edited by Eugene Maleska). You'll learn about the evils of "crosswordese" (if you're reading this -- you know what I'm talking about -- words like etui). The book contains biographical shorts of the various crossworders who contributed -- they come from varied backgrounds, from Will Shortz, who majored in crossword puzzles in college (seriously) to dentists and physical therapists and lawyers who got sucked in by their hobby. The book also contains some very good puzzles and their solutions -- though I wouldn't recommend this book if your only interest in in solving puzzles. Overall, a great selection if you want to get to know the clever people and the detailed process that deliver crossword puzzles to the rest of us -- it may be of limited interest to anyone else.
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Format: Hardcover
Torturous. Not only is this book not for the crossword dillettante, it should be a disappointment to the hardcore solver whose only delight perhaps might come from seeing his friends' names in print.
A haphazardly constructed tome, "Crossword Collection" is little more than transcribed interviews with the crossword world's major players and reads like a book in search of an editor. It's as if Amende did all the research for the book and then chose not to write one. There's something to be said for letting the people interviewed speak for themselves, but a little editing is in order as quote after quote after quote sucks the life out what must be an interesting group of people.
There's something disappointing when a good idea for a book is poorly executed. For a well-written, humorous look at a similar world, stick to "Word Freak," Fatsis' book about competitive Scrabble.
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Format: Hardcover
Caution: This book contains coarse words that would never appear in The New York Times crossword puzzle.
Most people who occasionally do crossword puzzles are bound to have certain questions such as:
(1) How are the puzzles constructed?
(2) What do editors do with puzzles submitted to them?
(3) What were the famous puzzle editors like in person?
(4) What do the best puzzle solvers do to make faster progress?
(5) How to solvers prepare for contests?
(6) What reference books do constructors and the best solvers use?
(7) What are the most common short words used in puzzles?
(8) How should unusual clues be interpreted?
(9) How should I attack unusual puzzles?
Those who have wanted to know more about these and many other interesting questions will find many interesting answers from a variety of perspectives in this multifaceted book.
The book contains a fine combination of history, profiles, interviews, answers to common questions by many experts, and perspectives on a variety of crossword puzzles. In addition, you will be pleased to know that the book also provides a number of puzzles and answers to entertain you. For some of the famous puzzles, there are also comments about the puzzle by the constructor.
My favorite part was the section on how to construct puzzles, with many references to computer programs and on-line resources to help. I have always wanted to try my hand at a puzzle, and this shows me the basic elements. I'm sure it will be very difficult, but personally rewarding.
You will also find a good appendix on various resources, suggested readings, a glossary, a brief summary of factoids about words that appear frequently, and biographies and photographs of constructors and editors.
Read more ›
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