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From Square One: A Meditation, with Digressions, on Crosswords Hardcover – Bargain Price, June 23, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1 edition (June 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743287622
  • ASIN: B003D7JWQA
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,901,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"From Square One takes the reader into stranger and more illuminating corners of the world glimpsed in Wordplay. Dean Olsher shows the wide-ranging and nimble mind you'd expect of someone who loves crosswords." -- Stewart O'Nan, author of Last Night at the Lobster and Songs for the Missing

"This is my kind of book. If you like words, and wordplay, and the oddities of the imagination, and the company of an engaging and witty narrator, then it is your kind of book, too." -- Meg Wolitzer, author of The Ten-Year Nap and The Wife

"Dean Olsher is the Robert Pirsig of crossword puzzles." -- Jon Delfin, seven-time American Crossword Puzzle Tournament champion

"If Dean Olsher wrote a book on the history of plumbing supplies, I would snap it up. He whips the subject in a blender of love, curiosity, elation, mystery, humor, and obsession (plenty of that). Plus, you learn a lot of odd and interesting facts about crossword puzzles -- and human beings." -- Maira Kalman, author of The Principles of Uncertainty

"Dean Olsher has written a great book that everyone will love, not just crossword people." -- Isaac Mizrahi --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"From Square One takes the reader into stranger and more illuminating corners of the world glimpsed in Wordplay. Dean Olsher shows the wide-ranging and nimble mind you'd expect of someone who loves crosswords." -- Stewart O'Nan, author of Last Night at the Lobster and Songs for the Missing

"This is my kind of book. If you like words, and wordplay, and the oddities of the imagination, and the company of an engaging and witty narrator, then it is your kind of book, too." -- Meg Wolitzer, author of The Ten-Year Nap and The Wife

"Dean Olsher is the Robert Pirsig of crossword puzzles." -- Jon Delfin, seven-time American Crossword Puzzle Tournament champion

"If Dean Olsher wrote a book on the history of plumbing supplies, I would snap it up. He whips the subject in a blender of love, curiosity, elation, mystery, humor, and obsession (plenty of that). Plus, you learn a lot of odd and interesting facts about crossword puzzles -- and human beings." -- Maira Kalman, author of The Principles of Uncertainty

"Dean Olsher has written a great book that everyone will love, not just crossword people." -- Isaac Mizrahi

More About the Author

Dean Olsher has been a broadcaster for more than thirty years, most of which he has spent in public radio. He was an arts and culture correspondent for NPR News as well as the creator and host of The Next Big Thing, a popular national show. Olsher is currently a visiting professor at New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Charlotte Vogel on December 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The subtitle "A meditation, with digressions, on crosswords" should simply be "Digressions." Crosswords are almost incidental (except for occasional recurring comment on cryptic crosswords, which Olsher champions). It has been a long time since I have read something so muddled, unfocussed and chaotic, more a stream of consciousness than anything else.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By gerryb on June 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved the amazing information so fluidly presented- a fascinating history of crosswords and the gossip, recollections and stories of puzzlers both famous and unknown. I loved finding out that Meg Wolitzer, author of one of my favorite novels ("The Wife") is a serious crossword person. I also am a huge fan of cryptics, but don't really care if they take America by storm as long as I can get a few good ones a month from Harpers, The Atlantic and other odd sources.

What I really disagree with strenuously is Olsher's idea that solving crosswords is akin tot he experience to listening to a great piece of music or viewing a great work of art. This is just plain silly. As a visual
artist and crossword fiend I find this ridiculous. Crosswords, especially cryptics, yield intense experiences. So do great works of art, but logic 101 teaches correctly that because two things have something in common it does not folllow that they are the same thing. One huge difference is that crosswords have only one solution. Art often has many "solutions" or perhaps more to the point, none at all. One cannot "solve" an art experience. One can analyze it but that may not be the point. This hyperbole about art and crosswords almost ruined an otherwise excellent book
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Barbra Tarkenton on June 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. What's wonderful about it is the way it seamlessly blends autobiographical details with a solid, well-reported appreciation of crossword puzzles. Yes, you learn about how avid British crossword puzzlers were recruited to help solve the Enigma code during WWII, and yes, you learn what the editors of crossword puzzles think makes a good puzzle ("fresh fill"), but what really lasts in the reader's mind are the scenes between the author and his father. (And also the story of a couple wherein the husband wakes up early to do the puzzle, and then erases all his answers so his wife can do it.) This book is literary in the best sense of the word.
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Format: Hardcover
I don't always read non-fiction.

But when I do, I read about a topic I love and it's written by a former correspondent for NPR.

"From Square One" is a lovely, quick read. It's more an interesting memoir about a personal relationship with crosswords than an historical account or a philosophical explication of crossword puzzles.

(Read the rest on my blog! [...]
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By Henry Alford on November 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I read this book two months ago and I am still thinking about it. What lasts for me are Olsher's terrific description of why he is drawn to crossword puzzles (strangely, they bring him a feeling of emptiness), and also a fabulous narrative strand about a couple in the Berkshires who both do the same puzzle each morning (he erases his answers after he completes the puzzle). Highly recommended.
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