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Customer Review

45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is it love or obsession? Who cares?, July 29, 2001
This review is from: Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players (Hardcover)
Years ago at a friendly kitchen table game of Scrabble my dad excitedly mentioned that they have tournaments for this sort of thing. I thought he was nuts, but a few months later he had won his first tournament in the fifth division at New Albany. When he showed off his winnings, one (frankly goofy) mug, I knew it was all down hill.
I watched with a bemused and frightened kind of admiration as he flew cross-country to play in tournaments and memorized world list after word list and his ranking improved. He'd come to visit and tell stories of racks, plays, opponents, wins and losses. None of which I really understood or cared about. But I nodded encouragingly like any good daughter ought to. When my friends talked about how dorky their fathers were, all I had to do was mention my dad plays Scrabble competively and is really pretty good at it. They resigned to my dorky dominance. I always realized my dad was part of some bizzare sunculture, but Word Freak made a few things clear: 1. My dad is execptionally normal in the grand scheme of Scrabble things. 2. He is nowhere near alone. 3. The subculture is much more bizzare and much more developed than I ever knew.
I don't read nonfiction, but I felt obliged to read this and I really, really liked it. These characters--these (real) people--are unbelievable and yet believably real. Fatsis does an amazing job of not only presenting them as real (obessed) players, but explaining the profile of a competitive games player. He even makes the history of Scrabble interesting. (How that's possible is beyond me.) It's chracter-driven, entertaining and well written. In short, I loved it.
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