By a geek, about geeks and, ultimately, for geeks!
Feb 23, 2010
OK, OK, I admit it! I've been called a geek by the best of them. Even my family has indulged in a covert chuckle a time or two over my off-the-wall hobbies which include (aside from reviewing books for Amazon, of course) Sudoku and crosswords. I've even been known to take a crack at constructing a cryptic crossword from time to time. So you may well imagine my pleasure at coming across "Gridlock", an insider's look at what author Matt Gaffney describes as "the quirky subculture of America's crossword puzzles."
Sadly, the idea was considerably better than the execution. I think the problem rests with the fact that there just simply isn't enough interesting material to pad out an entire book on the topic. Gaffney touches on the difficulties of making a living in the field, the growth of the use of computers in the industry, the evolution of theme-oriented puzzles and the quality of the puzzles in a national publication such as The Sunday New York Times versus the weakness and repetitiveness of puzzles in some of the off-the-shelf magazines. He talks at some length about the attributes that both solvers and creators alike look for in a well-constructed grid. He talks about some of the personalities in the field and even goes so far as to give us a peek inside some of the conferences that puzzle creators attend.
But ,the bottom line is this ... even though I probably qualify for at least honourary membership in the geek's club, reading about them never really ultimately proved to be particularly compelling. Passably interesting, yes, but thrilling page-turning - sorry, no!
Recommended (if you're REALLY into crossword puzzles).
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