Author(s): Alan Connor
A journalist and word aficionado salutes the 100-year history and pleasures of crossword puzzles Since its debut inThe New York Worldon December 21, 1913, the crossword puzzle has enjoyed a rich and surprisingly lively existence. Alan Connor, a comic writer known for his exploration of all things crossword in The Guardian, covers every twist and turn: from the 1920s, when crosswords were considered a menace to productive society; to World War II, when they were used to recruit code breakers; to their starring role in a 2008 episode ofThe Simpsons. He also profiles the colorful characters who make up the interesting and bizarre subculture of crossword constructors and competitive solvers, including Will Shortz, the iconic New York Times puzzle editor who created a crafty crossword that appeared to predict the outcome of a presidential election, and the legions of competitive puzzle solvers who descend on a Connecticut hotel each year in an attempt to be crowned the American puzzle-solving champion. At a time when the printed word is in decline, Connor marvels at the crossword s seamless transition onto Kindles and iPads, keeping the puzzle one of America s favorite pastimes. He also explores the way the human brain processes crosswords versus computers that are largely stumped by clues that require wordplay or a simple grasp of humor. A fascinating examination of our most beloved linguistic amusement and filled with tantalizing crosswords and clues embedded in the text The Crossword Centuryis sure to attract the attention of the readers who madeWord FreakandJust My Typebestsellers."
"There is something to entertain even the most infrequent dabbler" Financial Times "Alan Connor's charming, fascinating history . . . is as elegantly sprinkled with surprising gems as the most satisfying crossword . . . thoroughly, consistently entertaining . . . In a single, gloriously decipherable chapter he lays out with perfect clarity the entire range of rules and devices through which cryptic clues work their magic" Sunday Times "It is witty, charming, encyclopaedic and highly readable - and it can be read in any order. Take a chapter or a paragraph, a puzzle or a clue. In each the reader will find something to intrigue and delight." Spectator "A lovingly crafted little book, from the table of contents where chapter titles are hidden in a crossword designed by the great Araucaria to the index, which skips from 'I give up, see frustration' via 'primness in American crosswords', to finish with 'zookeepers, beleaguered.'" The Times "A lovingly crafted little book . . . Connor's wry, good-natured tone and his commitment to the serious business of play make him the perfect guide to a great pastime as it approaches its 100th birthday." Daily Telegraph "Connor writes with great flair . . . it is nice to dip in and out of his entertaining essays" Church Times "An ideal stocking filler" Metro "The brilliant new book on crosswords that delivers fun galore whether you're a doer or a duffer" Mail on Sunday"
Alan Connor is an Oxford-educated writer, journalist, television producer, and academic. He lives in London where he writes a biweekly column for The Guardian on crosswords.