Comments: Cross

I also started a list of notes/errors, but haven't picked up the book in months. You'd think a book about my own little world would get devoured eagerly.

First on the list was the HIP comment. I checked the database and of course HIP has appeared in the NYT puzzle. Peter can fill you in on the mistelling of the "can't solve his own puzzle faster than a champ" story. On the other hand, Helene was happy to hear she was still in college in 1973.

I'm sure you or me or Jon or or any number of people who work with RH would have been happy to vet this book had anyone thought to ask.

Posted by Ellen at October 27, 2005 02:32 AM

Wow. Yikes. I think he may be first up against the large 15x15 whiteboards when the revolution comes.

Posted by Lance at October 27, 2005 03:35 AM

Oh yes, I already have Peter's correction on hand and ready to go, once I get to that chapter. Didn't notice the misreporting of Helene's college years though.

Posted by Francis at October 27, 2005 08:43 AM

I haven't read the whole thing; I confess to only having looked at the bits where I'm mentioned/interviewed. But the long phone interview he did with me did not build up my confidence for the book, and I can't say I'm surprised. (This is, after all, the guy who compared me to a horse in the Boston Globe, so I'm hardly unbiased, but still.)

Posted by Kath at October 27, 2005 09:00 AM

When I read a book that is so poorly written (and edited) in that special, my-sentences-are-grammatical-but-I-am-an-intellectual-sloth way, I like to imagine a library copy of the book to which all subsequent waves of readers have taken a pencil--even if the author never sees it, future readers will not be alone in their aggravation.

Posted by Laura at October 27, 2005 10:15 AM

Yep, HIP's got 17 uses in the NYT, according to the Cruciverb database.

Continue the evisceration. Will you be pointing out the typos, or sticking with content problems?

Posted by Orange at October 27, 2005 10:54 AM

It seemed like it would be boring to point out typos and straight copyediting-type notes (like that I would have removed the word "that" in the sentence "Puzzle constructors are the crème de la crème of the crossword world, but as a group they don't tend to do that exceptionally well in a competitive environment" on page 26), but if there's a particularly amusing or egregious one I'll probably mention it.

Posted by Francis at October 27, 2005 11:03 AM

17 uses, but Eugene and Will used the same damn clue every time. "Thigh bone connected to the ___ bone"

Posted by Charles at October 27, 2005 11:21 AM

OK, so he's a corny writer and didn't bother to do decent research. What about the actual content -- is it an inferior attempt at writing a book like WORD FREAK? Or are you working up to that? In which case I'll wait. As a non-puzzle-expert, I was kinda curious about this book, because I have a fascination with people who can solve puzzles quickly and brilliantly.

Posted by Col at October 27, 2005 12:22 PM

OMG. I particularly like
In one 1998 puzzle that has become famous among the solving community, one hopeful suitor even managed to convince Will Shortz to encode a message asking the woman of the young man's dreams -- an avid daily puzzler -- to marry him. Shortz agreed, as did the girl.

This is bad parallelism, to boot, right? Because 'convince' really doesn't need to be followed with "Shortz agreed." It sounds like the author is one of those people who believe that if they use the same word twice in one paragraph they will break out in hives. It also sounds like Will agreed to marry the guy too. One big happy ...

Posted by Erin at October 27, 2005 01:34 PM

Colleen: The book improves when he starts talking about the crossword tournament itself, since it's personal anecdotes, which one can't spend so much time picking apart for factual errors. But it's no Word Freak; you don't really get to know anyone except for Brendan Quigley, who is kind of a character, and I think the author captures him very well. But most other people are only mentioned in passing; the bulk of the tournament sections of the book are taken up with discussions of what solving the crosswords was like, what errors he made, and which women were hot. Basically, it's too much about him and not enough about other people. Stefan Fatsis spent a lot of Word Freak talking about his own quest to acquire Scrabble skillz, but you felt much more like you were getting to know people on the way.

Posted by Francis at October 27, 2005 01:57 PM

I did not care so much about the copy editing mistakes as about the constant speculation. Most of my gripes are in my review on

Lately I seem to be reading only books with some good information that are hurt by the authors' being so in love with their own wittiness -- Passionate Marriage, a bit, and Battling the Id (Inner Dummy), which could be infuriating -- but nothing comes close to Crossworld in this regard.

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