The Crossword Century: 100 Years of Witty Wordplay, Ingenious Puzzles, and Linguistic Mischief

Alan Connor. Gotham, $24 (208p) ISBN 978-1-59240-858-0
The puzzle columnist for the Guardian, Connor celebrates the first 100 years of the ubiquitous black-and-white pencil game with a lighthearted overview. From the crossword’s first appearance in the 1913 New York World to Wordplay, the 2006 documentary about the annual American crossword solving contest, each bite-size chapter covers a different aspect of the pastime with emphasis on 20th-century influences such as from caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, humorist P.G. Wodehouse, and lyricist Stephen Sondheim. The global fever took off in 1924 with publication of the first puzzle collection by a fledgling publishing house now known as Simon & Schuster. While the crossword changes shape from country to country, the passion for solving remains a constant. Connor credits the crossword’s universal popularity to the fact that the inventor didn’t copyright the idea, which would have entailed royalties. Those who resort to looking up answers will especially appreciate Connor’s chapter on cheating, in which he opines, “there’re no Marquess of Queensberry rules” in this arena, so no rules can be broken. Agent: Andrew Gordon, David Higham Associates (UK). (July)
Reviewed on: 06/02/2014
Release date: 07/10/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-1-59240-938-9
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