From Square One
I first met Dean Olsher at the 2004 ACPT, when he interviewed me
for his public radio show (which I had heard), "The Next Big Thing." He was back in 2005
to compete, part of his research for a book he was writing on crosswords. We stayed in touch, and he joined my team at the Haystack Hunt
and even stayed in our Puzzle Palace at Sundance
, as well as attending more ACPTs. He never did make it to an NPL convention (but there's still time - Baltimore July 9-12!).
"The Next Big Thing" is unfortunately no longer around, but the book is now a reality. "From Square One"
is about crosswords. And more than crosswords. But also about crosswords. It's thoughtful and it's different.
Browsing the book giveaway shelf at the Times a few months ago, I found two advance reading copies of the book. Ooh! I took both, and gave the extra to jon88
. Dean was about to submit his final corrections and wanted our notes. One of Jon's ended up as a book-jacket blurb, while I procrastinated and never got around to finishing my comments.
The book release party was held last week at a Brooklyn apartment (a stop away from the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott) with a huge, wraparound terrace. It was unseasonably cold out there and I kept my raincoat on, looking like a bag lady who had mistakenly wandered in. lunchboy
plays a prominent role in the book (I'm in it a teeny bit), and was one of the few people I knew at the event. I once again exhibited my complete lack of social skills, feeling too shy to talk to strangers and probably missing out on meeting some interesting and intelligent people.
Dean gave a short speech and thanked various people, among them novelist Meg Wolitzer who he said was there. Where? Francis and I rushed over and asked Dean to point her out, and we introduced ourselves. She's a puzzle/Scrabble person, I've read some of her books, and I remembered her participating in a blog discussion
. In the small world department, I just found out she's a high school friend of Mrs. Tex (Denise). Then some people who'd seen "Wordplay" came over, so I was spared having to use my nonexistent social skills.
Tonight Dean gave a reading at the 82nd/Broadway B&N. Given the location, I had to get an H&H bagel (fresh out of the oven, plain) first. Jon, Dan Feyer, and jeffurrynpl
also attended (Quiz was also supposed to be there. Yoo hoo! Quiz? No Quiz. That's our Quiz). A woman sitting nearby said she'd been in the NPL in the '70s, and asked if I was Mangie.
But this entry is not about me, it's about Dean. Go read his book.