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Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Time Event
Cross sums (now called kakuro) are perhaps my favorite puzzles, but not the best use of time so I try to stay away. However, I was helpless in the face of a newly unearthed clean copy of Dell Deluxe Edition Cross Sums #1, and solved all 211 puzzles. The starting hints were unusually helpful, probably because I proofread this book (in 2004, so I don't remember the puzzles) and suggested the last entries I filled in. I then found another Dell kakuro magazine, and solved all 200 puzzles. Very addictive.

What I should be doing is making a dent in my reading backlog. Adam Langer guest-solved the NYT crossword in September, and I recently read his novel, "The Thieves of Manhattan." I probably missed most of the hidden puzzles, but still enjoyed the twisty, meta, NYC-centric plot. I immediately grinned at the literary eponyms (listed in a glossary at the back) like "chabon n. A wavy mane like the one worn by the author Michael Chabon."

I mention that eponym since I also read Michael Chabon's "Wonder Boys." Everyone in this book (mostly academics and students) seems to be falling apart, and using drugs, alcohol and sex to cope. What's supposed to be whimsical and comic comes across as sad to me. I don't want to see the movie.

Continuing in a more literary vein than my usual chick-lit, I also attempted "Reunion" by Alan Lightman, and gave up after 111 pages. Charles muses and reminisces on the brink of his 30-year Princeton-like college reunion, and I couldn't stay awake. The author has won many awards, so it's probably not him, it's me.

I gave up even more quickly (66 pages) on Ellen Douglas' "The Rock Cried Out." Maybe this New Yorker couldn't relate to the book's strong sense of place of the South. Written under a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the novel has a classy pedigree but I just couldn't appreciate it.

I did finish Joan Didion's "The Year of Magical Thinking." Am I going to say that I didn't appreciate this highly-praised National Book Award winner? Well, sort of. Didion had a horrible year (husband died suddenly, daughter was hospitalized) which got even worse after the events in the book (daughter died). Others reported reading with tissues handy, but I wasn't feeling her pain.

Maybe I'm not hopeless, since I was enthralled by the final 3 Harry Potter books. Situations became unfair, dangerous, and threatening and I got lost in Harry's now-familiar world. I don't understand every last bit of mythology, though, and will have to see if the movies clarify things.

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