On Olsher’s “From Square One”

10 Dec

from_square_one.largeI don’t always read non-fiction.

But when I do, I read about a topic I love and it’s written by a former correspondent for NPR.

“From Square One” is a lovely, quick read. It’s more an interesting memoir about a personal relationship with crosswords than an historical account or a philosophical explication of crossword puzzles. Olsher writes like any good radio personality speaks: never overbearing and when humorous is wittily so–those kinds of punchlines that hit you two sentences later and make you chortle to yourself even when you’re in public.

Everyone goes to crossword puzzles for different reasons, the way everyone goes to alcohol for different reasons, but we all have overlapping habits to some extent (for example, Olsher and I both make a personal rule for easier Monday/Tuesday puzzles: we only allow ourselves to solve words attached to the Across-1), the way lots of alcoholics have overlapping extraneous habits (for example, always following one drink with a second drink, or whatever alcoholics do). In any case, Olsher’s personal anecdotes and his interviews/encounters with other crossword enthusiasts comforted me with a feeling of solidarity. They also challenged me to exercise my mind more. They also depressed me with a reminder that there are people like 20-year-old Tyler Hinman who can finish a Saturday “Times” puzzle in just over four minutes. (I think my personal record is thirteen words on Saturday.)

“FSO” reads easily, and if it does anything for you, it will surely make you want to go out and buy a newspaper.

One Response to “On Olsher’s “From Square One””


  1. On Sarah Vowell’s “The Wordy Shipmates” | litbeetle - July 18, 2014

    […] book is like … Dean Olsher’s From Square One, a fun exploration of the art of crossword puzzles–both creating them and completing them. […]

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