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Friday, March 24, 2006

Word Nerds

Comedian Jon Stewart, host of “The Daily Show,” admits he’ll do the USA Today crossword puzzle, but adds: “but I won’t feel good about myself.”

Stewart is one of the New York Times crossword puzzle enthusiasts -- along with Bill Clinton, Bob Dole and the Indigo Girls -- featured in “Wordplay,” a new film scheduled to be released this June. The movie was partly filmed at the 2005 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament and Convention. This year’s tournament -- the 29th -- runs March 24-26 in Stamford, CT.

More than 64 million Americans are cruciverbalists -- people who enjoy an activity reputedly invented by journalist Arthur Wayne in 1913. In less than 100 years, crossword puzzles have become the most popular word game in the world.

They’ve even spawned two series of mystery novels. The Puzzle Lady series is written by Parnell Hall, and follows enigmatist (a crossword puzzle creator) Cora Felton as she solves murders across seven novels. Books in the series include “Last Puzzle and Testament,” “Puzzled to Death,” “With This Puzzle, I Thee Kill,” and the most recent, “Stalking the Puzzle Lady.”

Another series features enigmatist Belle Graham and her husband Rosco, a private investigator, as they solve crimes. The 11-book series includes “Corpus de Crossword,” “Anatomy of a Crossword,” “A Crossworder’s Delight,” and the latest, “Another Word for Murder.” The series is written under the nom de plume Nero Blanc by married cruciverbalists Cordelia Frances Biddle and Steve Zettler.

You might also be interested in the non-fiction books “Crossworld: One Man’s Journey Into America’s Crossword Obsession” by Marc Romano; “Pretty Girl in Crimson Rose (8): A Memoir of Love, Exile and Crosswords” by Sandy Balfour; and “Twelve Across” a romance novel by Barbara Delinsky.

Find other books in the library’s online catalog.

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