Book review: Review: Crossworld, by Marc Roma

When I curled up with Marc Romano’s book on crosswords, I thought it was a halfway decent read. Then I changed my mind relegrated it to crapdom, and wondered if I was off the mark.

Well, James Kaplan in the NYTimes Sunday Book Review seems to feel the same way.

I don’t mind someone telling me how smart he is - so long as he can prove it in a somewhat endearing way. The problem with Romano is he’s not that smart, and he’s not endearing at all.

Worse yet, he makes egregious blunders you just don’t expect from a self-proclaimed polymath.

Earlier I read some of the custoner reviews at Amazon - mostly bad if memory serves - and a couple of them picked up on some facts that Romano inexplicably slipped up on. But there was one that no one caught. I swear to God that in an aside, Romano mentions that the Red Sox finally beat the Yankees in the World Series. (If you need clarification on that point, ask a baseball fan.)

Anyway, you can find it at…

All in all, I’d say, don’t buy the book. If you must read it, get it from the library. And while you’re there, make the trip count. Pick up a copy of Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?: The Mystery Behind the Agatha Christie Mystery… by Pierre Bayard.

Bayard is a French psychoanalyst, and his premise is that Hercule Poirot got it wrong. Someone else killed Roger Ackroyd. Mon Dieu, mes amis! Hercule’s leetle gray cells must have fallen asleep. :eek:

Check it out at

(I’ve already ordered a copy, hoping it’s wonderfully clever.)

scratches Romano’s book of my to-read list

I was a little intemperate in my OP.

Marc Romano is smart. He just falls all over himself trying to show just how smart he is.

What’s more the book isn’t a total loss. It has some good parts. For example, he tells us that the NY Times doesn’t publish the toughest puzzles on a daily basis. That honor goes to the New York Sun. (Try them at…

…but you need across lite.)
On page 75, Romano writes, “The Sun’s puzzles for the record, are harder than the ones that appear in the New York times by an order equivalent to about two days in a seven-puzzle-a-day format [sic]; a Sun Monday, in other words, is roughly equivalent, in terms of solving difficulty, to a Times Wednesday.” They’re edited by Peter Gordon.

And do you want to compare your solving speeds to his?

He doesn’t bother with NYT’s Monday or Tuesday puzzles (which is subject to change for training purposes), but the Wednesdays he does in 6-7 minutes, Thursdays, 6-8, Fridays 7-15, Saturdays, 10-17 and Sundays 15-24 minutes.

I think we have some Dopers who do them that fast.

Well, I am a trained professional … :wink: