A memoir of travels and family interspersed with crossword clues, history and personalities (especially UK crosswordage for the die-hard fan). It’s quite charming as a memoir, Balfour’s style is dry and wryly entertaining, and for a while at least I put in a concerted effort to solve every clue as it appeared. The rarefication of the crosswording milieu started to get to me, however – although that may really mean that I was outsmarted more frequently and more resoundingly than I can stand – but I did enjoy the book and I’m looking forward to sharing it with my crosswording mentor. I did buy it thinking of her.
P.S. Oh, that’s right — whyfor no exploration of the fact that all the crossword setters, except a dead one, were blokes? Quite the patriarchal institution, the crossword page, classic Oxbridge Britishness controlling the grid.
Where it came from: Another lovely secondhand bookshop in these parts
Time and manner of reading: Assorted bed and armchair reads
Where it went: Keeper Shelf via MR
Best line of the book: “the much-quoted wish of Louis MacNeice: ‘I would have a poet able-bodied, fond of talking, a reader of the newspapers, capable of pity and laughter, informed in economics, appreciative of women, involved in personal relationships, actively interested in politics, susceptible to physical impressions…’” (p.75)
Reminds me of/that: —
Who I’d recommend it to: Devoted crossword “solvers”, and perhaps other passionate word nerds
Also reading: Being Alive edited by Neil Astley; Returning the Gift edited by Joseph Bruchac; The Pea-Pickers by Eve Langley; When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön