Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Word Freak

I recently finished Stefan Fatsis's Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble, which a co-worker had lent me. You don't have to be a Scrabble player to enjoy the book, and indeed it has gotten good reviews outside the Scrabble world. However, it helps if you tend to be obsessive about something ... anything. Otherwise, you won't see the point.

The book is, on the surface, about competitive Scrabble, but really it's an examination of a subculture and obsessive people. Many years ago, I was more deeply involved in this subculture. Then, "real life" (kids, jobs, etc.) got in the way and I drifted out of it. It scares me a little to know that people described in Fatsis's book as "borderline pathological" seemed normal ... well, not terribly abnormal at any rate ... when I ran across them at Scrabble tournaments.

Reading this book has made me realize how much I miss playing Scrabble with real people sitting across from me and spending entire tournament days playing one exhausting and thrilling game after another. It's got me thinking that I need to dig out my old word lists, learn the new OSPD 4 (Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, Fourth Edition, for my non-playing blog readers), and practice tracking tiles again. But then those real-life things start demanding my attention, and the index cards covered with 3-letter words get put aside for a while longer.

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