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Showing 1-2 of 2 reviews(3 star).Show all reviews
on January 2, 2004
The acquaintance who recommended this book told me it would renew my interest in and excitement about playing Scrabble. Wrong! The message I took away from this read is renewed belief that human beings can pervert just about anything.
Another reviewer mentioned her offense at the author's denegration of "blue hairs," as he likes to call female senior citizens. He also seems to disdain "fat middle aged women," whom he refers to several times and whom he is humiliated to lose to. Later in the book, he deigns to devote a couple of pages to female Scrabble players and explains that, although they outnumber male players in tournaments, they are not competitive at the highest levels -- mostly because they have lives apart from Scrabble (like jobs, family, friends) -- unlike the obsessive male Scrabble players who dominate the book, several of whom seem to be genuinely mentally ill.
If I had any ideas of joining a Scrabble club or doing anything more than playing occasionally with my sister, this book squelched those desires. And perhaps it's just as well. As a fat middle-aged women about 10 years short of a blue-hair, I am probably better off sticking with quilting and needlepoint where I can be with my own kind.
I have rated this book 3 stars because Fatsis does have a way of drawing me into the book. Just when I'm ready to set it aside, either because the technical detail is boring or because I'm offended by his treatment of women, he manages to recapture my attention. It's not a page turner, but I feel compelled to finish reading it.
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on January 16, 2003
I have no complaints about this book except that it's rather dry considering the subject matter is about a sub-culture of people partially or totally obsessed with a board game. My main problem is this: Near the end of the book when Fatsis is describing his experience where he claimed to have played the "total game," I was appalled to discover a mistake in his reasoning. He graphically (p. 338 in my paperback edition) and deliberately describes the set-up on a board during a particular tournamet game nearing the end game. He says that he had an available place to play MATADORS but to ensure that his opponent would not block his chances, he plays the letter B on anavailable O (BO) to set up an alternate place to bingo with the hook on BO for ABO on a subsequent turn. The problem is that MATADORS would not fit on the board in the place where the A on his tray would hook onto ABO. Now this may sound like a small complaint, but this whole book is about attention to detail. Is this just a case of poor proof-reading or is Fatsis jerking the reader around with a phony set-up? I am a little bit ticked at this minor irritation because I asked Fatsis at a recent Book Review at Powell's Books if he felt any pangs of remorse by playing phony words. He said that it was just part of the game and why should he feel remorse? I frankly think that the phony words diminish the purity of the game and Fatsis should acknowledge that the game will be flawed until this bluffing techniques is ruled illegal. If he wants to bluff he should play poker. If he gets a thrill out of laying down a phony word and getting away with it, so be it. But when he gloats at his successful challenge of an inferior opponent's play of a plural noun with an S hooked onto his own phony word, I draw the line. He should feel good about his ability to play the game in its purest form, not in his ability to out-flank an inferior opponent. Shame on him. Life in the world of a competitive Scrabble player may be as pathetic as he describes.
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