Word Freak

Word Freak

Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, And Obsession In The World Of Competitive Scrabble Players

Book - 2001
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Stefan Fatsis, a Wall Street Journal reporter and National Public Radio regular, recounts his remarkable rise through the ranks of elite Scrabble players while exploring the game's strange, potent hold over them -- and him.
Scrabble might truly be called America's game. More than two million sets are sold every year and at least thirty million American homes have one. But the game's most talented competitors inhabit a sphere far removed from the masses of "living room players." Theirs is a surprisingly diverse subculture whose stars include a vitamin-popping standup comic; a former bank teller whose intestinal troubles earn him the nickname "G.I. Joel"; a burly, unemployed African American from Baltimore's inner city; the three-time national champion who plays according to Zen principles; and Fatsis himself, who we see transformed from a curious reporter to a confirmed Scrabble nut.
He begins by haunting the gritty corner of a Greenwich Village park where pickup Scrabble games can be found whenever weather permits. His curiosity soon morphs into compulsion, as he sets about memorizing thousands of obscure words and fills his evenings with solo Scrabble played on his living room floor. Before long he finds himself at tournaments socializing -- and competing -- with Scrabble's elite.
But this book is about more than hardcore Scrabblers, for the game yields insights into realms as disparate as linguistics, psychology, and mathematics. WORD FREAK extends its reach even further, pondering the light Scrabble throws on such notions as brilliance, memory, competition, failure, and hope. It is a geography of obsession that celebrates the uncanny powers locked in all of us.
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001
ISBN: 9780618015849
0618015841
Branch Call Number: 793.734
Characteristics: x, 372 pages :,illustrations ;,24 cm

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Cynthia_N Mar 08, 2017

Fun read but it made me realize I do not have the dedication to become a Word Freak!

diesellibrarian Dec 12, 2011

Sports writer Stephen Fatsis sets out to cover the world of elite Scrabble. He quickly becomes enamoured with the game and, under the guise of writing the book, gives himself over to a full-blown obsession. Along his journey, he digs up more than you ever wanted to know about the game, its history, and its players. While Scrabble nuts will certainly enjoy this book immensely, I felt at times that it sometimes provided a little too much detail. A more rigorous edit could have probably pared 50 pages from the text, making it that much more readable and accessible to the average reader. Still, I give Fatsis high marks for his disarming brand of gonzo journalism.

s
ssteinwedel
Nov 18, 2009

Tournament Scrabble players

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