Word Freak
Stefan Fatsis
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Get *Word Freak* delivered to your door! Word Freak:
Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble
Stefan Fatsis
Houghton Mifflin
July 2001
384 pages
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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In the dictionary, scrabble is defined as "to scratch or grope about frantically with the hands or to make a quick untidy jotting or markings". To most denizens of North America and Britain, mention "Scrabble" and they'll know you're talking about the board game.

Curled Up With a Good BookFor many people talk of Scrabble® brings to mind old times with the family around the dining room table or on the card table in the living room, perhaps nights spent with friends in a college dorm room or while on vacation. Stefan Fatsis, however, got his interest piqued to explore the competitive world of Scrabble® through a Sports Illustrated article. This Wall Street Journal reporter decided to take his interest and turn it into a book. That decision led Fatsis to a strange and convoluted path of self-discovery and obsession; as Fatsis learns more about the game and the people who make playing it a career, he learns more about himself.

Much of Word Freak is dedicated to words -- any one who ever thought about becoming a linguistic specialist will love this book. Those who don't have a linguistic interest can just skip through the technical parts and still enjoy this book.

The quality of the prose and its presentation in Word Freak is excellent: it's obvious that a sharp-minded editor gave this book one or twelve glances before it hit the presses. You won't find yourself having to correct the grammar or remove unnecessary phrases while reading (it helps that Fatsis is a writer by trade himself). There is a natural flow and symmetry to Fatsis’ writing. Even though things skip around quite a bit between techie notes, Scrabble® trivia and the lives of Scrabbleholics, everything still makes sense.

For those who love the game of Scrabble® and even for those who don't this is a great read. You’ll come away with lots of new words to add to your vocabulary (from Aargh to Zymosan) and with a new respect for the people who make this game their life.

© 2001 by Kim Lightfoot for Curled Up With a Good Book

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