Are his books sold outside of airports?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, the place you go when you want to feel better about your solving skills.

Well, well, well, a puzzle from Encota, who recently started appearing in t’other blog.  Welcome to the setter’s circle (of which I am not yet a member… though I do have a puzzle appearing in print very very shortly, I am assured).   After last week’s mini-novel there is a mercifully short preamble – some wordplay only clues, some that have been modified, OK.  All clues have to be modified.  OK.

Well there is a 1 across so let’s get cracking – if there’s a missing letter in the clue then it could be SEEM RED liquid leading to EMERSED.  Sounds good, let’s bung it in and call a pass on the 1 across test, woohoo!

That crosses ERS, which means that either the M or P from EMPRISE needs to be removed.  Hmm… two M’s?  Can we make a third?  3 down is EAR which means we lose an M from MORGAN.  OK, looks like we are adding or removing an M from clues.

This gets me a long way through the grid, knowing that M’s have to come or go (I particularly liked GRIM MACE becoming GRIMACE in the clue for MOUE), but I was struggling with the thematic parts – I had MATTER without a definition, but 14 across looked like maybe something DETAIL – SURFACE DETAIL which doesn’t mean anything, and the three unclued down entries look like gobbledygook.  Yes, I know I should have googled SURFACE DETAIL, I think I would have gotten the theme straight away.

With only two unchecked letters, 35 across eventually looked like TH?ALG?BR?IST – isn’t THE ALGEBRAIST the title of something?  It appears to be an Iain M Banks novel.

Since I travel the US frequently I spend a lot of time in airports.  Airports always have bookstores.  Bookstores always have a ton of novels by a few popular authors.  I recall the name appearing in a lot of “suggested reading for your flight” sections.  I usually do crossword puzzles or read John Barth novels on planes.

Anyhoo – I had to look up a list of his novels to find the thematic ones – STONE MOUTH, CANAL DREAMS, COMPLICITY, which went in the thematic slots.  Wikithingia tells me that the M which has been in all the clues stands for MENZIES (poor bugger, named after an Australian Prime Minister) which is in the other usual hiding spot diagonal, and we are done!

Well, almost – there’s the last letter of 6 down.  I agonized over this a while, was it MADOG or MADOC?  Finally realised that it is CODA reversed at the end.  Woohoo!

My working grid for Listener 4437, Forgotten Middle Rows by Encota

This was all finished in one fairly long sitting, and I enjoyed it, but I can’t say it inspired me to read any of his books.  I guess I’ll know for sure next time I’m on a plane (in four weeks – going to San Francisco, so it will be a long flight – whoever has the Listener that appears on March 31, hopefully it will be plane-friendly).  Game over – 100% completion!

Feel free to let me know that my lips move when I read so I shouldn’t have books on planes, and see you next week when Oyler chastises me for my inability to do division.


One Response

  1. Great blog – thanks George 🙂 And perhaps you’ll be tempted on that next flight – though noting some of his books are not for the squeamish…

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