Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pretty Girl In Crimson Rose (8)

Sponsored Links

Sandy Balfour's Pretty Girl In Crimson Rose (8) Sandy Balfour writes in his book "Pretty Girl In Crimson Rose (8)":

A setter can only set the clue. It takes the solver to complete its meanings, and the meanings are different for each of us. The clue itself will have only one answer, but the associations that each solver can bring to that answer are as many and varied as there are solvers.

Most writings about crosswords look at the game from a standpoint of logic. "Pretty Girl In Crimson Rose (8)" stands apart for its philosophical, almost poetic view of cryptic crosswords.

The book isn't absolutely about crosswords. It is about Balfour's life, his relationships, his travels across the world, his sense of exile. He picks up the skill of solving cryptic crosswords along the way, and finds his experiences resonate through clues. Sometimes they reflect the turmoil he is going through, sometimes they trigger memories, sometimes deliver profound lessons.

The story of his life enmeshes with anecdotes about crosswords, and it's creditable that the dual narrative flows without seeming bumpy or forced.

I can see the low blue shapes of the Swartberg mountain range. It seems to me that all there is between us is distance. It is very familiar. I have been here before. I have travelled both ways along this road.

What happens in a reversal is this. Somewhere in the clue there will be an indicator…

Spread across the story are remarkable cryptic clues, some of which have acquired cult status of sorts today. A feeler:

        The real reason for the meeting of Volkswagen and Daimler (6, 6)
        Archer triumphant as storyteller (11)

You also get to know a bit about crossword setters from the UK, such as the very well-organized catalogue of clues maintained by Rufus, or Pasquale's not-too-high opinion of Araucaria's clueing technique. Conversations with setters are most entertaining, like one in a pub in which Paul and Enigmatist talk in puns.

A very unusual, beautifully written book. For crossword regulars it is one to keep.

Check out Sandy Balfour's website and the book reviews on Amazon.

A Nitpick

Sandy Balfour says:

In this respect I am a good traveller. I can discuss baseball with Americans in much the same way as I can discuss kabadi with the citizens of Bangalore, or cricket with the Australians.

Unfortunately, bringing up kabadi in a conversation with the citizens of Bangalore will only draw blank stares. To bond with people of this city, choose the same sport that you would with the Australians. Talk cricket.

Related Posts:

If you wish to keep track of further articles on Crossword Unclued, you can subscribe to it in a reader via RSS Feed. You can also subscribe by email and have articles delivered to your inbox, or follow me on twitter to get notified of new links.

27 comments

Ashok said...

Om BookStore Delhi doesn't stock this book. I went yesterday soon after reading your blog. Where can I find it in Delhi, suggestions?

Shivesh said...

Trying to get to the clued title of the book:

"Pretty Girl In Crimson Rose (8)" - RE(BELLE)D ?

Shuchi said...

Hi Ashok, The book is not available in India as far as I know. I had checked at the bookstores in Bangalore and also online last year. I got my copy from US.

You can order from Amazon UK. The international shipping charges are a little steep, if you can manage it, great. Those who order to a UK address are in luck - it's shipping free within the country currently.

Shuchi said...

Hi Shivesh, You're absolutely right about REBELLED.

There's another book by the same writer, with the name:
I say nothing (3)

What do you think that is?

Try solving the other two clues quoted from the book?

Vasana said...

Thanks for the review of the book, Shuchi. I absolutely love the title :) Looks like BN has it here in the US and am going to buy it. What the other two clues in the book, may I know? Regarding I say Nothing (3), my first reaction was Mum, but that should be wrong since the answer came to me right away :) Maybe Ego? dont tell me, please. I will keep thinking. Great blog, BTW.

Rajani said...

Hey Shuchi, The first one seems to be "HIDDEN AGENDA"?

Shuchi said...

Vasana: You're on the right track with "I say nothing", but since you forbid me, I will say nothing more :P Tell us how you like the book after you read it.

Rajani: That's right, bravo! For others who haven't cottoned on to it: the word AGENDA is HIDDEN between "VolkswAGEN DAimler".

Hint for the other clue: a story can also be a lie.

Chaturvasi said...

Vasana,
Re your Comment above I say nothing except that you know not that you know!

raghunath said...

I say nothing (3)

The ans is to combine Say and nothing, which yields the ans. I know it but will use a word that Vaasna used in her comment: MUM!

Vasana said...

OK, I give up... "One" maybe? But that does not sound right to me.

Shuchi said...

Hi Vasana, Make one more try - you've already thought of the answer! Just fit it into:
I (definition) = say + nothing

Vasana said...

Thanks Shuchi. I can only think of "ego" (eg + o) but that was shot down. What is it? I do not like, say, omission of wood(7) ;)

Shuchi said...

EGO it is! It wasn't shot down, we just didn't confirm that it's correct as you asked us not to tell :) But why were you doubtful about EGO? It fits so well into the clue, as you have aptly shown (EG+O).

Hint for your clue? Where does it start, btw - "I do not..."?

Vasana said...

OK, thanks. My clue starts at "Say" and completes the sentence "I do not like". No definition of the answer included.

Shuchi said...

What's the answer, Vasana? Can't get it.

Any guesses for:
Archer triumphant as storyteller (11)

Vasana said...

I do not line Mystery (sounds like Miss+Tree). Silly huh? I will think about the next one today.

Shuchi said...

Mystery! I might have got it if I read 'say' as a homophone indicator.

Interesting, that 'say' can mean so many different things. Probably merits a separate blog post!

Vasana said...

What's the answer for the Archer clue, Suchi? Can't get it.

Shuchi said...

Hi Vasana, A final hint for those who want to try a little more.

The definition is "storyteller". Read "Archer triumphant" as one unit, not as two independent words. As you'd have worked out, Archer isn't the author in the wordplay but the bow-n-arrow shooter. Think of something that describes an archer who's a great shot.

I'll publish the answer if it's unsolved till tomorrow. A few hours more :)

Shuchi said...

OK, no tries yet so giving out the answer to:
Archer triumphant as storyteller (11)

It's BULLSHITTER (bull's hitter).

Vasana said...

Ah! I was not even close on that... thanks!

raghunath said...

It's BULLSHITTER (bull's hitter).

Had we known this is acceptable we could have tried. Not a case of sour grapes, as not sure whether we could have still hit the bulls eye!

Shuchi said...

Hi raghunath, I agree it's not easy to solve cold, but I don't see anything unacceptable in the clue. I thought it was a great clue! What's your objection?

raghunath said...

Hi Shuchi,

Not an objection in the strict sense, but whether this particular slang is accepted in CWs. Ofcourse we come across other slang words.

Nick said...

Not sure how REBELLED can be correct, where's the definition ?

Shuchi said...

Hi Nick

The definition is 'rose', the past tense of 'rise' i.e. rebel/revolt.

Nick said...

Ah, very good, many thanks !