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Riddles of the Sphinx

Inheriting the Feminist History of the Crossword Puzzle

"As a memoir of the female body, The Riddles of the Sphinx is, by turns, intensely cerebral and sensual. As a history of wordplay, it is rigorous yet delightful. As a work of nonfiction, it is accomplished, hypnotic, and, at moments, tremendously unsettling. In revealing how femininity can turn into a monstrous ideal, Shechtman stages a serious reckoning with not just her past, but with the whole history of feminist thought." — Merve Emre, author of The Personality Brokers "A history of the crossword that is also a memoir of one woman’s dangerous attempt to solve the puzzle of her own body, The Riddles of the Sphinx takes the reader from the Algonquin Round Table to smoke-filled Parisian lecture halls, lesbian separatist marches, a contemporary crossword tournament, and an eating disorder treatment center in Paradise, Utah. Writing with intelligence, clarity, and unexpected humor, Anna Shechtman deftly weaves together the neglected histories of the women who made and make the crossword, raising urgent and fascinating questions about the politics of wordplay and the dilemma of living in language." — Christine Smallwood, author of The Life of the Mind "At once meticulously researched and beautifully written, The Riddles of the Sphinx unravels the disordered logics of those who live with anorexia and the pathologies of a society that help shape body dysmorphia in so many. Shechtman, a celebrated crossword constructor, traces the fascinating intersections between her personal history and that of the women who helped create—and sustain—the crossword puzzle craze. The result is a propulsive, necessary, and ultimately hopeful exploration—one that urgently speaks to our capacity to solve puzzles that go far beyond those on the page." — Meghan O'Rourke, author of The Invisible Kingdom "Part history, part memoir, part feminist reconsideration, it offers a sweeping overview of the American crossword puzzle over the last century, told primarily through the stories of four pioneering women who were integral to its evolution....The Riddles of the Sphinx poses questions—What kinds of intellectual work is considered worthy of our attention? What boxes have women historically been permitted to fill?—only to consistently invert and twist them. What emerges is a surprising and ambitious investigation of language and the varied ways women resist the paradoxes of patriarchy both on and off the page." — New York Times "An absorbing book debut... A forthright self-portrait and perceptive cultural critique." — Kirkus Reviews "The Riddles of the Sphinx is one of the best books of 2024, hands down, and I can’t wait for everyone else—puzzlers and laymen alike—to fall in love with it too." — Sophia Stewart, The Millions "A rigorous yet fleet-footed exploration of the crossword puzzle’s feminist legacy. . . .Throughout, Shechtman investigates how gender, race, and politics affect crosswords. . . . By turns incisive and roving, this teases out hidden connections and forgotten histories that will enthrall readers." — Publishers Weekly (starred review) "The Riddles of the Sphinx resembles the best themed crosswords: paradoxical puzzles that are simultaneously rigid and relational, entertaining and educational." — BookPage "As a gripping study sprinkled with puns and puzzles, this book encompasses the reasoning behind Shechtman’s own search for meaning while describing the constraints and histories of women who changed the narrative about wordplay. The book also soundly cracks the code for feminists puzzling over how wordplay fits into gender politics." — Library Journal (starred review) "The Riddles of the Sphinx is the best writing on crossword puzzles that I've ever read. So treat yourself. Go get it." — Rex Parker, Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword Puzzle "The book is also itself a kind of crossword, bringing together worlds that might not otherwise exist in the same place at the same time. . . . Shechtman is delightful when sly...she has a preternatural gift for perceiving perfectly placed pieces of language." — Adrienne Raphel, Los Angeles Review of Books "Meticulously researched...The Riddles of the Sphinx is an accomplishment in journalism and storytelling, allowing readers to understand how crosswords are not just black-and-white squares on a page but reminders that women, properly recognized or not, have always written history (and crossword) books." — Shelf Awareness "A book too mischievously multiform to classify…witty and rewarding…a witty and crisp stylist…Shechtman is a constructor in the best sense of the word….Her puzzles are designed to teach us. Her book, at once a celebration and demonstration of the riotousness of words, does the same." — Washington Post

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Detaljer

Forlag
HarperOne
Innbinding
Innbundet
Språk
Engelsk
Sider
288
ISBN
9780063275478
Utgivelsesår
2024
Format
23 x 15 cm

Om forfatteren

Anna Shechtman is a Klarman Fellow at Cornell University and will be an assistant professor in the Department of Literatures in English in 2024. In addition to her bimonthly crosswords for The New Yorker, she has written for a number of outlets, including ArtForum, The New Inquiry, The New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, Slate, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, where she is an editor-at-large. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Anmeldelser

"As a memoir of the female body, The Riddles of the Sphinx is, by turns, intensely cerebral and sensual. As a history of wordplay, it is rigorous yet delightful. As a work of nonfiction, it is accomplished, hypnotic, and, at moments, tremendously unsettling. In revealing how femininity can turn into a monstrous ideal, Shechtman stages a serious reckoning with not just her past, but with the whole history of feminist thought." — Merve Emre, author of The Personality Brokers "A history of the crossword that is also a memoir of one woman’s dangerous attempt to solve the puzzle of her own body, The Riddles of the Sphinx takes the reader from the Algonquin Round Table to smoke-filled Parisian lecture halls, lesbian separatist marches, a contemporary crossword tournament, and an eating disorder treatment center in Paradise, Utah. Writing with intelligence, clarity, and unexpected humor, Anna Shechtman deftly weaves together the neglected histories of the women who made and make the crossword, raising urgent and fascinating questions about the politics of wordplay and the dilemma of living in language." — Christine Smallwood, author of The Life of the Mind "At once meticulously researched and beautifully written, The Riddles of the Sphinx unravels the disordered logics of those who live with anorexia and the pathologies of a society that help shape body dysmorphia in so many. Shechtman, a celebrated crossword constructor, traces the fascinating intersections between her personal history and that of the women who helped create—and sustain—the crossword puzzle craze. The result is a propulsive, necessary, and ultimately hopeful exploration—one that urgently speaks to our capacity to solve puzzles that go far beyond those on the page." — Meghan O'Rourke, author of The Invisible Kingdom "Part history, part memoir, part feminist reconsideration, it offers a sweeping overview of the American crossword puzzle over the last century, told primarily through the stories of four pioneering women who were integral to its evolution....The Riddles of the Sphinx poses questions—What kinds of intellectual work is considered worthy of our attention? What boxes have women historically been permitted to fill?—only to consistently invert and twist them. What emerges is a surprising and ambitious investigation of language and the varied ways women resist the paradoxes of patriarchy both on and off the page." — New York Times "An absorbing book debut... A forthright self-portrait and perceptive cultural critique." — Kirkus Reviews "The Riddles of the Sphinx is one of the best books of 2024, hands down, and I can’t wait for everyone else—puzzlers and laymen alike—to fall in love with it too." — Sophia Stewart, The Millions "A rigorous yet fleet-footed exploration of the crossword puzzle’s feminist legacy. . . .Throughout, Shechtman investigates how gender, race, and politics affect crosswords. . . . By turns incisive and roving, this teases out hidden connections and forgotten histories that will enthrall readers." — Publishers Weekly (starred review) "The Riddles of the Sphinx resembles the best themed crosswords: paradoxical puzzles that are simultaneously rigid and relational, entertaining and educational." — BookPage "As a gripping study sprinkled with puns and puzzles, this book encompasses the reasoning behind Shechtman’s own search for meaning while describing the constraints and histories of women who changed the narrative about wordplay. The book also soundly cracks the code for feminists puzzling over how wordplay fits into gender politics." — Library Journal (starred review) "The Riddles of the Sphinx is the best writing on crossword puzzles that I've ever read. So treat yourself. Go get it." — Rex Parker, Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword Puzzle "The book is also itself a kind of crossword, bringing together worlds that might not otherwise exist in the same place at the same time. . . . Shechtman is delightful when sly...she has a preternatural gift for perceiving perfectly placed pieces of language." — Adrienne Raphel, Los Angeles Review of Books "Meticulously researched...The Riddles of the Sphinx is an accomplishment in journalism and storytelling, allowing readers to understand how crosswords are not just black-and-white squares on a page but reminders that women, properly recognized or not, have always written history (and crossword) books." — Shelf Awareness "A book too mischievously multiform to classify…witty and rewarding…a witty and crisp stylist…Shechtman is a constructor in the best sense of the word….Her puzzles are designed to teach us. Her book, at once a celebration and demonstration of the riotousness of words, does the same." — Washington Post

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