WORD NERD by John D. Williams, Jr.


Dispatches from the Games, Grammar, and Geek Underground
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The co-author of the bestselling Everything SCRABBLE© returns with a motley collection of anecdotes, advice, and autobiography—all relating, more or less, to the game he loves.

Williams’ text follows his decades of experience as executive director of the National SCRABBLE Association, a tenure that ended recently due, in part, to the profound changes in the landscape of the gaming world. There is a little bit of everything here, including an appendix of proscribed game words (the naughty, the insulting), a mildly ranting chapter about grammar and usage, and a chapter that includes advice on how to tell someone that he or she has committed a solecism. Williams tells us a bit about his own playing career—he had early success, then quit studying so much and fell from grace—and about his joining the SCRABBLE team with owner Hasbro Inc. He relates stories about the spread of the competitive game, even into schools. Middle school, he and his team discover, is the best level. (A high school kid once called him a dork.) There is a dull chapter about adult championships, and there are some near-fawning chapters about the author’s experiences with TV and movie celebrities. (Actor Jack Black is a devoted player; on his show, Jimmy Kimmel played against scholastic champions; the producers of the 2001 film The Wedding Planner ignored his counsel.) Williams also tells about declining an appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart because he feared an ambush, and he includes an awkward section about why men/boys seem to win all the championships. The author chronicles his interviews with some top women players, who, unfortunately, don’t shed much light on this issue. Williams takes a few pokes at some of the Hasbro executives he worked for (he also praises many others) and seems quite happy that his appearance on an episode of Martha Stewart’s show is still on YouTube.

An average game with no triple word scores.

Pub Date: June 22nd, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-87140-773-3
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Liveright/Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2015


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