Stephan Fatsis doesn’t just write books. He immerses himself within the culture he is writing about. In 2001 he tried out for the Detroit Lions and wrote about it in “A Few Seconds Of Panic”. Then, in 2000, he entered the world of competitive SCRABBLE to write “Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, And Obsession In The World Of Competitive SCRABBLE Players”.
The people that populate this book are bizarre creatures, more so than any Tolkien tome. But unlike the “Lord Of The Rings” trilogy all these creatures are real. One of the “stars” is “G.I.” Joel Sherman, a Woody Allen-like man who runs the Manhattan Scrabble Club and is always dealing with one medical issue or another (the “G.I.” stands for gastrointestinal).
Stephan gets involved with these wordsmiths and goes from being a casual SCRABBLE player to being ranked 180th in North America. And while you laugh (or cry) at the personal lives of these people who are so dedicated to a board game you do actually pick up strategy.
It’s a fascinating read into a world that many people don’t even know exists.