Publishing Trade

New York Times, June 20

Well, I guess Will threw us a bone this week after last week’s doozy.

I did this puzzle in near-record time, despite having to reach for the Kleenex every two minutes because of a stubborn summer cold. Today’s theme switched (or “traded,” in the puzzle title’s parlance) a couple of letters in several well-known book names to create fun new ones. It would have been much harder without the authors’ names in the clues, especially since some of the writers only have one big book to their names.

The new book titles are JOHNNY GOT HIS GNU (“‘Carson’s Successful Safari’? [Dalton Trumbo],” 23 Across); CLOD MOUNTAIN (“‘Big Pile of Dirt’? [Charles Frazier],” 32 Across); THE RAT OF WAR (“‘Battle Backstabber’? [Sun Tzu],” 58 Across); A PREFECT SPY (“‘Secretive Student Monitor’? [John le Carre],” 70 Across); INFINITE JETS (“‘Endless Streams’? [David Foster Wallace],” 97 Across); A FAREWELL TO RAMS (“‘Football Team Leaves L.A.’? [Ernest Hemingway],” 108 Across; THE DA VINCI COED (“‘Renaissance College Girl’? [Dan Brown],” 16 Down); and LORD OF THE FILES (“‘Head Secretary’? [William Golding],” 48 Down).

Shout-Out to My Childhood Dept: “Writer who wrote ‘A bear, however hard he tries, / Grows tubby without exercise'” (36 Across) is A.A. MILNE, author of the Winnie-the-Pooh books. Pooh always made everything OK.

Shout-Out to Philadelphia Dept.: This wasn’t really a Philly shout-out, but I’m going to make it one. “You might step out to get some” (49 Down) is FRESH AIR — also the name of the terrific NPR show hosted by Terry Gross and broadcast from Philly’s own WHYY-FM.

Last Week’s Puzzle Keeps Getting Cooler Dept: The answer grid for the awesome “Flag Day” puzzle of June 13 included actual colored squares to denote the flags (see page 45 in the NYT Magazine). That’s great for people that get the Times, but somehow I think those who do the puzzle a week late (in papers that syndicate it) will not be so lucky as to see the solution in its many-hued glory. In the “Typecasting” puzzle from a couple of weeks ago, someone wrote in to this blog from Alaska to say that his/her syndicated version didn’t use any of the special fonts in the clues, negating the entire theme of the puzzle.

Questions or comments? Tweet me @crosswordkathy

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