Chick Lit

New York Times crossword March 20 / Constructed by Brendan Emmett Quigley

Oh, this will be a piece of cake, I thought after seeing the “Chick Lit” title of today’s puzzle. I’m not exactly a fan of the genre, but I figured I knew enough of the best-selling titles. So I started scouring the grid for the spot where BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY would fit. And maybe FEAR OF FLYING, too?

I wasn’t thinking literally. That became clear after I got crossing letters THE STE_____ for 39 Across (“Chick lit book #3 [1965]”) and filled in THE STEPFORD WIVES, which fit perfectly. Oops. It was THE STERILE CUCKOO (which I’ve never heard of). But that clearly told me the eight books that made up the theme were indeed “chick” lit — titles with birds.

The other books: THE PELICAN BRIEF (23 Across), UGLY DUCKLING (33 Across), SIX DAYS OF THE CONDOR (59 Across), TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (69 Across), THE MALTESE FALCON (87 Across), LONESOME DOVE (95 Across) and WHERE EAGLES DARE (109 Across).

If you were looking for the figurative chick lit, the closest you would come in this puzzle is the reference in 101 Across to Carrie Bradshaw & Co.: GAL PALS (“Group in ‘Sex and the City,’ e.g.”).

Hometown Reference of the Day Dept.: “Philadelphia’s ___ Whitman Bridge” is WALT (105 Across). It spans the Delaware River to link South Philly with Gloucester City, N.J., which is kind of ironic because our other (prettier!) bridge, the Ben Franklin, links Philly with Camden, N.J., where Whitman lived and is buried.

No River Too Short Dept.: Speaking of rivers, I thought it was funny that “Italy’s longest river” (25 Across) is THE PO. Obviously “Po” by itself wouldn’t cut it since it only has two letters.

Hot in the City Dept.: “Flame, e.g.” (72 Down) is an NHL-ER, as in someone who plays for the Calgary Flames hockey team.

Learn Something New Every Day Dept.: “Spread, as rumors” (116 Across) is BRUITED, a word I’ve never heard of but got through all the crossing words.

Technical Difficulties Dept.: My Twitter feed @crosswordkathy is experiencing some problems but I hope to have it back on line very soon! In the meantime, I’m tweeting from @kmatheson. Thanks for your patience!

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