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Araucaria in book form,
This review is from: The Guardian Monkey Puzzles (Paperback)
This is the first collection of GUARDIAN crossword puzzles by one individual compiler to be published in book form. Araucaria has been compiling for the GUARDIAN for 45 years, and the book is a splendid and fitting tribute to the prolific output of "Britain's master compiler" who is "an institution in his own right", as the blurb says.
All 100 puzzles have, of course, appeared in the "GUARDIAN", but the collection goes right back to the very start, as Araucaria's first puzzle to be published-- in 1958 -- appears as the first in the collection.
It is a pity that dates of publication do not accompany any other puzzles, as it would have been interesting for solvers to trace the deveelopment of Araucaia's cluing style and stunning word-play and originality of themes over the years.
There are nine Alphabetical Jigsaws in the collection, including one based on the Greek alphabet; another includes a theme to all the Across solutions, and others have clues in rhyming couplets.
Many of the other puzzles are thematic. The broad spectrum of themes and audacious approaches to their presentation are fully reflected in the collection. A few puzzles have peculiar titles, such as "Bald-patch Bess", or cryptic preambles like "F has the same meaning throughout", another is entitled "Hidden Anagram Pairs".
Within the puzzles, the clues themselves reveal Araucaria's devilry time and time again. Cross-references to an individual clue-number throughout the puzzle necessitate the solver first discovering a theme (Puzzle 46); puzzle 38 was compiled for Valentine's Day, one year; puzzle 34 has each Across clue beginning with the word "Sport"; whilst puzzle 2 refers to the days of the week in each Across clue.
Pride of place must be the real tour-de-force at puzzle 80. The preamble reads "A univocalic crossword; the solutions are like the clues". The sheer audacity demonstrated here makes puzzle 83 seem "Plain" in comparison!!!
These 100 puzzles bear excellent testimony to Araucaria's creative genius. My only slight regret is that the collection lacks a preface in which Araucaria's contribution to and eminence within the development and history of British cryptic puzzles could have been discussed at length. This is a golden opportunity missed, as no other crossword collection of GUARDIAN puzzles has ever been devoted to a single compiler.
Noentheless this collection is a fine tribute to the country's most inventive and productive compiler. It is a privilege for solvers to be able to enjoy Araucaria's puzzles again in this collection.