Listener No. 4331: Conduit by Loda
Posted by Dave Hennings on 20 February 2015
It has been over four years since Loda’s last Listener with Christopher Isherwood’s “I am a camera” theme. This week, there was a grid which reminded me of one of Leon’s old card patience puzzles, except here we had enough cells for three packs of cards. Eight names in the grid were to be entered without one letter and these would be slotted into empty squares at the end. Correct letters of misprints in the clues would spell out eight relevant titles.
I started off by trying to crack the clues with nice obvious misprints. Of course, there were always those that were somewhat devious and just masquerading as obvious. I include among those the straightforward 3 Cite radio talent shows (4) which looked for all the world to require the name of a city (rather than mite IOTA), and 4b where ‘a place for misers’ should have been a ‘place for miners’ rather than ‘a place for risers’ (STAIRWELL).
Next was to crack the remaining tricky clues… which turned out to be most of them. The clues I had already solved were predominantly in the top half of the grid, and it seemed logical to work my way downwards. It was hard work. Finally solving 4b, reversed in the top row, enabled me to see George [O]RWELL as my first author and a short while later, Animal Farm was available from the corrections to misprints.
So, we had authors in the grid and one of their works from the clues. What could be simpler?! Well… Enid BLYTON and Noddy for a start. As it was, that sneaky S by John UPDIKE needed me to find the author before I pounced on his one-letter novel which was followed by Miriam, rather than trying to find a book about Smirnov vodka! Another non-existent novel that I looked for was Something and the something.
As it was, S and Animal Farm were the only novels I had heard of. Luckily (and slowly), I managed to tease the authors out of the grid and fill in the gaps in their novels provided by the clues. I had:
- Eric [A]MBLER’s Skytip
- John [B]RAINE’s The Vodi(!)
- Trueman CAPOT[E]’s Miriam
- Joseph HELLE[R]’s God Knows
- Aldous HUXLE[Y]’s Island
- George [O]RWELL’s Animal Farm
- John UPDI[K]E’s S
That left one to go, and the letters I had to arrange for the theme were A, B, E, R, Y, O, K. It didn’t take me long to see that YEARBOOK was the answer, and with George Orwell’s 1984 it seemed possible that they had all written books with years in the title.
Of course that turned out to be rubbish.
Perhaps they were all recipients of one of the top literary awards. Yes, that seemed more likely, but try as I might, the Nobel, Booker and Pulitzer prizes didn’t seem to help me. Plus I still had to find an author staring with the W at 38 and missing the letter O, and that was proving difficult.
When I finally got 46 PLANERS across the bottom of the grid (yes, it took me ages to get that), WIL[D]ER seemed to be the likely author — with a missing D not O — but I thought Thornton Wilder was mainly a playwright. So he was, and that pesky play Youth, given by the last five clues’ misprints, finally enabled me to finish the grid, identify the KEYBOARD theme, and slot those letters into the remaining eight empty cells. Of course, I should have realised sooner that the “helpful order” given in the preamble meant that the theme was spelt by the letters dropped from the author’s in the order of their titles.
It was a nice PDM which I hadn’t seen coming, despite QWERTYUIOP trying to appear across the centre for some time. (Unlucky those of you with AZERTY or other keyboards!) All in all this took most of Monday to complete and I was exhausted!
So thanks to Loda for a good theme, a tough grid and some fine clues. Hiding the authors in the grid was a clever idea, but the use of such obscure titles made this a bit of a slog. Information given by extra letters or misprints is supposed to help… here they almost seemed designed to hinder! Not my cup of tea, I’m afraid… sorry, Loda. I hope others enjoyed it more.