Word

Tom Brokaw, E.L. Doctorow, Calvin Trillin, Wendy Wasserstein, Pete Hamill, Martin Scorsese, Doris Kearns Goodwin, David Halberstam and Will Shortz.

If that was a clue — a long one — in a New York Times crossword puzzle, the answer would be:

Westport Library honorees.

The list is broad and diverse:  authors, historians, a TV newsman, a playwright, a film director.

On Thursday, May 27, the Library adds “crossword puzzle editor” to the list.

Will Shortz

Like previous “Booked for the Evening” honorees, Shortz loves words and language.  His forte is unique — games — but he is adored by millions of Americans for the joy he takes in puns, puzzles and wordplay.

He is sui generis — the only person in the world with a degree in enigmatology (“the study of puzzles”).  He also earned a law degree from the University of Virginia, a factoid that must delight hard-core fans (and puzzle his parents).

Shortz — who in his spare time is puzzlemaster for NPR’s “Weekend Edition Sunday” — has a long relationship with libraries in general, and Westport’s in particular.

Though he amassed many reference works in his Pleasantville, NY home — from the OED to specialized works covering opera, poetry, art, baseball, whatever — and he now uses the internet for most research, Shortz still frequents his local library.  He considers it “a friend, a place I can use whenever I want.”

In 2001 he agreed to provide puzzles for the Westport Library’s 1st crossword championship.  Ten years later, he’s still at it.  The “great time and great people” keep drawing him back.

On May 27, Shortz will talk a bit, then play interactive word games with the Westporters honoring him.  “We’ll test people,” he says.  “We’ll have fun.”

And if he were to clue “Westport” into a puzzle?

On a Monday, he says, it might be basic:  “Connecticut town on Long Island Sound.”

For a Saturday, though, he’d “find a fact that would be interesting to many people, but not well known. You’d need a lot of crossing letters to solve it.”

Sort of like:  Town whose library honored a puzzlemaster in 2010.

(Click here for tickets to the Westport Public Library’s “Booked for the Evening” benefit event.)

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