Well, I say my book, but in reality it was a group effort consisting of more than 100 people (Eugene Mirman, Kristen Schaal, Ken Jennings, Alice Bradley) who allowed me to quote their jokes. And, by quote, I mean render them virtually incomprehensible.
Here’s how it works. Every puzzle is a code to be cracked. One letter stands for another, but a letter never stands for itself. Using clues like single-letter words, contractions, double letters, and other letter patterns, you start by making educated guesses about what each letter might be. Letter by letter, word by word, you figure out the entire code—and reveal the hilarious punch line.
The puzzles in Twitterati Cryptograms are based on old-school newspaper cryptograms, cryptoquotes, and cryptoquips. You know, the lines of gibberish you’d find in the comics section over by the crossword puzzle. I love those things. I remember cracking my first code in high school. I was volunteering as a candy striper at the local hospital (boy, does that date me—do they still have candy stripers?). I’d deliver mail and flowers to the patients in my candy-cane-striped smock. I guess it was a slow day because I spent a good half hour to 45 minutes trying to figure out how to solve the damned thing in the Boston Herald that was sitting right there on the desk. It seemed impossible, but I refused to give up, trying different strategies until I finally solved it. The joke was slightly lame, but I didn’t care. I figured it out. I was hooked. From then on, all mail and flower deliveries were a good half hour to 45 minutes behind schedule.
Fast forward 20 years. I was back to spending an awful lot of time in hospitals, this time as a patient. Husband brought me a bunch of puzzle books to keep me busy, cryptograms chief among them. I was grateful for the distraction. The jokes were still slightly lame. I remember thinking: They should just get the jokes from Twitter. At 140 characters, they’re the perfect length for puzzles and then they’d actually be funny. Cue the proverbial light bulb.
It took seven years, but now the book I envisioned actually exists. It’s available now on Amazon and will follow at Barnes & Noble, indie bookstores, and hospital and airport gift shops nationwide starting April 6. I hope other people find the puzzles as challenging, entertaining, and addictive as I do.
And, yes, there is a food section. But of course!