MGWCC #143 -- Friday, February 25th, 2011 -- LITERARY FEBRUARY PUZZLE #4 -- "Un-freaking-believable!"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 143 of my contest. If you're new to the contest and would like to enter, please see the site FAQ on the left sidebar for instructions.


113 solvers said "uncle" last week....well, they actually said Anton Chekhov's UNCLE VANYA, the classic play that served as our contest answer. These solvers noticed a pattern among the puzzle's four ten-letter theme entries:


See it? The first word of each theme entry begins with a vowel, and the second word begins with the letter following that vowel. After A, E, I and O, then, we must be looking for a "well-known literary work" with the initials U.V. Only UNCLE VANYA fits that bill, though Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano, submitted by four solvers, comes close. Leslie Wagner was one of those four, and mentions another possibility:

We liked Odds Isee and Isle Ladd for odyssey & Iliad!

Indeed there were several intriguing (and unintentional) red herring patterns in this grid. Dan Seidman mentions another one:

I thought it was Moby Dick when the initials of the first six across answers spelled out "Call me", but I couldn't find Ishmael anywhere.

Armand Van Nimmen
spotted one as well:

I know that I goofed with the “One thousand and one nights”...I wanted to point out, however, the three hints that led me to the wrong conclusion. I recognized, indeed the three main characters out of Arabian Nights in your puzzle:

1. Alibaba, of course was a first hint. This by itself was a bit too obvious.

2. The “Ladd” smack in the middle, combined with the “A” from Alibaba and the “In” from “Inigo Jones”, together with the “Lamp” and the “Light” made me recognize Aladdin. Things began to solidify, but I was not convinced yet.

3. What finally made me sure to have found the answer was that in reading “miracle” backwards I recognized “El Carim”, the famous antagonist of Sinbad!!

On another note, Barbara Friedman envisioned this production of Uncle Vanya starring me and my cat:

And finally, the great Jon Delfin claims an exotic relative:

My Uncle Vanya used to live in Upper Volta....

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 113 correct entries received, is Ed Sills of Austin, Tex. Ed has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.


78 solvers are still alive in Literary February! That's a lot of stationery, so this meta might be tough...

This week's contest answer is a six-letter literary term. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer title in the subject line of your e-mail.

To print the puzzle out, click on the image below and hit "print" on your browser. To solve using Across Lite either solve on the applet below or download the free software here, then join the Google Group (1,458 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.

Solve well, and be not led astray by words intended to deceive.

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