Today’s puzzle is an example of art imitating life … or rather, a piece of art I wrote for something else in my life. I’m giving a talk today at 1 p.m. Eastern time at the Edgar Allan Poe house in Philadelphia about Poe, his fascination with puzzles and cryptograms and some fun ways that crosswords have incorporated him over the years. I don’t yet know if there will be audio or video of this talk available, but I’ll update you if there is.

In this enlarged puzzle (21x25 squares), thirteen book titles have had one letter deleted, creating wacky new titles:

  • 23A: [Stephen King work about a paternity ward?] is THE DAD ZONE, based on The Dead Zone.
  • 28A: [Dante Alighieri work about a godlike former FBI director named James?] is THE DIVINE COMEY. The Divine Comedy.
  • 36A: [Frances Hodgson Burnett work about someone in actress Eve’s family whom no one has ever heard of?] is THE SECRET ARDEN. The Secret Garden.
  • 50A: [William Makepeace Thackeray work about a holiday tree that makes people conceited?] is VANITY FIR. Vanity Fair.
  • 52A: [Kazuo Ishiguro work about your demand to actress Campbell to free you?] is NEVE LET Maine GO. Never Let Me Go.
  • 70A: [Lisa Genova work about cooties that don’t move?] is STILL LICE. Still Alice.
  • 81A: [Anna Sewell work about the loveliness of one’s posterior body surface?] is BACK BEAUTY. Black Beauty.
  • 83A: [Truman Capote work about being drenched with the vital fluids of fish-and-chips fish?] is IN COD BLOOD. In Cold Blood.
  • 92A: [Andy Weir work about a guy who shares actor Sheen’s name (and no one else does)?] is THE MARTIN. The Martian.
  • 112A: [Ralph Ellison work about a mother you can’t see?] is INVISIBLE MA. Invisible Man.
  • 115A: [Tina Fey work about dictatorial queens of small colonies?] is BOSSY ANTS. Bossypants.
  • 125A: [Charles Dickens work about astronomer Sagan dressing up as Santa?] is A CHRISTMAS CARL. A Christmas Carol.
  • 133A: [Joseph Conrad work about an evil deer?] is HART OF DARKNESS. Heart of Darkness.

The revealer clue at 146A: [Work such as “The Purloined Letter” (whose author’s name is spelled out by this puzzle’s purloined letters)] spells out what’s going on. The answer there is SHORT STORY, but if you take the deleted letters from the book titles, they spell out EDGAR ALLAN POE, who wrote many short stories himself.

There is a lot of theme material, to be sure — a result of using Poe’s full name spelled out from the “purloined” letters. But some of these titles really amused me, like “The Dad Zone” and “A Christmas Carl.” I’d read those.

Be warned that next week’s puzzle is going to be a challenging one. Hopefully it doesn’t spook you too much!