101 Two-Letter Words Gathers Last-Ditch Scrabble Words in Fun Illustrated Poems

Now we know what happens when a rock star and a New Yorker cartoonist get together to publish a book.

101 two-letter-words scrabble poems stephin merritt roz chast

From 101 Two-Letter Words by Stephin Merritt, Illustrated by Roz Chast / W. W. Norton

Yo. Step aside, Underwater Puppies. There’s a new coffee table book in town.

Stephin Merritt—yes, of the Magnetic Fields—just released a new book called 101 Two-Letter Words, a slightly larger than pocket-size collection of two-letter words playable in that pissah of a game Scrabble.

The book is more than 200 pages, but only because every spread is dedicated to its own two-letter word. On one side, you’ll find a short poem that Merritt wrote incorporating it. On the other, you’ll see an illustration by Roz Chast, whose work has appeared in the New Yorker since the 1970s.

Ah, so now we know what happens when a rock star and a New Yorker cartoonist get together to publish a book.

In his introduction to 101 Two-Letter Words, Merritt explains that the idea came about when he started playing Scrabble and Words with Friends to pass the time while waiting around in airports and hotels.

To help him remember all the two-letter words, Merritt started writing short poems as mnemonic devices. Add expertly crafted illustrations from Chast and high-quality binding from W. W. Norton and voila—your new favorite coffee table read, perfect for cool-weather perusing as autumn sets in.

True, you probably won’t be able to memorize all 101 two-letter words in Merritt’s book, but—unless you’re already the jerk who wins every time—even remembering a few of these should give you a leg up against your ultimate Scrabble nemesis.


Stephin Merritt will discuss 101 Two-Letter Words at a signing at Brattle Theatre on Wednesday, October 1, 6 p.m. The event is hosted by Harvard Book Store and co-sponsored by 826 Boston. Visit harvard.com for tickets and more info.