Some cool dedications …

Alicia BessetteI recently emailed my editor the SIMPLY FROM SCRATCH dedication, but I won’t reveal it here and now, eight months before you can hold the book in your hands. I like to imagine readers cracking it open for the very first time, turning the first few pages, and absorbing the dedication as part of the book itself.

I’m reminded of the scene in Annie Hall when Annie and Alvy arrive late for a movie, and Alvy refuses to go in, insisting that a film starts with the opening credits, which they’ve missed. For me, a book dedication is like the opening credits.

Here’s another analogy: If opening a book is getting settled in a rowboat, then the dedication is the first little push, the first oar-stroke that propels the boat from shore. Well, maybe not always, but sometimes, with some books.

Then again, it can be illuminating to consider dedications on their own. Sometimes they lend the ensuing story an extra layer of meaning; sometimes they carry their own weight and power.

Here are a few cool ones:

From Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts: “For Dennis, who trusts the truth of miracle and magic.”

From Sula by Toni Morrison: “It is sheer good fortune to miss somebody long before they leave you. This book is for Ford and Slade, whom I miss although they have not left me.”

From The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe:

“My Dear Lucy,

I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand, a word you say, but I shall still be

your affectionate Godfather,

C.S. Lewis”

What’s your favorite book dedication?

~Alicia Bessette

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23 thoughts on “Some cool dedications …

  1. I’m intrigued! I don’t have a favorite dedication, but I love the ones you mention. The C.S. Lewis one is lovely.

  2. One other one I liked –
    From When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops by George Carlin:
    “This book is dedicated to my amazing daughter, Kelly: keeper of the sacred DNA, citizen of the universe, and one of America’s few really good Buddhist poker players.”

  3. I seem to remember really liking the dedication in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST, but I can’t find my copy just now … something about a dragon lair? Can anyone confirm this?

  4. Alicia was definitely the reason for my publication season. However, TSLP dedication is actually an inside joke that I will explain now right here on The Debutante Ball. A DB exclusive! At one point, the TSLP’s odd protagonist takes his even odder date out to the diner and the joke is that they only order one bowl of Raisin Bran. But when Alicia proofed the manu for me, she discovered that I kept spelling Raisin Bran like this: ‘Raison Bran.’ Of course, Alicia, being of haughty French (Canadian) ancestry, would mock me as if she were some Frenchman in a Monty Python medieval castle. “Un hah hah, they eat zee raze-un bran!’ So it was a little bit of a pun that celebrates my lifelong battle with spelling and the spousal dependency it creates. We’ll always have spelling.

    Favorite dedication. From one of the best and most underrated books of all time, Kurt Vonnegut’s GOD BLESS YOU, MR. ROSEWATER:

    For Alvin Davis, the telepath, the hoodlums’ friend

  5. Until my brother comes home, this will be the dedication that means the most to me. Please forgive me that it’s for my own collection of short stories. My brother, Earl Gutierrez has been missing for 21 years now. He was on his way home from a 12 year, single-handed sailing trip around the world. I hope that he is alive somewhere. Here it is:

    This book is dedicated to my brother, Earl, who walks alone, humming an unknown song.

  6. I’ve never dedicated a book but I did dedicate my 2nd grad thesis “To my resident nagger.” Without this person, constantly on my back to finish my thesis, I would only have two grad degrees instead of three. It got so bad I wouldn’t answer my phone, if I hadn’t written something that day. Here’s to you Dr. Abbie. May you rest in peace.

  7. I couldn’t think of any specific dedication, but I just got my hands on my pal’s new book, THE GIANT-SLAYER by Iain Lawrence, so I cracked it open to see what he had to say. It says. “For Mom – I miss you.”

    My mum’s still alive and well, but lives a ways away and I have to say this sent a pang through me!

  8. Well, the C.S. Lewis dedication, Matthew’s, and Greg’s, all nearly made me cry. Thank you, Alicia, for this terrific post.

    Honestly, I never read dedications until I’d written one myself. Look at all I was missing!

  9. You are all very kind. When he knocks on my door I will say, “I knew you were coming home. I saved all of your books and charts for you, Earl, Earl, the black pearl.”

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  11. i always feel like dedications are too personal for me and so I skip them. it’s like driving past someone’s house and wanting to look in the windows. so, basically, all of you are creepy window peepers.

  12. So profound, Alicia! I think if a dedication makes me cry or at least brings out the warm tinglies, I know I’m going to love the book. I agree, the dedication really sets things up for me. Some that I’ve read recently:

    “For children everywhere. And for my teachers…” Push by Sapphire (she then goes on to list her teachers)

    “To the brave women of Haiti, grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters, cousins, daughters, and friends, on this shore and other shores. We have stumbled but we will not fall.” Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidege Danticat

    This post is for Greg…may you keep the dream of welcoming your brother home alive and well.

  13. Thank you Heather. You would think I would miss him less as times goes by, but somehow I miss him more. But I know he would want me to laugh when I think of him.

    best,

    greg

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