Dedications

I love book dedications.  They are always the first thing I read in a book.  One of the kindest things anyone has ever said to me is that I taught that person to always read the dedication in a book.  This was, naturally, written inside the front cover of a book that was a gift (a book of Andre Dubus stories).

Some of my favorite dedications were between Louise Erdrich and Michael Dorris. Of course we know now that their story ended in pain, but the particular texture and intensity of their love affair is reflected in the dedications of their books. For some reason they’ve always really captured my imagination.

From Louise to Michael:
To Michael
U R Lucky 4 Me
(The Bingo Palace – the book from which the quote that names this blog is taken)

To Michael,
Complice in every word,
Essential as air.
(The Beet Queen)

Michael,
The story comes up different every time and has no ending but always begins with you.
(Tracks)

From Michael to Louise:
For Louise,
who found the song and gave me voice.
(Cloud Chamber)

For Louise,
Companion through every page, through every day. Compeer.
(Yellow Raft in Blue Water)

I love other dedications, like Fitzgerald’s simple and ineffably moving “Once again to Zelda” in The Great Gatsby.

Do you read dedications?  Who would you dedicate a book to?


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13 Comments

  1. Posted February 17, 2014 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    Yes! I do read the ones in children’s books especially. Love that tiny glimpse into a writer’s world and understanding the “who” of their motivation. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a book compiling the best dedications? (Maybe there is?)

    admin Reply:

    I bet there is … would be so fascinating!

  2. Posted February 17, 2014 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    I love reading dedications and acknowledgements! I love knowing who has influenced and shaped the writer…

    admin Reply:

    Me too. xoxo

  3. Posted February 17, 2014 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    I do! And I was lucky enough to get to write my own dedications when my educational books were published. Honestly, I fretted for days on how to word them! For the first one for my husband, I didn’t tell him until it came out, so he was very moved.

    admin Reply:

    Oh, that’s awesome. It brings tears to my eyes to think of that. How wonderful.

  4. Posted February 17, 2014 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    I love to read dedications AND acknowledgements:)!

    admin Reply:

    Me too! xox

  5. Posted February 17, 2014 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    I always read them too! I love when they seem puzzling before reading the book, and then after reading it, I understand and smile.

    admin Reply:

    Yes, totally. I love it. xo

  6. Posted February 17, 2014 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    OMG, yes. My favorite of all time is Steinbeck’s East of Eden. xo

    admin Reply:

    I must go check that one out right now.

  7. Posted February 17, 2014 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I usually read the acknowledgements first, and then the dedication, and then the book. I agree, dedications are very alluring. xo

    admin Reply:

    They really are. xox

  8. Posted February 17, 2014 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I love reading dedications in books! It’s like a little glimpse into a writer’s interior world, even more so than their fiction… I hope one day to publish a novel (more than one would be nice, ha) and I look forward to writing my own. What a dream that would be!
    -Dana

    admin Reply:

    That’s my dream too! :) xoxo

  9. Posted February 17, 2014 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    I love dedications too! And I agree that they are often like a puzzle to solve as you read the book- I love that part of them! And I adore the ones you have put above. Almost like an ongoing love letter…

    admin Reply:

    Yes – totally. A dialog between them …

  10. Posted February 18, 2014 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    I do, of course I do. They’re a personal note that we’re privy to. Love this.

    admin Reply:

    Love. xox

  11. Posted February 18, 2014 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Yes! I love the dedications. I love getting a glimpse of the writer before I read.

    admin Reply:

    Isn’t it great?

  12. Posted February 18, 2014 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Elizabeth Strout’s dedication to her mom in Olive Kittridge is a touching ode: “For My Mother, who can make life magical, and is the best storyteller I know.” I long to be the mother who might deserve that sort of accolade!

    If I were to dedicate a book to my mom (let’s not dwell on what it would take to produce a publishable book!), it would be more along the lines of “for being the person who told me never to spoil a good story with the truth.”

    One more that is so very revealing: Meg Wolitzer’s, from The Interestings: “For my parents, who sent me there, And for Martha Parker, whom I met there.” Ah, that explains so much.

    admin Reply:

    Oh I love this – I should have asked, “what is your favorite dedication.” These are so excellent.

  13. Posted February 21, 2014 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    So glad you shared that series of exchanges as I’ve never seen them before. I love reading the dedications and the acknowledgement pages!