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)

The story comes up different every time and has no ending but always begins with you.

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?

25 thoughts on “Dedications”

  1. 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?)

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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…

  5. 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.

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

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