8-8-88 The Beginning

At the beginning of a book, usually right before or after the title page, the reader often discovers a dedication.

In literature, a dedication, sometimes called a dedicatory epistle, is included by an author to express appreciation for someone who helped with the writing endeavor. Other times writers use the dedication to profess their endless love for someone who is important in their life. The last time I read a book dedicated to the “love of my life,” the couple had divorced by the time the book reached the top of my to-read list.

Never skip dedications. They may be better than the books.

I’ve read funny dedications:

Joseph J. Rotman
To My Wife Marginit
and my children Ella Rose and Daniel Adam
without whom this book would
have been completed two years earlier

Shannon Hale
For Colin Firth: You’re a really great guy, but I’m married so I think we should just be friends.

Spiteful dedications:

Jenny Lawson
I want to thank everyone who helped me create this book, except for that guy who   yelled at me in Kmart when I was eight because he thought I was being “too rowdy.”
You’re an asshole, sir.

Serious dedications:

Jack Kerouac
Dedicated to America, whatever that is.

Romantic (I think) dedications:

Lemony Snicket
For Beatrice –
I cherished, you perished.
The world’s been nightmarished.

Carl Sagan
In the vastness of space and immensity of time, it is my joy to spend a planet and an epoch with Annie.

Gillian Flynn, author of Dark Places
What can I say about a man who knows how I think and still sleeps next to me with the lights off?

and snarky dedications:

Pedram Amini
I dedicate this book to George W. Bush, my Commander-in- Chief, whose impressive career advancement despite remedial language skills inspired me to believe that I was capable of authoring a book.

e.e.cummings
No thanks
Farrar & Rinehart
Simon & Schuster
Coward-McCann
Limited Editions
Harcourt, Brace
Random House
Equinox Press
Smith & Haas
Viking Press
Knopf
Dutton
Harper’s
Scribner’s
Covici-Freide

Dedicatory epistles fascinate me. All are brief and sometimes I have to guess at the author’s meaning and the context in which she wrote it. They may become a writing prompt that has me imagining an entire story. At the very least, dedications provide a few seconds of procrastination before getting to the serious business of reading the book.

The dedications to my books are not particularly creative, but they enjoy a common thread. In our bedroom I have a framed cross stitch, the only needlework I ever attempted. When artistic and craft talents were handed out, I decided the line was too long and skipped out for chocolate ice cream.

In PILZ, the dedication mimicked the cross stitch:

For Bob Royce
8-8-88, a day of new beginnings.

In Ardent Spirit, I was wordier:

For Bob
Without your constant support as I worked in front of a computer for hours, days, months and years, this book would not exist. I will always be grateful for the blind date of 8/8/88.

I’m posting a day early this week in honor of the twenty-nine years that have passed since 8-8-88.

Starting next week, I’ll tell you about 8-8-88. My version of a love story.

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