When Dedications Leave Something to Be Desired

How authors dedicate books tells us a lot about them as writers and as people. Often books are dedicated to children, loved ones, or dogs. On rarer occasions, however, authors use the dedication section of books to make a wry joke, sneer at someone who doubted them, or twist a knife. Because these comments can be darkly humorous, I had to share a few of them.


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Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

“Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR.”

Chris Colfer, The Land of Stories

“To grandma, for being my first editor and giving me the best writing advice I’ve ever received: “Christopher, I think you should wait until you’re done with elementary school before worrying about being a failed writer.””

Tad Williams, Otherland, Vol. 1-5

Tad Otherland.jpgVol 1: “This Book is dedicated to my father Joseph Hill Evans with love. Actually Dad doesn’t read fiction, so if someone doesn’t tell him about this, he’ll never know.”

Vol. 2: “This Book is dedicated to my father Joseph Hill Evans with love. As I said before, Dad doesn’t read fiction. He still hasn’t noticed that this thing is dedicated to him. This is Volume Two – let’s see how many more until he catches on.”

Vol. 3: “This is still dedicated to you-know-who, even if he doesn’t. Maybe we can keep this a secret all the way to the final volume.”

Vol. 4: “My father still hasn’t actually cracked any of the books – so, no, he still hasn’t noticed. I think I’m just going to have to tell him. Maybe I should break it to him gently.

Vol. 5: “Everyone here who hasn’t had a book dedicated to them, take three steps forward. Whoops, Dad, hang on there for a second…”

Dan Wells, Ruins

“This book is dedicated to everybody you hate. Sorry. Life’s like that sometimes.”

Lowell Edmunds, Silver Bullet: The Martini in American Civilization

“I should like to blame the editors of Notes and Queries for rejecting the extremely concise and dignified query on the Martini I sent them and I should also like to blame the editor of the New York Times Book Review for failing to print my author’s query. May these editors find that their gin has turned to gasoline or may they drink too many Martinis and then swallow a toothpick, as Sherwood Anderson is said to have done.”

Jenny Lawson, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

Lets Pretend this never happened.jpg“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.”

Joseph J. Rotman, An Introduction to Algebraic Topology

“To my wife Marganit
and my children Ella Rose and Daniel Adam
without whom this book would have
been completed two years earlier.”

Alfie Kohn, No Contest: The Case Against Competition

“Let me note, finally, that most of the research for this book was done in the libraries of Harvard University, the size of whose holdings is matched only by the school’s determination to restrict access to them. I am delighted to have been able to use these resources, and it hardly matters that I was afforded this privilege only because the school thought I was someone else.”


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I fear that my dedications are mundane little creatures, but I appreciate when authors get creative with them. If you have stumbled across any other interesting dedications or have plotted an Earth-shattering dedication of your own, let me know.

33 thoughts on “When Dedications Leave Something to Be Desired

      1. Himself roared with laughter at the notion of poor Tad Williams patiently waiting for his father to so much as open the title page to see the dedication… I know the feeling – my mother never reads my work as she doesn’t like all that weird stuff I write. But that’s fine:). She is still very supportive of my desire to write.

        Liked by 1 person

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