Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Dedication dilemmas

By Edward Docx in The Daily Telegraph.
There are some novelists who will tell you that it's the characters or the plot that cause all the trouble, or the research, or the pacing, or managing point of view, or controlling tone; but you would do better not to believe them. All of these are exasperating. But the thing that really screws you up is the dedication.

The book may be good, bad or both, but once it is finished you can dodge it, stand by it, disown it, move on, say you did or didn't mean it, point out that you made it up, insist that it has nothing to do with you or anything that has happened in the past. The dedication, on the other hand, is where you have to say exactly what you mean. The dedication is where you can balls up the rest of your life.
Docx gives some great examples, including this by J.D. Salinger for Franny and Zooey:
"As nearly as possible in the spirit of Matthew Salinger, age one, urging a luncheon companion to accept a cool lima bean, I urge my editor, mentor and (heaven help him) closest friend, William Shawn... lover of the long shot, protector of the unprolific, defender of the hopelessly flamboyant... to accept this pretty skimpy-looking book."

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