whatever happened to the following type of acknowledgement (the page after the cover page, but before the book begins):
To my wife
to my darling, you know who you are
quick, cute, to the point.
lately i've been running into more and more 2 page+ introductions, where the author lists every person they've ever met, and anyone who ever read their manuscript, their babysitter, their parents, their neighbors, their bank teller and their avon lady. sometimes this appears at the end of the book, maybe as an afterword. i'm one of those pissy readers who finds this rather annoying.
writers of the world, when did for my dearest Jane cease to be enough?
maybe it doesn't matter, and maybe i'm just an old fashioned snob.
May 22nd, 2007, 08:55 PM
I think it's a matter of personal preference. For some, simply "For Bob" is enough. Others feel the need to express their appreciation in a more voluminous manner.
I really don't care what any particular author chooses to do. If I don't want to read Alfred Smythe thanking the dog, the cat, the goldfish, etc., then I simply skip to the actual story. The reader can turn the pages of his own free will, fast-forward the tape, skip the track, what have you. Now, if I have to go through the main character thanking the dog, the cat, the goldfish, etc. when he becomes king, I may be less than happy.
May 22nd, 2007, 11:28 PM
I think the first type you mentioned is a dedication, which is supposed to be short and sweet. The long one is awknowledgments which is more for thanking everyone.
May 23rd, 2007, 05:35 PM
It is a trend now appearing in books that has been going on in CD's for years: see Joss Stone (http://www.jossstone.co.uk) for the latest example. (http://www.jossstone.com/thankyou/)
To be honest, I like them, but you don't have to read them. It can be a bit like peering into someone's diary/life.
May 23rd, 2007, 09:24 PM
On the Folly of Introductions
Ideally, works of fiction don’t need to be explained. When I see one of those scholarly and well-crafted essays that always seem to precede a volume of Jane Austen or Dorothy Parker, I skip it. Yes, I do. If it looks promising, I come back and read it when I’m done with the fiction. But I’d rather not know beforehand that a character is based on the author’s brother, or that the author had just been cruelly re*jected by his childhood sweetheart when he began chapter 10. I like biography; but Charlotte Bronte isn’t Jane Eyre, and Louisa Alcott isn’t Jo March, and I don’t want to be lured into thinking otherwise if the author doesn’t want me to.
I wonder sometimes how authors would feel if they read the intro*ductions that spring up in front of their works after they’re too dead to say anything about them. What if that character had nothing to do with the author’s brother but was actually based on the writer’s dad’s stories about what it was like to grow up with Uncle Oscar? What if the author was rejected by his childhood sweetheart, but it was secretly something of a relief to him by that point, though he never said so to anyone? And does chapter 10 – read differently if the reader knows that?
It’s all just too darn risky, this business of introductions. If I weren’t me, I’m sure I’d be working up to declaring here that “Bull’s experi*ence as a professional musician clearly informed War for the Oaks.” But since I am me, I get to dodge that bullet. I’d had very little ex*perience as a professional musician when I wrote this book. I was extrapolating from things I’d seen other people do, things I’d read and heard. War for the Oaks was written from the backside of the monitor speakers, as it were, and it wasn’t until after the book was published and Cats Laughing came together (Adam Stemple, Lojo Russo, Bill Colsher, Steve Brust, and me, playing original electric folk/jazz/space music) that the novel became at all autobiographical. (By the time I became half of the goth-folk duo the Flash Girls, I was pretty used to the involvement of supernatural forces in one’s band. Half kidding.)
But just knowing a few facts about the chronology of the author’s life doesn’t make introduction-writing safe. Writing a novel may be much like childbirth: once the end product’s age is measured in double digits, the painful and messy details of its origin are a little fuzzy. My firstborn book is a teenager, and its very existence makes it hard for me to remember what life was like before it existed.
And as with teenagers, there’s a point at which your book leaves the nest. What War for the Oaks means to me matters less, now that it’s done and out of my hands, than what it means to whoever’s reading it. A book makes intimate friends with people its author will never meet. I’m not part of those people’s lives; Eddi McCandry is, and the Phouka, and Willy Silver, and the Queen of Air and Darkness. How can I describe or explain that relationship, when I’m not there to see it?
Here’s what I can safely, honestly tell you about the story that fol*lows this introduction:
I still love this book. I still believe in the things it says. When someone tells me, “ War for the Oaks is one of my favorite books,” it still makes me happy and proud.
Those are things only I could tell you; no writer of introductions, no matter how insightful, could deduce them from the text of the novel or the details of my life. But for everything else, the novel can, and should, speak for itself, and your relationship with it is as true as anyone else’s, including mine. All I can do now is step aside and say, “I’d like you to meet my story.”
I hope the two of you hit it off.
What Emma Bull thinks of introductions (from her book, War for the Oaks)
I share her the same hate for introductions (though I can't express it that well,) but I love short dedications, and generally have no problem with long acknowledgments. I know how to turn a page...
May 24th, 2007, 08:49 AM
Speaking only for myself, I would put a short dedication (a la Redhead) at the beginning of my book and a longer acknowledgement at the very end.
May 24th, 2007, 11:29 AM
Dedications and Acknowledgements are two different things. A Dedication dedicates the book to a person or persons. An Acknowledgement is a thank you note to those people who read the book, helped with research or helped to get it published, acknowledging their contribution to the author's work. As writers, we should be very happy that authors put in acknowledgement pages, as they frequently list their agents and editors -- helpful info for the rest of us.
A majority of the paperbacks published have no dedications, acknowledgements or even author bios. Hardcovers tend to have them to keep the authors from being pissed off. It is very rare for a novel to have an Introduction, unless it is a classic work of the past that is being studied in schools.
Afterwords, appendixes, maps and such have become very popular in epic fantasy because people like more information about the imaginary world that was created and because these stories often have big casts of characters. But it is unusual to find these things in other types of fantasy or science fiction, or in any other type of fiction.
I don't see what the big deal is. Acknowledgements are often quite funny. My favorite Dedication comes from a young writer who was doing a horror novel about dangerous German Shepherds. His dedication was: to my parents, who prefer dachsunds.