Sunday, November 19, 2017

Bill McKibben has dedicated his debut cli-fi novel RADIO FREE VERMONT to his wife, the writer Sue Halpern ("for Spunky Knowsalot" the dedication page reads with lots of white space)


***UPDATED 11/20/2017

SPUNKY KNOWSALOT knows a lot: Bill McKibben's secretly-coded sweet dedication page nod to his wife, the writer and fellow intellectual Sue Halpern, is one for the books

Dedications are often deliberately coded, publicly acknowledging an important relationship, while at the same time trying to keep it private. In the case of RADIO FREE VERMONT's dedication "For Spunky Knowsalot," Bill personally confirmed recently to a reporter for a major wire service based in Vermont that Spunky Knowsalot is a coded phrase to stand for his wife. But the wire service reporter felt that that part of his article was not germane to the what the reporter wanted the article to say, so he did not include anything about Sue Halpern or Spunky Knowsalot in the published piece for editorial reasons, according to publishing sources. But word might leak out later in literary blogs and literary websites.

Michael Chabon dedicated ''THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S UNION'' this way:

To Ayelet


[Note: Ayalet is his wife's name; Bashert is a Yiddish/Hebrew term for "It was meant to be"]

A dedication is the expression of friendly connection or thanks by the author towards another person. The dedication has its own place on the dedication page and is part of the front matter.

In newer books, the dedication is located on a dedication page on its own, usually on the recto page after the main title page inside the front matter. It can occupy one or multiple lines depending on its importance. It can also be "in a longer version as a dedication letter or dedication preface at the book's beginning". Nowadays, the dedication's function is mainly part of the self-portrayal of the author in front of his or her readers.

Once you’ve skimmed the title page of a book and publishing credits, the first thing you encounter in a book is the dedication. A few sparse words dropped into those preliminary white pages, they are poetic in their brevity, sometimes an enigmatic series of initials or a secretive “for all the reasons she knows so well”. Behind every “For Spunky Knowsalot,” there is a story of the relationship between the author and the person to whom it was dedicated.

Dedications are often deliberately coded, publicly acknowledging an important relationship, while at the same time trying to keep it private.

Book dedications: so few words, but such big stories : see link below from 1982 NYT article in the book section.

So we look here at the poetic history of a book's first few words, which are so often secretly coded by their author.

Some authors, like Bill, dedicate their books to their wives:


Wilbur Smith “For Danielle”,
Brian Moore “For Jean, comme d’habitude”,
F Scott Fitzgerald “Once Again to Zelda”.
Bill McKibben: "For Spunky Knowsalot"

Dedications have been around for as long as people have put pen to paper. Horace and Virgil both dedicated to their wealthy patron Maecenas. Centuries later, Jane Austen, who was contemptuous of the Prince Regent, dedicated Emma to him because one of his circle suggested/ordered her to do so.
Wilkie Collins dedicated ''The Moonstone'' to his late mother, beginning a move towards inscribing to family and friends, often by way of apology for the hours spent scribbling away.

Jeffrey Archer dedicated ''Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less'' to “the Fat Men”, his two sons, then aged three and one.

Some authors say deciding on the dedication is harder than writing the book.

1 comment:


UPDATED; SPUNKY KNOWSALOT code name now confirmed to AP reporter PS: Guess who news-tipped the reporter A MONTH AGO for a good Vermont story? Some bloke in Taiwan! Pro Bono