On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff
A RENEWAL notice from London Review of Books told a good story: “George Bernard Shaw once saw a copy of one of his books in a secondhand bookshop. When he turned to the flyleaf, he found the name of a friend, inscribed in his own handwriting: ‘To ____ with esteem, George Bernard Shaw.’ Shaw bought the book and returned it to the friend with a new inscription: ‘With renewed esteem, George Bernard Shaw.’ ”
This Bernard Shaw story got me thinking about other inscriptions and dedications, some by authors, others by someone gifting the book to another. Here are favorites:
Chris Colfer dedicated his book The Wishing Spell “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.’ ”
In his dedication in This Boy’s Life: A Memoir, Tobias Wolff wrote, “My first stepfather used to say that what I didn’t know would fill a book. Well, here it is.”
I love the sentiment expressed by Dark Places author Gillian Flynn in her dedication: “What can I say about a man who knows how I think and still sleeps next to me with the lights off?”
I have some signed editions, a few from people I’ve even actually met. My copy of The Cobra Story is inscribed “From Your Racing Friend, Carroll Shelby.” Indeed, this book signing in the mid-1960s was my second Shelby encounter.
I probably mentioned to him at the time that I remembered him from Giants Despair Hillclimb in 1956. Years later, when I got to know Ol’ Shel’ through R&T, we joked about how long we’d known each other, sort of….
I have a signed edition of the cookbook from Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House in Savannah, Georgia. Before each meal, the late Mrs. Wilkes would ask patrons at this family-style restaurant to join hands for a brief prayer of thanks. When I bought the cookbook, Mrs. Wilkes asked me, “Who’s the boss?”
Rattled for a second, I realized she wanted my wife’s name too.
One of the most telling inscriptions I ever read in a secondhand shop was in a book so recent that it was still on the Best Sellers’ list. The inscription read, “To the man who never loved me enough to give me his name.”
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2017