You do understand, don’t you, sweet potato gravy, that no matter how much I complain, I really love the things I find written in your books? Granted, I might prefer that the inscription in the front be from, say, Arthur C. Clarke rather than your Aunt Booney, but if Aunt Booney dots her i’s with little cross-eyed dog faces, this makes up some of the difference.
I did get a nice author inscription, and in a book I once read for reviewing purposes. It was a life of Arthur Upfield, the Australian mystery writer I told you about last week, and the author of the book has written “to a fellow Upfield admirer”, which is a nice note for as dedicated an Upfield collector as our donor was.
HOWEVER, as a service to all you autographed book collectors out there, it MIGHT be nice to remember that when you set this book aside for safekeeping, you may not necessarily want to place with it a copy of your letter to the publisher, in which you say, “I see this man writes a lot of books for you. If he is on your staff and available, could you ask him to sign it, and write ‘to a fellow Upfield admirer’ above his name?” Kind of gives the game away, though I, personally, think it makes for a better story.
A nice life of Napoleon came in, not, alas, signed by Napoleon, who had been dead for a number of decades, nor even by the author. The previous owner wrote his name inside and noted “A dryly written life of a great man”. That’s an interesting note, both about the book and about the owner, but I already knew a little something about the owner because he has also included his bookplate, which involves a number of cows and the note “Land o’ Goshen”. Maybe that’s what he called his cattle ranch, or maybe it’s what the cows are saying at finding themselves in a book about Napoleon.
We have had jolly stacks of cookbooks and children’s books arrive: make the appropriate note in your datebook for next July. Some of the children’s books are from a school library, and it’s a wee bit poignant to see how many of them have been inscribed by an author or an illustrator who note how proud they are to be donating the St. Soansoforth School. I admire the book signed by Rainbow Rowell, who likes to decorate the page she autographs with stars or hearts and swoops and flourishes. But I also enjoyed the book in which Denison has written “This is the best book I read all summer.” An honest endorsement is always worthwhile. Denison has not included his last name or address, so if he has changed his mind since (it could have been the first book he read that summer, and if he lined them up right, he might have wound up writing that in each one) he cannot be held accountable for it.
Neither can Goldie, who may have revealed more about herself than she meant to when she wrote “This cookbook is my gift to myself on my seventeenth birthday, 1969”. Again, though, no last name, so Goldie need not admit to her age OR her desire for The Fondue Cookbook. (Wish I’d known her before she gave up fondue; I still have these 37 pickle forks someone donated.)
We have had another mystery collector donate her favorite author. In the upper righthand corner of the first white page (the traditional spot for Book Fair pricing) she has written a number, obviously giving us the order in which the books appeared. (We also had a load of Janet Evanovich, who does that FOR you, in her titles.) The number of young adult novels donated this week has been pretty high: one owner, trying to keep an author’s oeuvre straight, has written which book of which trilogy each title is. Someone is going to be grateful for that, come Book Fair time.
Maybe we won’t be thankful to Walter, who in 1978 wrote on the first white page of a book of poems, “Don’t read this until I talk to you about it.” If the customers wait to find Walter before they buy the book, we’ll have to keep checkout open late.