I’ve eliminated friends who have broken my spines.

I’m in love with having signed copies of books. Seeing an author’s handwriting makes me feel closer to the actual writing process, and that jazzes me to no end. I keep all of my signed books on the top shelf of my bookshelf, and they are the only books that receive a semi-regular dusting. (Okay. I made that up. None of my books receive even a semi-regular dusting. Gesundheit!)

My copy of Remembering Denny is the first book I had signed, and is one of my most treasured possessions.

After listening to me drone on about the Mrs. Bridget character in Tom Jones’s “Henry Fielding,” Helen Fielding told me I was brilliant. (I don’t think she really meant it. I think we both know I was being embarrassingly pretentious and her “brilliant” was code for “Okay then, Spooky. Moving right along!”)

Jeff gave this to me a few months before he moved to Nashville. I have very distinct memories of sitting on a washing machine at my apartment complex and studying the pen dents left by William Gass.

Shortly after discovering I was pregnant with Meredith, I had Salman Rushdie sign my copy of The Ground Beneath Her Feet. I will not let anyone borrow this book. You know, because of the fatwa and all.

Jenny Boully dyes amazing yarn and spins amazing words.

SueBob gave this to me at BlogHer in San Francisco last year, and every time I open it, I think of her.

My friend Jen sent this to me for my birthday. It was one of my favorite gifts.

This is one of my recent acquisitions. Bill Keaggy is one of the most creative locals I sort of know. He celebrates National Sandwich Month every year! He collects grocery lists! He takes photos of Sad Chairs!

Right here is where I would add a photograph of Eden Kennedy‘s signature in my copy of Things I Learned About My Dad, but it is currently sitting on a shelf in Springfield, Missouri. I took the book to San Francisco last year with the goal of having it signed by each of the contributors. Sadly, because I’m Angela R. Pudding, I didn’t have the guts to approach anyone but Eden.

Thanks to Angella, I just received a copy of the new Danny Evans book. And I have a huge grin on my face because of this:


Those words will keep me smiling for approximately 17.2 days. (And the words printed within will keep the smile going, I’m sure.)

Tell me your author stories. It’s fifty degrees outside, and I’ve busted out the jeans. (Figuratively. Shut up.) ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

26 thoughts on “I’ve eliminated friends who have broken my spines.”

  1. I have very few signed books, but when I finish reading a story that absolutely absorbed me I have to keep it nearby until I am over it. Like it’s a bible or something, my husband thinks I’m a nutcase.

  2. The only other signed book I have (aside from Danny’s) is my copy of “Sleep Is For The Weak” from BlogHer ’08.

    I am SO GLAD that you won my little giveaway. I might have clapped my hands when the randomizer picked your name. Maybe.

    I smiled when I saw what Danny signed for you because I, too, love the way you write. I’m glad that it will keep you smiling :)

  3. I have all of Joshilyn Jackson’s books signed. The first I won in a contest on her blog (LOVE her blog). I forget how I got the second signed but I believe it was also through her blog somehow. The last, I got a babysitter, drove my bad self into the city (which didn’t used to be a big deal, and really wasn’t in the end but felt monumentous at the time) and MET her and had her sign her third novel. I tried to not gush and also become her very best friend. I ended up hopefully not making an ass of myself which really was the most important goal to meet.

    I also got a copy of one of George Carlin’s books signed as a surprise gift to my husband. I took the old bus in for that but I was young then and it really was not a big deal. Once I got there, I decided George Carlin was way too cool not to have my husband meet him. I tried to keep it a surprise anyway but he wouldn’t blindly follow me so he did not get to meet George Carlin (and get a picture – woohoo!) and I DID.

    I have also started this obsession with my children. They had a book signing by local children’s authors last spring and my kids were mesmorized by being able to meet the people who wrote their bedtime stories. Pretty cool.

  4. I don’t have a lot of signed books, but I do love them. I have the Sweet Potato Queen books signed (I actually have 2 copies of the first two because I thought I lost the original signed copies in a move & ordered more when my boss destroyed the third book by letting fruit punch soak into it. I’m still bitter that they didn’t offer to replace it.) & I have Ysolda’s Whimsical Little Knits signed. I think that’s about it.

    Damn, now I want more signed books. :)

  5. I worked in book publishing for several years, but I think my favorite story is when an invitation came to our literary agency for a party celebrating the release of one of Paul Auster’s books. The invitation was technically for an agent who didn’t work there any more, but now I had the invite in my hand and who would know if I showed up instead? So I dragged my then boyfriend (now husband) to this great apartment in the village where my plan to blend in was foiled by us being the first people there. Oh, the awkwardness! I drank lots of wine and tried to avoid the question “Who do you know?” At some point we sidled up to a conversation with Mr. Auster and pulled out our ace in the hole, that we knew some musicians he had written a song for. He totally lit up and chattered excitedly about the project for awhile. “All authors secretly want to be rock stars,” he told us.

  6. One signed book: Richard Yates’ _Revolutionary Road_. It says, “To Jennifer Perlman: a splendid writer with a brilliant future.” Dick Yates.

  7. Dr. Ruth Westheimer has books out, so she counts, right?

    I worked in a bookstore that she was doing a signing at, and she grabbed me to help her shop for Canadian-type gifts for her grandkids. The woman was the size of a Chatty Cathy doll and lovely to talk to.

  8. I went out to Portland last weekend to meet fascinating bloggers and get fat and wasted with them, and I was sad to see that I was a week late to meet Danny during his book signing at Powell’s Huge-ass Megastore ‘O Reading Material. I bought a signed copy, anyhow, but it lacks the personal touch.

  9. I had Bill Bryson sign his Notes from a Big Island for me, and while he was writing, I told him that it had made me laugh out loud while I was in hospital. And instead of saying “Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it”, as I would have done, he looked up and said, “Oh dear, I do hope you’re better now”.
    What a NICE guy he is.

  10. Two stories for you…

    My first book signed by the author was when I was 9 in 1980. We were told that Dorothy Hamilton was coming to our elementary school for a book signing. Imagine our dismay when we realized that Indiana author Dorothy Hamilton was NOT the same as figure skater Dorothy Hamill. Still sad about that.

    But karma threw me a bone 29 years later and I got my copy of “Me Talk Pretty Someday” signed by Mr. David Sedaris!!! He was at my college alma mater, Ball State University in March for a signing/reading event. He was awesome beyond words and shamelessly flirted with my husband.

  11. I worked for an independent bookseller for a few years, so I racked up quite a few autographed books, sometimes even sympathy signatures of unknown writers, because no one would show for their signing, and time would pass slowly. but the highlights –
    Got PJ o’Rourke, Gregory McGuire, and doodles from John Scieszka & Lane Smith.

    But my favorites: getting Frank McCourt’s autograph on our honeymoon in London. Lovely experience. I also have a signed To Kill a Mockingbird, a birthday gift from my husband.

  12. I totally flirted with Susie Bright while she signed my book, and she flirted right back. I’m not a lesbian, but it just felt like the right thing to do with such a sexy sex writer.

  13. I have only two author-signed books, and of those two, only one that I care about: Dead Man Walking signed by Sr. Helen Prejean. The other book is by Bruce Lansky, he of the children’s poetry and name book fame. The author whose signature I covet? Lois Lowry.

  14. My best author story isn’t a signed book, but rather the micro-cassette from my answering machine when Dorothy Allison called me to say in the nicest possible way that I could make a short film of 7 pages from Bastard out of Carolina, her novel, but that I couldn’t get rights to sell it anywhere. And she left a # so I could call back. I have nothing to play it on, but you know I still own the cassette.

    Oh, by the by, I gave you an award today. So please stop by or send a spokesperson to collect it. I love your blog, you make me laugh until I cry and you have good taste in Mary Janes. Trifecta.

  15. My favorite signed book is one I inherited when my great-uncle passed away. He used to produce the Jack Paar show and knew all sorts of New York glitterati. I found a copy of one of Dorothy Parker’s books in his apartment after he died, inscribed: “For Tom – I wish I’d written a better book for such a nice man.”

  16. Judging from your signature collection, I would say you are pretty brave, and have good friends who know you well.

    I, on the other hand, was too embarrassed to ask anyone for their signature recently when I went to a reading for Unbuttoned, an anthology about breast feeding, despite the fact that several of my very own friends contributed. Luckily, my 10 year-old daughter was happy to do my dirty work for me.

  17. Shortly after I moved to NYC to be with JB, we went to see Madeleine L’Engle and got a signed copy of A Wrinkle in Time. I think if we ever split (knock wood, spits, throws salt over shoulder) that it is the one thing I would want.

    I’ll have to think if I have any others…

  18. I scared Anne Lamott because I was creepy stalker fan and WOULD NOT STOP TALKING AHHH.

    Reynolds Price is a delightful man; we talked for quite a long time and he complemented my necklace and…I asked if I could write him and he said “I would love it if you wrote to me!” and gave me his email address. And I never did because I am chicken.

    Also chicken – I stood beside Allen Ginsberg for what must have been 10 minutes, trying to get up the nerve to ask him to sign the dog-eared copy of On The Road in my back pocket. I never did. But seeing AG speak at the art institute in that city on that night with that particular carload of friends was so so so perfect, if he had taken my copy of On The Road in his hands, I might have burst into flames or something. So it’s probably for the best.

    He led us in a song. Peter Orlansky drummed, and we sang/chanted And all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

  19. Pen dents!

    This is funny to me because yesterday I wrote about loving to analyze handwriting. The “G” in Gass is AMAZING.

    My favorite recent inscription is from David Sedaris. He drew my young friend a turtle and gave her a bottle of hotel shampoo. He also gave out condoms and random items to others getting their books signed.


  20. My plan was to ask Gary Snyder to write the Japanese symbol for sunyata in my book, he would think I was cool and different from the other autograph seekers, and then we’d smoke a joint.

    He corrected my pronunciation.

  21. I too collect authors signatures. Favorites would probably be…

    Augusten Burroughs because he was loud and cocky while reading on stage, yet calm and personal during the one-on-one readings. Plus, he took my author signing virginity.

    Heather Armstrong of Dooce.com because the moment she opened her mouth to speak to the audience it felt like listening to an old friend. Those words online translated perfectly in person. There is no posturing online, it’s just Heather being Heather. Strangely, it was a relief.

    And David Sedaris because he took the time to speak to EACH AND EVERY PERSON AT HIS READING. Yes it was irritating to wait 6 hours to have my book signed, but once it was my turn he predicted that my boyfriend and I would have a son and name him Cletus and then drew a picture of my future spawn. Made up for all 6 of those long hours.

  22. My best author story isn’t a signed book, but rather the micro-cassette from my answering machine when Dorothy Allison called me to say in the nicest possible way that I could make a short film of 7 pages from Bastard out of Carolina, her novel, but that I couldn’t get rights to sell it anywhere. And she left a # so I could call back. I have nothing to play it on, but you know I still own the cassette.

    Oh, by the by, I gave you an award today. So please stop by or send a spokesperson to collect it. I love your blog, you make me laugh until I cry and you have good taste in Mary Janes. Trifecta….

  23. Clive James, one of the funniest men on the planet – I dare you all to read ‘Unreliable Memoirs’ in public and not wet your pants laughing (I did), and Lois McMaster Bujold, who writes Space Opera & Fantasty… that is all, but for me, that’s enough.

    Still sad about the t-shirt though.

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