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    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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how bout me not blaming you for everything

Betsy, After posting a blog entry about my struggle with the acknowledgments page for my debut story collection, I’ve been wondering what might be construed of as tacky or overkilL  I bet you have some good stories about author acknowledgments — the good, the bad, the excessive, the embarrassing, the heartfelt, the beautiful. Any thoughts or stories you’d like to share?

I actually think acknowledgments are gross and if you can leave them off entirely, please do so. The worst is when they they go on for pages and thank everyone including the nursemaid who wiped your ass. They are like the folded up pieces of paper tucked into Judith Lieber bags or tuxedo pockets of academy award nominees. I say thank no one. Kill no one. Swap saliva with no one. And if you absolutely have to thank someone, do it in under a paragraph and try to keep it to people who funded you like the Guggy’s or the National Endowment or the Yadooo foundation for sandwiches and fucking in the woods of Saratoga. Remember: you writ it yourself and you are the god of your page. Fuck editors, fuck agents, fuck reading groups, spouses, first teachers, mentors and especially cats There is a special place in hell for people who thank their cats and dogs and ocelots.

Who do you have to thank vs. who do you want to thank?

56 Responses

  1. Perhaps you should’ve told me about this hell place before I spent three pages thanking everyone from Bob Schneider to my dog.

  2. Anything less than complete self-absorption is disingenuous.

  3. Well, I guess I do think it takes a village. Could we really do it without grants, families, librarians, editors, readers, and yes, dear Betsy, even agents?

  4. Sounds like a “You People Were No Fucking Help” section is in order.

  5. First, i’d like to thank god for making it all happen….

  6. I feel sort of obligated to thank the person who suffered the devastating personal tragedy that inspired the plot of my novel. It was the least I could do after brazenly stealing her life without having to suffer the inconvenience of her life-altering injuries.

  7. I thanked only one person–a supportive friend–in the acknowledgments of my first novel. He died the day the ARC arrived. I don’t do them any more.

  8. I think good agents and good editors deserve to be thanked. I’ve needed a lot of help with all of my books. I’ve been lucky. A thank you is the least I can do.

  9. I would like to acknowledge me! I wrote the fucking book, not my editor, not my agent, not my MFA program, not my friends, ME! Yah ha ha ha haaaaa!

  10. I agree agree agree but except you see like um maybe

    pass the salt ….

    I am superstitious to begin with
    & crazed by book’s end

    if I don’t give thanks in acknowledgements I am

    afraid ( yes I FEAR & loathe my fear)

    the gods will punish me

    bad reviews, no sales,

    or turn me into a lion a la Ovid

    or frog or worse -a cockroach — if not now next

    life time.

    So, at the risk offending you, O God /ess Betsy
    of treeforest
    barkfungus —
    advice and wit

    I will bow and curtsy and spin on my head and give thanks

    as long as

    editor permits me the pages ..

    TIME and SPACE



    Give thanks so as not to offend the gods — dogs, cats, goldfish etc .

  11. Gratitude makes me happy. Not thanking people would bum me out. So it’s selfish, really. But yeah, the acks that go on for pages are embarrassing.

    • This is so true. Gratitude makes me happy too and I’m very grateful to several people who’ve been sticking with my writing. I’m the god of my page for sure but nobody does anything alone. I don’t get the big deal. If you don’t like the acknowledgements, don’t read them. I personally love reading them.

  12. Jesus Christ. I’ve written my acknowledgements and you’re in them, Betsy! Now what should I do? I have kept them to a minimum and did cut out the part about my parents’ dead cat in Florida, who, when first seeing the manuscript, made a literal, loud, “Wow!” and patted the ms with his paw. Thanks, Stevie, may you rest in cat heaven.

  13. The acceptance speeches tucked into tuxedo pockets are the worst because the winner always acts surprised. At least no on acts like it’s some huge shock to have a published book land at their feet. That shit takes years of work and preparation.

  14. what bugs me are the writers who use their acknowledgments page to name-drop, I’d like to thank Toni Morrison, Philip Roth and Don DeLillo for their invaluable input…

  15. “Who do you have to thank vs. who do you want to thank?”

    Oh yeah like I’m going to fucking thank somebody after you ripped the whole concept a new asshole. And as far as that goes, I don’t “have” to thank anybody and I don’t “want” to thank anybody, but I will here and now and maybe again some other time and place thank Stephanie for making it possible and Gordon for making it necessary. And I’ll thank everybody else, cats included, if they’ll just stay the fuck out of the way.

  16. The ack pages do seem to be turning into mini-memoirs, do they not? Brevity is best I think, when it comes to thanking.

    I do beg to differ on the “thank no one” front. It’s like saying “marry no one.” I think it might be best to thank (and marry) a select few.

  17. I’m for them. But only if they’re written well. When I see paragraphs of names my eyes glaze over.

  18. My book didn’t come about under my hands alone, though. I certainly don’t think one needs to thank the nanny, but people who have had a direct impact, yes. I think it’s kind of awful to suggest these people shouldn’t get a couple of words.

  19. It’s a special place to thank special people. If you feel that way, of course you should acknowledge them. If I ever get the chance, I may just thank the mistress who lured my husband away and allowed me to get some effing writing done.

  20. I’d have to thank my mom. For causing the pain and encouraging me to write about. Other than that, I think I’d thank God. This is all assuming I finish writing my book.

  21. After wiping heinie for ten straight years, I’d be an ass not to thank my mother.

  22. i agree with betsy.

  23. If not my cat, who?

  24. Some of my favorite authors have pages-long acknowledgments, and I always read them and they’re always icky. One of them was so bad that I almost gave up the author, even though her first book, which I had just finished, was terrific — just the kind of book that makes me know I don’t have to write another word cuz this girl said it all. But I got over it, and have her subsequent books — bought hot-off-the-press hardback, thankyouverymuch — and am on the hit list for her latest coming out real soon now, and I can’t wait. So you’re right, no acknowledgments.

    In fact, I don’t even like bios or Wiki pages, even though I sometimes Google a writer, usually cuz I’m coming off a high from their book and I need to find out if they wrote anything else cuz I want it right now.

    But I don’t mind an author photo with a cat in it. And dogs are okay. And the man author can be smoking a pipe. But the woman author should be old and wrinkled so I know there’s still hope for me.

  25. Thank you to the trees who gave their lives to make these pages. Thanks to the captured squid (“Squiggly”) who was milked dry to supply the ink for these words. Thank you for the cardboard creatures who were sacrificed for the cover. Thank you stardust, moonbeams, sunshine and all the prettiness in the world.

  26. I’m a total voyeur. I love acknowledgments the way you love a train wreck or details about the divorce of someone you hate.

  27. I’m going the indie writer eBook route and since people are all about sampling on their Kindles and Nooks, I’ve put almost all “front matter” to the back, including the acknowledgments, so that this stuff doesn’t get in the way of the sample. That said, I do thank my cat, because he’s the most loyal male I’ve ever had in my life.

  28. I guess the acknowledgements thing can get out of hand. But I think, (I’ve been known to do that now and again), my first book when (positive approach) my first book is published a thank you to my agent certainly is in order. She will have be responsible for getting the book to the editor who said ‘yes’, this book is brilliant (or some such fever dream comment) and, a thank you to that editor for said enthusiastic purchase of my book. Additionally, I would thank those who helped me in whatever research, etc. may have contributed to the accuracy of some of the items in the book. Now, these would be acknowledgements. The book dedication would be a different animal altogether.

  29. I like to read the acknowledgements page(s). I even often read it before I even buy the book. So shoot me.

  30. ¿The only thing worse than thanking somebody when you really wished you’d not had to endure them while you wrote your masterpiece?

    Congratulating someone whose half-assed novel got published before you could even get an agent.

    As Gore Vidal said, “It is not enough to succeed, others must fail.”

  31. I take perverse delight that my ex-husband thanked me in his published dissertation. After financially supporting him, forgiving the affairs and after the divorce, being stuck with all his debt, his first edition work will never-the-less,forever, have my name on it.

    A small comfort, but I’ll take it.

  32. At the beginning of this year, I began writing thank you card’s to the people in my life inspired by John Kralik who wrote, 365 Thank Yous: The Year A Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life.

    I love the sweetness and simplicity in just saying thank you. When you want to give so much more, when you want to give the world, sometimes a small, written thank you will do.

  33. I looooove the acknowledgements page. It’s the first thing I read at the bookstore. I especially love it when it’s clear that no one vetted it for the author (oh, honey, do you REALLY want to give three sentences to the guy who fucked your best friend in high school?) and he/she still has some scores to settle. But I also watch the Real Housewives and once I stayed on the subway for miles past my stop, just to keep listening to a teenage couple having an awesome fight about sex.

  34. I review books and get sent a lot of crap books and always cringe for the people these crap books are dedicated to. I wonder does the author ask first? Or is it just like, ‘Surprise, here’s my steaming pile of pages just for you!’

  35. Perhaps my mouse?

  36. I would forgive people addressing their thanks directly TO their pets if I could be sure that the pet would actually read it and be pleased by such a show of gratitude. Better to toss Fido an extra Milk-Bone® and spring for a can of Fancy Feast® for the cat.

  37. I went to Spain for four years to research and write my novel “Vedette.” I traveled throughout the country and leaned on countless people for contacts, interviews, books, hashish, and a place to lay my head. My “thank you” page was extremely short and limited to folks who were helping, or might help, me, and some lit girls I thought were hot. Maybe it’s cultural, but many of my friends in Spain were EXTREMELY hurt that their support had not been registered and become part of the book package. If I had to do it all over again, I’d do something extremely long at the back-end. Nobody would be hurt by it and only those looking for thanks would read it.

  38. What if my ocelot wrote it?

  39. Always and thankfully acknowledge everyone who ever turned their back on me rejecting and disavowing souring me on in kick ass self affirming rage to write it right.

  40. Your post made me grateful I kept it to one line.

    “Thank you for buying my book.”

  41. I think acknowlegements, especially long meandering ones, scream ‘I may never be here again, so better get it all out now’. Not having one, to me, adds a stoic virtue. I don’t give a shit about who helped an author in their journey to publish. I’ll dedicate my first book to the two most important women in my life: my wife and her sister, I mean her mother – shit, my mother. Then that’ll be it. I will never have an acknowlegement page.

  42. I hate the obligation to thank the editor, copy editor, agent, etc. when they actually did nothing.

  43. You rock. I could riff in the background to that, easy. But, unfortunately, I don’t have your experience. So it would be a cacophony of phrases.

  44. I’d like to thank my frenemies, for making me fear failure and redouble my efforts.

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