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If you borrow this book, you have to return it: Lizzy Acker.

February 8, 2011 \am\28 8:00 am

[For this series, I’ve asked many wondrous writers to reflect on an individual copy of a book that is very important to them. Writers and publishers have varied and often impassioned relationships to their analog books, as actual books are still arguably the “realest” physical manifestation of their poetic pursuits. I think that as the Kindle and other digital representations of text continue their upward spiral, it’s important to reflect on books as the uniquely funky-smelling, emotion-provoking, paper-cutting, dust/coffee/spaghetti sauce-collecting artifacts that they are! Check back next week for more top picks!]


Lizzy Acker’s work has been published in Nano Fiction and Tramp Quarterly. She was the co-creator/curator, with Amira Pierce, of the popular San Francisco reading series Funny/Sexy/Sad.  Her first book, Monster Party, was released in December by Small Desk Press. She currently lives in San Francisco where she writes status updates for public media.

I, like most 18 year olds in 2001, fell deep, deeply in love with Dave Egger’s book, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. It blew my mind completely and of course made me want to be a writer JUST LIKE DAVE.  The summer after I graduated from high school, I went with some friends to Bumbershoot, which is a crazy awesome music festival up in Seattle.  I was excited to see Cake, sure, but the main attraction, for me, was Dave Eggers reading in a little auditorium.  My friend Katie and I managed to wrangle front row seats and after THE BEST READING I HAD EVER SEEN, I stood in line for Dave to sign my well-worn copy of the book (it’s the edition with all the different back covers and the upside-down footnote section called “Mistakes We Knew We Were Making”).  Anyway, I got up to the front and he asked me my name and I told him and he wrote “LIZZIE” in big Sharpie letters on the first page.  Which is not how you spell my name.  I didn’t know what to do, this was my IDOL but also, he misspelled my name, so I said, “Um, it’s spelled with a ‘y,’” and he TORN THE PAGE OUT and wrote on the next page: “Lizzy, I would never spell your name wrong.  You?  Never.”

Oh my god.  Such transgression!  My love deepened.

A year later his second book came out and I pre-ordered it but when he came on his tour to Portland the book hadn’t arrived in the mail yet.  So I brought my copy of A Heartbreaking Work and stood in line again and this time was like, “Um, I don’t have You Shall Know Our Velocity yet.  Could you sign this one again?”

It was potentially the most awkward and ridiculous moment of my life but he flipped the book around and signed the front page of the footnote section.  The second signature is different from the first one, like he was working out how to sign books on his first tour.  I have other books signed by him—eventually he even signed You Shall Know Our Velocity by drawing a severed hand with severed fingers—but this copy of this book is the one thing I always take with me and the book I only loan out to boys I want to marry.  It’s kind of embarrassing I guess but it sort of changed my life and I’m glad the physical object part of it is so important, rough and weird too.


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