After my brief, awkward encounter with Haruki Murakami several years ago (a story for another time), I had sworn off book signings as both too artificial and too intimate. The poor author is surrounded by a roomful of strangers who feel they know him, and he has to make chit chat with them while he perfunctorily does something he would normally do just for a friend, i.e., personally inscribe a copy of his book. The part of an author I am entitled to as a reader, I now reason, manifests on the page, not in person. The thrill of seeing a writer in the flesh is just too lurid and shallow.
All my apprehensions proved unfounded — he was hilarious, nerdy, brilliant, and gracious. In short, everything I get from reading his books. I suppressed my politer instincts and even chatted with him while he signed my book. I just have one problem: I have no idea what the inscription says (can you, dear reader, figure it out?). So, like the sources of Fillorian magic in his books, it will forever remain a mystery.
But seriously, what the hell does the top line say? “My heart is for Evan” (lovely, but unlikely), “my hearth?” “My best?” “My hash?” “My bosh?”