Bettyville: A Memoir

Bettyville: A Memoir

  • Publish Date: 2016-02-02
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Author: George Hodgman
Penguin Books
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The idea of a cultured gay man leaving New York City to care for his aging mother in Paris, Missouri, is already funny, and George Hodgman reaps that humor with great charm. But then he plunges deep, examining the warm yet fraught relationship between mother and son with profound insight and understanding. Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home



When George Hodgman leaves Manhattan for his hometown of Paris, Missouri, he finds himselfan unlikely caretaker and near-lethal cookin a head-on collision with his aging mother, Betty, a woman of wit and will. Will George lure her into assisted living? When hell freezes over. He cant bring himself to force her from the home both treasurethe place where his fathers voice lingers, the scene of shared jokes, skirmishes, and, behind the dusty antiques, a rarely acknowledged conflict: Betty, who speaks her mind but cannot quite reveal her heart, has never really accepted the fact that her son is gay.

As these two unforgettable characters try to bring their different worlds together, Hodgman reveals the challenges of Bettys life and his own struggle for self-respect, moving readers from their small towncrumbling but still colorfulto the star-studded corridors of Vanity Fair. Evocative of The End of Your Life Book Club and The Tender Bar, Hodgmans New York Times bestselling debut is both an indelible portrait of a family and an exquisitely told tale of a prodigal sons return.

A remarkable, laugh-out-loud book . . . Rarely has the subject of elder care produced such droll human comedy, or a heroine quite on the mettlesome order of Betty Baker Hodgman. For as much as the book works on several levels (as a meditation on belonging, as a story of growing up gay and the psychic cost of silence, as metaphor for recovery), it is the strong-willed Betty who shines through. The New York Times

The Amazon Spotlight Pick for March 2015: When George Hodgman left Manhattan for Paris to visit his aging mother, he didnt realize it would be the beginning of an unintended, and indeterminate tenure as a caregiver. Did I mention that its Paris, Missouri? They say you cant go home again, and in Hodgmans case, you can understand why he wouldnt want toParis hadnt proven to be the most hospitable place for someone coming to terms with their sexuality. This was compounded by the fact that Hodgmans parents didnt approve of who he turned out to be, which was as specific as they were willing to get on the matter. Any gaps in their understanding were filled with an insidious silence that kept this otherwise loving family at arms length. I havent forgotten what this book is called and, no doubt, you will fall in love with the impossible and endearing woman that is its namesake. But at its heart, Bettyville serves as a poignant cautionary tale about the dangers of leaving difficult things unsaid, and in these pages, Hodgman practices what he preaches. Erin Kodicek

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