Monday, July 20, 2015

Bettyville by George Hodgeman

22. A book based on or turned into a TV show

From the dedication page:  "Finally it is for Madison and Paris, where so many I have cared about walked. I will always remember you, good people."

Epigraph from the book: If only one knew what to remember or pretend to remember. Make a decision and what you want from the lost things will present itself. You can take it down like a can from a shelf. ~Elizabeth Hardwick, Sleepless Nights.

Love for this story and this book and this writer took me by surprise. I spent the first 75 or 100 pages trying to decide what the writer was trying to do and when I finally got it, I was in love.

George Hodgman has written a beautiful memoir about growing up in Paris, Missouri and taking care of his aging mother Betty in the present day. It is an elegy to small town rural life that is disappearing under a haze of poverty and meth clinics; it is a love letter to his mother; it is a painful understanding of what it means to be young and gay and come out to your parents. It is the bittersweet time of life when you are saying farewell to the people who knew you best and are taking stock of what they have given you and what you in turn have made of it.

Page by page Mr Hodgeman won me over with beautiful writing, love for his home and his people, and a slow building of suspense for how everything would turn out with his mother and his life.  Let me add also that the author is hysterically funny. He has a dry with that allows him to slip in great lines and passages again and again.

This is an amazing book made great because Mr Hodgman is a really truly fine writer.  Betty and George could be any one of us.  Betty and George didn't fly to the moon or get elected president. What they did was not extraordinary, but the author's writing is simply superb. So many lines to write down, so many places to stop and hold your breath because he knows exactly how to express love and family and emotion and life.  I truly can't say enough great about this memoir.

This is a book I will gift to many people as we all come to understand what it means to grow old and say good-bye to our past and make sense of how we became who we became.

( I read somewhere that this books has been optioned for a TV series--not sure if i will come about but I think that qualifies it for the above category!)

1 comment:

Carole Clark said...

Got in and anxious to read this book. Especially as we care for our oarents who always cared for us. Now that the tables are turned it is a gift to be able to do it and remind ourselves why we do.
Great way to remember the books that moved us at a point in time before time marches in and we forget exactly why.