George fled his tiny home town of Paris, Missouri to lose himself in the publishing world of New York City and avoid what he saw as somehow failing his parents and town for being gay. When his ailing mother calls him home, he returns for what he thinks will be a few days. A few years later he is still there, free-lance editing from the card table set up next to the couch where his larger-than-life mother holds court even as her feet and her memory fail her. George captures perfectly their verbal interplay and emotional tug-of-war with a delightful, often self-deprecating humor. Betty, brutally aware of her failing memory, can still give as good as she gets. Told with warmth and humor, with a poignant, at times hilarious, dose of bumbling self-doubt, this is an original and affecting portrait of a remarkable woman and the son who loves her. -Kris' Top 10 Picks of 2015
BETTY! In so many ways, this is almost a story of my life. I grew up gay in a small Missouri town. It is not easy, but it is often amusing. I did something I have not done in so many years. I dog-eared pages in the book because I knew that they were something I would want to come back to again and again. Read this book! -Shane's May Staff Pick, 2015
"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 HomeNEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD When George Hodgman leaves Manhattan for his hometown of Paris, Missouri, he finds himself--an unlikely caretaker and near-lethal cook--in 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 can't bring himself to force her from the home both treasure--the place where his father's 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 Betty's life and his own struggle for self-respect, moving readers from their small town--crumbling but still colorful--to the star-studded corridors of Vanity Fair. Evocative of The End of Your Life Book Club and The Tender Bar, Hodgman's New York Times bestselling debut is both an indelible portrait of a family and an exquisitely told tale of a prodigal son's 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
About the Author
George Hodgman is a veteran magazine and book editor who has worked at Simon & Schuster, Vanity Fair, and Talk magazine. His writing has appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Interview, W, and Harper's Bazaar, among other publications. He lives in New York City and Paris, Missouri.