About the Book
“Bettyville” is a funny, tender memoir about a son coming home to a place he never quite fit to care for his aging mother.
Hodgman, after working for years as an editor in New York City, returns to Paris, Missouri and finds that his hometown and his mother Betty are both in extreme decline. The two share a fierce love, but a deep silence, as Betty has never been able to understand or accept his homosexuality. Hodgman reflects on his recovery from addiction, losing loved ones to the AIDS epidemic and his struggles to care for the still feisty but failing Betty. Funny, honest and tenderhearted, this memoir illuminates how a person is shaped by a family and community that are at once loving and damaging, flawed and beautiful.
“On Betty’s Journey, I have learned something I had not known: I am very strong, strong enough to stay, strong enough to go when the time comes. I am staying not to cling on, but because sometime, at least once, everyone should see someone through. All the way home.” – George Hodgman, “Bettyville”
In this year’s One Read selection, George Hodgman tells the story of returning to Paris, Missouri after working for years in New York City and finding both his hometown and his mother in extreme decline. The book is full of stories from his childhood, woven among his present-day struggles and triumphs as his mother’s caregiver – memories, events and conversations that formed the man he now is.
Taking inspiration from “Bettyville,” we invite you to write a personal essay of 250 words or less – a mini memoir – that recalls a pivotal event or interaction that significantly shaped your personality, crystalized your worldview, or otherwise echoed through the years of your life. The memory you choose may be a monumental moment – like the birth of a child or loss of a loved one – or seemingly small, but it should be a moment that stands for something important and from which you learned something about yourself.
Starting September 1, entries may be submitted using this form, mailed or dropped off at any library or bookmobile. (See full rules below for details.) Winning entries and honorable mentions will be published on this site and in the Columbia Missourian (online and in print). Winners will receive a $25 book store gift card.
Entries are due by September 26. Participants must be age 16 or older and residents of Boone or Callaway Counties. Read on for complete contest rules.
The View From Here
A One Read Art Exhibit
Orr Street Studios (106 Orr Street, Columbia)
“The sky is our sea here, our object of contemplation in all its moods and shades. My father taught me to observe it…My father loved to watch, in autumn, the long scarves of lonely birds, flying, finally together, toward home.”
~ George Hodgman, “Bettyville”
“Missouri in the springtime is pretty hard to beat, little boy.”
~ Betty Hodgman
Inspired by this year’s One Read selection, we invite Mid-Missouri artists to contribute works that explore the Midwestern landscape, rural communities, family houses or other scenes from this place we call home.
Cash prizes will be awarded for three winners, courtesy of Columbia’s Office of Cultural Affairs. The third place winner will receive $50, the second place winner $75 and the first place winner $125. The first place winner will also receive a $100 voucher towards a class at the Columbia Art League. Art will be displayed August 28 through September 24 at Orr Street Studios with a reception, awards and program on Tuesday, September 13 at 6:30 p.m.
Submission Details Continue reading
Each winter, the public submits suggestions for next year’s One Read book. In January, a panel of community members reviews the suggestions, narrowing that list down to 10 titles, and then chooses two or three books to present for a public vote.
Final 10 Selections