• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Don’t Tell Me Not To Live

bettyvillecollagex750

Last night, I had the great honor of escorting my friend and client George Hodgman to the National Book Critics Circle Awards; his book Bettyville was a finalist. Ittook place at New School’s beautiful auditorium that looks like the inside of a deco egg. It was a star-studded event. To the left of us, Helen McDonald sans hawk. Directly in front of me Paul Beatty who I’ve loved since his first book of poems. Wendell Berry seemed annoyed to be receiving a lifetime achievement award. Everywhere in attendance proud editors, agents and family members. Margo Jefferson’s memoir Negroland won in George’s category, autobiography. No complaint there, but still I have to admit that in the moment before the winner’s name is announced, I found myself hoping with the fervor of a small child making a birthday wish. We consoled and celebrated over a long and delicious dinner with friends where much publishing gossip was exchanged. A meal in itself. When I think about reading the first pages George shared with me and sitting with him last night, and all the work in between that went into Bettyville, I feel so fortunate. Publishing doesn’t always fuck you over,

11 Responses

  1. A beautiful story. Kudos to you both — you’re lucky to have each other. I will buy George’s book today in support of his and your passion. ❤

  2. You had me at Helen without the Hawk. How lucky is George Hodgman in the agent who is also a great date. This sounds like the perfect literary evening and a total blast. Bettyville deserves its reviews and accolades. You really know how to pick a client, Betsy!

  3. What a great way to spend the evening!
    (And Wendell Berry deserves pretty much every award he receives — probably cranky because he wasn’t on the farm).

  4. I have Bettyville – I haven’t read it yet, but I’ve flipped through the pages and I can tell it’s going to be the kind of story I won’t be able to put down.

    Congratulations to George Hodgman, and to you too, as his agent. It must have been a fun night, and although it was a miss, I think being nominated is about as good as a win.

  5. I just finished Bettyville and LOVED it. Laughter, tears, snot, hoots, hollers, horror. And now stopping people in the street to say, Read this book, NOW! So you, George and food – the ultimate. The “who would you have for lunch” in the NYT Book Review interview.

    Enough gushing – just a big ol’ congratulations left!

  6. Wow, that Nick Offerman speech for Wendell Berry was practically a tutorial on the great man. So the autobios had Negroland pitted against Bettyville and oh my, did Margo Jefferson throw a punch at Paul Beatty or did they make nice over the crudités? I read that a gardening book won for poetry and The Argonauts won for having the ugliest book cover of all (I think an a writer has a right to expect better out of the Art Dept.).

    Bettyville is a great story but it’s a masterpiece of narrative structure. I loved reading it, just to see how George Hodgman was able to pull off such a delicate story-telling maneuver page after page, the two steps forward, one step back in time thing, until the two stories that were waltzing around each other the whole book come together at the end and take a bow, at which time everything, even the book cover, makes perfect sense.

    Bettyville was the funniest and the saddest thing I read all last year. I hope that the evening was still worth it to George, to get out of Paris for a night.

  7. Great news! Sounds like you both had a wonderful time.

    • Tetman, I have visited your web thingy and I think you are a good person. And I am sorry about that Mayo comment with your name attached to it. That was not nice. I am a bad person. I admit it. I tried to contact you through your website but it is impossible. I bought your book months ago. High times indeed it was but I don’t think the cops are so stupid as to not see plants under a blanket. Maybe NM is a different sort of intelligence. Again, you rock. Love your stuff. Can’t figure out how to connect with you. Again, sorry. Words are words are words. Life is long.

  8. I just checked Bettyville out of our library — and had to wait on the reserve list for it. And there are several waiting for me to return it. I think this book has legs. A friend of mine heard George speak at an event in St. Louis and said she felt like she’d made a friend. High praise.

  9. Weird. Forgiving your mother for fucking up your life is weird, dude. Weird. But now you mother-lovers have got me thinking about when my mom was a kid and now I think I might be too harsh on her sometimes because she was just trying to live and biology is biology and people pump out kids. It happens. But here we are in love with life after all that fight and Mom kinda put the heart in you pretty much. Dammit! You guys are making it really hard for me to be a hard case. Fuck it. OK. I love my mom too. Shit, I hope she’s still alive. Betsy. I love you. You know I do. But you’re makin’ real hard on me, and not fake hard.

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