I’m in Paris, MO with my dear friend and client George Hodgman. George and I were editorial assistants at SImon & Schuster a hundred years ago. You may remember that I was a ripe 26 when I “broke into” publishing. I was so determined to “make it” that I didn’t want to hang out with the assistants who really didn’t give a shit, or were chronic complainers, or headed to law school. I wanted to befriend the ones who really wanted to become editors, and I wanted to learn from them.
I knew George was a brilliant writer when I read his flap copy. He had flare. He turned a phrase. In that single column that graces the inside flap of a book, he could make you want to read a book about mitochondria. I stalked him and we became friends. He went on to become an editor of prize winning and bestselling books, an extension of his instincts and brilliant editing.
When George finally produced some pages of his own, I wasn’t surprised to find them moving, hilarious, elegant. Those pages became the beloved memoir, Bettyville. Last night in Columbia, MO, as the centerpiece of a monthlong “One Read” program, George gave a keynote speech to a packed auditorium. He told the crowd of 600 people what it was like losing his beloved mother, Betty. He talked about caregiving and aging and community and kindness. He did it all with flare and sweetness and his wicked sense of humor. Being part of the standing ovation was a singular thrill, watching my beloved friend embraced by his community. At the Q&A, a woman came up to the microphone and asked if she could give him a hug. “No!” George said.
If you haven’t read Bettyville yet, you are in for a treat. Love from Paris, MO.
What’s your favorite memoir?
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