“Bettyville” by George Hodgman Wins Ardis L. Glenn Prize from The Missouri Center for the Book
"...I believe we are often the most triumphant when revealed at our most human." George Hodgman
For Immediate News Release
Contact: Larisa Cassell
The Missouri Center for the Book (MCB) is proud to announce the selection of “Bettyville” by George Hodgman (Viking, 2015) as its choice for the best Missouri book published in 2015.
The MCB, the official state affiliate of the U.S. Library of Congress, is not the first to celebrate this extraordinary memoir of devotion and love between an adult son and his elderly mother. The book has received accolades from The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Huffington Post, The PBS Newshour with Judy Woodruff, and National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air,” with Terry Gross.
The Prize recipient, Hodgman, is a veteran magazine and book editor who has worked at Simon & Schuster, Vanity Fair, and Talk magazine. His writings have appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Interview, W, and Harper’s Bazaar, among other publications. “Bettyville” is his first book. Upon receiving notification of the award, he said, “I am deeply honored, especially given this is the first year for the prize and the story of Ardis Glenn and her bookshop. This is also such a beautiful honor for my Mother.”
Richard Blanco, United States inaugural poet, writes of Hodgman’s book:
“When I read the first few pages of ‘Bettyville,’ I immediately connected. The detail is poetry and, yes, George Hodgman tells a story that is all our stories if we grow up different, struggling not to hurt those we treasure. But what I will most remember is the human struggle of Betty—the woman at the window, the woman at the piano, the woman whose desire to help others represents the best of small-town America. The silence she was taught and the complications of our parents’ journeys to be there for us, as best they could, is what I will take away from “Bettyville,” where she will always reside. Hers is the quiet love that outlasts the distances and lets us survive.”
Betty Hodgman passed away on July 26, 2015.
The MCB and the Ardis L. Glenn Prize are, like George Hodgman, Missouri-born. The Prize, like “Bettyville,” honors a Missouri woman of unimpeachable strength and character.
Ardis L. Glenn is an internationally known antiquarian bookseller. Prior to retirement, her shop at 1227 Baltimore in Kansas City was a favored destination for collectors of rare books and manuscripts. She is affectionately known as “The Doyenne of Kansas City,” and “The Belle of Baltimore”.
When learning that “Bettyville” would be the first recipient of the prize that bears her name, Glenn said, “The book takes knots of life and untangles them, thread by thread, so we can examine each one. Some knots are almost impossible to untangle. Think of a knot in a fine silver chain. If you pull too hard you may break the chain. It takes a patience. One tiny bit at a time. If you give up you will never be able to wear the chain. George Hodgman never gave up. He patiently worked to untangle knots for the sake of love.”
Glenn, 94, currently lives with her family in Florida, where she continues to share her lifelong love of books, the book arts and reading.
For a taste of “Bettyville,” the following is taken from the book’s Epilogue:
“Betty once threw a shoe at a tramp who dared intrude when she was alone in the sanctuary of the church in Madison practicing the organ. I think she went there to get away from me and my dad. Not long after this, on the way home from school on an extraordinary day, I caught her in a rare mood, relaxed and sitting on the front steps of the church with her sheet music, eating some sherbet from a plastic cup.
"Missouri in the springtime is pretty hard to beat, little boy," she told me as she reached to take my hand."
The Missouri Center for the Book thanks all authors and readers who participated in this competition. We sincerely appreciate having the opportunity to read, discuss, and consider some of the best books recently published relating to Missouri. A reception and formal awards ceremony is planned for September 2016.