Wednesday, July 15, 2015


I just finished two books, both about parents.  Well... about parents, but the books are very different.  Bettyville is a memoir written by George Hodgman, who leaves New York City to return to his hometown, Paris, Missouri, to take care of his aging mother.  Hodgman, a gay man, has never felt like he belonged in Paris (Missouri) and his relationship with his mother is at times awkward, funny, and glorious.  Bettyville is about growing up, about how our parents raise us, and how they can be as imperfect as we are.  You will fall in love with Betty.  And her son, too.  It’s a beautiful book.  If you’re on Facebook, check out George Hodgman’s author page. 

Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva by Rosemary Sullivan is also about a parent... if your parent happens to be Joseph Stalin.  Look at the cover of the book, do you feel a chill?  What would it be like to grow up with Stalin as your father?  Svetlana Alliluyeva's life wasn’t easy (not exactly a shock), she had several marriages, she defected and came to the United States, then went back to Russia – yes, extraordinary and tumultuous.  And Stalin as a parent?  Controlling, remote, abusive, although you realize that there were moments where he did love his daughter.  As Svetlana Alliluyeva grows up, she becomes more and more aware of who her father is and it's a horrible realization.  But in spite of everything, she survived.



  1. On the subject of parents ... I eagerly await your thoughts on "Go Set a Watchman."

    1. I don't know if I can read it. TKAM is one of my favorite books and this "new" one... I don't know. Have you read it yet?

  2. Given the circumstances of the publication of "Go Set a Watchman," I resisted. But I just couldn't not read it (I'm at the 3/4 mark). Where TKAM is transcendent, Watchman is profane. Where TKAM offers hope, Watchman is just painful. So far, at least. It's all so odd, seeing as Watchman is what? the original manuscript from which Mockingbird was extracted, right? It's easy to understand why Harper Lee was adamant that this work never be published. If TKAM is the bible you clutched in your growing-up years, beware: Once you've read Watchman, you can't go back. On the other hand, a lot can happen in 70 pages, and I could be completely wrong about all of this.