A former New York publishing executive’s darkly humorous memoir about the difficult relationship he had with his mother and the alcoholism that came to define his life.
Even as a child, Texas native Brickhouse knew that all he wanted was “to be at a cocktail party with a drink in one hand [and] a cigarette in the other.” He also knew that he wanted as much of his larger-than-life mother Mama Jean’s attention as he could get. By the time the author was a teenager, Mama Jean had introduced him to both champagne cocktails and a dazzling New York world she encouraged him to make his own. She also forced him into the role of her “happy little prince,” the little boy who could never express his true feelings. In the meantime, Brickhouse indulged liberally—and at times dangerously—with gay sex and alcohol, while Mama Jean showered him with expensive trips, clothes and a private college education. But her generosity had a price: Anything he did that his mother didn’t like “meant that [he] didn’t love her.” Brickhouse moved to New York to live out the dream to which Mama Jean had helped him give birth. Yet for all his outward signs of success in the publishing industry, in private, the author drank heavily, experimented with drugs, routinely cheated on his long-suffering partner and eventually contracted HIV. Only after a less-than-glamorous film noir–inspired suicide attempt, a stint in rehabilitation—funded by Mama Jean—and his mother’s dramatic decline and death did an older, wiser and newly sober Brickhouse realize the truth. Not only would Mama Jean always be “a bigger star to [him] than Joan Crawford or Elizabeth Taylor,” but Brickhouse would never be able to outrun his attachment to her because it “was love in its purest form.”
Unabashedly campy but always candid.