In this dark but delightfullY comic memoir from a former book publicist, three-martini lunches seem to be Mad Men glamour at first, but are soon exposed as a sign of alcoholism.
By Jason Brantley
Twirl your imaginary phone cord because you’ll want to stay connected to Dangerous When Wet (St. Martin’s Press; $26): former book publicist extraordinaire Jamie Brickhouse’s dark but comically delightful memoir about nights filled with Peggy Lee, irrational sex, and how the disease of alcoholism can squeeze the life out of the human soul. It’s all here. The details of his intense relationship with his mother, Mamma Jean, a larger than life woman with larger-than-life hair is the central story. That relationship is one many will identify with – that of a fiercely domineering woman who only wants the best for her son – but often times only has her own interests at heart.
Also key is the omnipresence of alcohol in Brickhouse’s life before he decided to get sober, along with his experiences of coming of age in the era of HIV/AIDS, young love, and coming out. Brickhouse takes us through creepy and irreverent New York City nightlife, too. Many will love to recall the clubs and bars he used to frequent.
Which is not to say the struggle is without glam. Brickhouse includes a Rolodex of Hollywood movie glamour, much of which he identified with as a child and has become an expert on. The chic days of old-school New York City publishing – three-martini lunches and office antics – will have many referring to Mad Men to research. Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Fontaine, Esther Williams and Joan Crawford appear smoking cigarettes and enjoying drinks with him – through his boozy movie memories, that is.
His ups and downs are chronicled in such an honorable way that after you read this memoir, you’ll want to shake his hand. Just don’t take him out for a drink; buy him dinner instead.
Last modified: July 27, 2017