When I lived in Atlanta I was spoiled. Every week – usually several days a week – a cavalcade of the nation’s best LGBTQ authors would pass through, reading their new books at the famed but now-defunct OutWrite Books in Midtown or other stores. There is no doubt that San Antonio is barely a blip on the national LGBTQ literary radar and that has been a disappointment.
I’ve been in the book business for more than 25 years, and in moving to Texas I’ve been surprised to see such a shortage of books about LGBTQ life and history in the Lone Star State. For a state so large, anchored by cities like San Antonio, Austin, Houston, and Dallas, LGBTQ history is profoundly unreported – and, as a result, certainly misunderstood in many circles – when compared to other parts of the nation including the Deep South from Mississippi to Virginia.
We have an opportunity to help fix that this Thursday at The Twig Book Shop. Acclaimed debut author, and Trinity University alumnus, Jaime Brickhouse returns to his native Texas to read from his new memoir, “Dangerous When Wet” at the book shop located in the Pearl on Thursday, May 14 at 5:30 p.m.
The novel is ultimately a testimony to his adoring mother, Mama Jean – a matriarchal Texas woman with the flair of Elizabeth Taylor and bluster of Auntie Mame. She was strong, flamboyant and outlandish, and she adored her son and wanted him to remain her little boy forever. From a young age, however, he longed for the drink she held in her hand and to discover his own path to recreate her fabulousness, or discover his own. That path led to New York and a star-studded career in the publishing and entertainment industries. The journey was laden with challenges also, and he struggled to overcome alcoholism while coping with an HIV diagnosis.
Brickhouse wrestles about reconciling a life lived fast and brazenly but at a distance with moving past the barriers to open disclosure to family members. From coming out while a freshman at Trinity to sharing his addiction and HIV status with his mother who held her son on a pedestal, he navigates familiar terrain with great finesse poignantly laced with a mix of camp and hometown humor.
Storytelling in the South has a distinct flavor, and one can spot Brickhouse’s Deep South roots as he spins tales that hit as simultaneously outrageous and thoroughly authentic. Equal parts “Steel Magnolias” and an evening with David Sedaris, it is not a surprise to find reviewers nationally making writerly comparisons of Brickhouse to Mary Karr and Augusten Burroughs.
This is a rare and unique treat for San Antonio: not-to-be-missed stories about the Texas we think we know, and some we may be surprised to know, by a Texan-come-home to come-clean.
Brickhouse is an acclaimed journalist having written for The New York Times and Huffington Post among other publications. He worked in publishing for more than 20 years, was a stand-up comedian, and has done voiceovers for the television show, “Beavis and Butthead.” He is a native of Beaumont, Texas and lives in New York City with his partner, Michael.