So begins this astonishing memoir—by turns both darkly comic and deeply poignant—about this native Texan's long struggle with alcohol, his complicated relationship with Mama Jean, and his sexuality. From the age of five all Brickhouse wanted was to be at a party with a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other and all Mama Jean wanted was to keep him at that age, her Jamie doll forever. A Texan Elizabeth Taylor with the split personality of Auntie Mame and Mama Rose, always camera-ready and flamboyantly outspoken, Mama Jean haunted him his whole life, no matter how far away he went or how deep in booze he swam.
Brickhouse's journey takes him from Texas to a high-profile career in book publishing amid New York's glamorous drinking life to his near-fatal descent into alcoholism. After Mama Jean ushers him into rehab and he ultimately begins to dig out of the hole he'd found himself in, he almost misses his chance to prove that he loves her as much as she loves him. Bitingly funny, raw, and insightful, Dangerous When Wet is the unforgettable story of a unique relationship between a son and his mother.
Blending technical information with personal stories and humor, this memoir reminisces about a life well lived.
This is an extremely pleasant walk through reminiscences in the life of a true neurosurgical giant. Colleagues and laity will gather much from his lifewell-lived and hard-workedand the sage lessons derived from the collisions of past and present, success and failure, hope and despair, are eloquently described in this story of dedication and devotion from the humble humanity of this remarkable man. I highly recommend the read.
John L. D. Atkinson MD, FACS, Professor of Neurosurgery, Mayo Clinic Rochester, Minnesota
This book is an inspiring odyssey. Its elegant prose describes the character and accomplishments of a premier neurosurgeon. His intellect and surgical prowess are responsible for important technical and conceptual advances in the challenging field of neurological surgery. This is a chronicle of a true surgeons surgeon, a valued educator, and a role model for many of his peers.
Edward R. Laws, MD, FACS, Professor of Neurosurgery, Harvard Medical School
For thirty years Karr has also taught the form, winning teaching prizes at Syracuse. (The writing program there produced such acclaimed authors as Cheryl Strayed, Keith Gessen, and Koren Zailckas.) In The Art of Memoir, she synthesizes her expertise as professor and therapy patient, writer and spiritual seeker, recovered alcoholic and “black belt sinner,” providing a unique window into the mechanics and art of the form that is as irreverent, insightful, and entertaining as her own work in the genre.
Anchored by excerpts from her favorite memoirs and anecdotes from fellow writers’ experience, The Art of Memoir lays bare Karr’s own process. (Plus all those inside stories about how she dealt with family and friends get told— and the dark spaces in her own skull probed in depth.) As she breaks down the key elements of great literary memoir, she breaks open our concepts of memory and identity, and illuminates the cathartic power of reflecting on the past; anybody with an inner life or complicated history, whether writer or reader, will relate.
Joining such classics as Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, The Art of Memoir is an elegant and accessible exploration of one of today’s most popular literary forms—a tour de force from an accomplished master pulling back the curtain on her craft.