Stephan Lee
May 11, 2015 at 09:10 PM EDT

Dangerous When Wet

Current Status
In Season
Jamie Brickhouse
St. Martin's Press
We gave it an A-

Jamie Brickhouse’s debut checks off a lot of popular memoir topics: substance abuse, coming out, debauchery, celebrity encounters, larger-than-life parental figures. But Dangerous When Wet never feels like an Augusten Burroughs knockoff because the central characters—Brickhouse’s grande dame of a mother, Mama Jean, and Brickhouse himself—are such true originals. The story begins in Beaumont, Tex., where Brickhouse dreamed of Manhattan’s bright lights from a young age. He got a sliver of big-city glitz from Mama Jean, a Southern Auntie Mame type with big hair and a penchant for oneliners. Eventually he found his way to a cosmopolitan New York lifestyle with a job in book publishing, but an early taste for bourbon bloomed into a full-blown addiction. Mama Jean was the first person to call him on his alcoholism and the one who helped pull him out of its clutches. Brickhouse has written a chronicle of his often tumultuous but deeply loving relationship with his mother that’s as multifaceted as Mama Jean herself. Like her, it’s glamorously tragic and howlingly funny in equal measure. A–

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