Order the Book you Need to Read Now More than Ever: Leaving the Gay Place: Billy Lee Brammer and the Great Society

“[B]ooks are like wild strawberries.  You need to clear away the overgrowth and search a little to find the sweetness and the best.  Consider, for instance . . . Leaving the Gay Place by Tracy Daugherty.  The man behind the great American novel about politics and politicking”–Michael Dirda, The Washington Post “Best Books List,” 11/28/18.

A “fascinating portrait” of Billy Lee Brammer in “Tracy Daugherty’s superbly gauged and powerfully evocative new biography . . . Daugherty is too brainy and imaginative a writer to settle for decline-and-fall pathos . . . He’s the sort of biographer who leaps at chances to amplify an era’s social, cultural, and political history . . . Leaving the Gay Place is a good book about Billy Lee Brammer and a great book about the ’60s.  Daugherty’s most artful achievement is the poetry and resonance  he finds in [Lyndon] Johnson striving with might and main to make the Great Society real, only for Vietnam to do him in, at the same time that Johnson’s one-time factotum, at the cost of dissipating his literary gifts, is coming to epitomize a different America entirely.”–Tom Carson, Bookforum, Dec/Jan 2019.

“Brammer and his book . . . called [by Calvin Trillin] the best American novel about politics written in the 20th century . . . are likely to attract a fresh round of attention with the publication of Tracy Daugherty’s Leaving the Gay Place . . . Daugherty casts a fresh and insightful eye on Billy Lee as well as the politics and culture of America from the early 1950s until Brammer’s death at age 48 in 1978 . . . Some of the best sections of [the book] concern how Brammer’s interactions with [Lyndon] Johnson helped shape The Gay Place . . . Daugherty recounts Brammer’s saga and the times in which he lived in compelling fashion, which makes Leaving the Gay Place one of this year’s best nonfiction books about Texas.”–W. K. Stratton, The Dallas Morning News, 11/4/18.

“Thankfully, the literary biographer Tracy Daugherty has [written] a comprehensive and compelling account of a life lived by a unique character against the backdrop of a tumultuous era . . . [Brammer] was something of a Zelig-like figure, someone who witnessed seismic changes in American culture, often in the company of figures like Timothy Leary, Janis Joplin, and a young woman . . . who Brammer was astonished to learn was sleeping with President John F. Kennedy at the same time that she was bedding down with him.  If something important happened during Brammer’s adult life, he most likely witnessed it or knew someone involved in it or had something incisive to say about it.”–Mark McKinnon, Texas Monthly, 10/19/18.

“Tracy Daugherty’s extensive and long-overdue biography of Brammer is part poetic ode, part oral history–and always a wild ride . . . a strong, clear biography (with shades of rock ‘n’ roll memoir) . . . The story rolls along with some Brammerian lyricism, lending the book an intermittent sense of painterly detail . . . Brammer . . . is a good subject . . . and Daugherty is a worthy storyteller . . . The themes of modernity, of fractured politics and fights both within and between ideological groups certainly feel relevant . . . Most of all, Brammer’s is the tale of a changing nation.”–Andrew Roush, The Texas Observer, 9/12/18.

“A political and pop-cultural view of midcentury America in relation to the enigmatic life of a Texas-bred political journalist and novelist.  Outside of Texas and certain literary circles, Billy Lee Brammer may not evoke the cult recognition shared by his contemporaries such as Ken Kesey or Tom Wolfe.  In this entertaining and colorful new book, fiction writer and biographer Daugherty goes a long way toward elevating Brammer’s status.  He also offers a generous glimpse into the political and personal life of Lyndon Johnson . . . An engrossing, well-documented biography of a largely forgotten writer and his place within a quickly changing period of the 20th century.”–Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW, 7/31/18.

“This look at the life and times of Billy Lee Brammer, journalist, LBJ staffer, pill popper, and author of The Gay Place, a well-received 1961 novel, is thorough and intriguing . . . Daugherty benefits from having a star-studded cast to work with.  The widely varying famous people surrounding Brammer at different times include LBJ, JFK (the two shared a girlfriend), Janis Joplin, Ken Kesey, and Jack Ruby . . . Adding to the story’s Zelig-like quality, Brammer even happened–allegedly–to have been among the reporters standing nearby when Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald . . . The book benefits from input from Brammer’s daughters and ex-wives . . . [a] life . . . notable as an example of a talented life gone awry . . . “–Publisher’s Weekly, 7/17/18.

Tracy Daugherty’s new literary biography, about a remarkable man you must come to know, is available now for ordering at Powell’s, Amazon, and from the University of Texas Press.  Leaving the Gay Place:  Billy Lee Brammer and the Great Society tells a story that runs from the halls of power in Washington, D. C. to the back rooms of America’s rock ‘n’ roll venues.  It follows Billy Lee, our wayward American son, from LBJ’s office in the U. S. Senate building to Janis Joplin’s crash pads in Austin and San Francisco–from psychedelic flights in the heart-broken Heartland to the alleys of self-destruction.  Billy Lee Brammer wrote what many critics have called the finest American political novel, and he worked for a man that, in so many ways, predicted our current political atmosphere.  To understand now, you need to know then–through the eyes of Billy Lee.  Order your copy now:

https://utpress.utexas.edu/books/daugherty-leaving-the-gay-place