William Brammer Virginia Kirkus' Service - Essay

Virginia Kirkus' Service

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[The Gay Place] introduces a newcomer of considerable stature. But frankly we do not see [Brammer] as a major literary figure or a great discovery. The Gay Place depends too much on stock sex situations, indiscriminate changing of partners, free for alls on a superficial charge of excess liquor and license. And yet it will undoubtedly be reviewed as another inside picture of American politics—and an unsavory one on all counts. Brammer has a gift for dialogue, a sharp wit, a keen sense of posing irreconcilables. But as a story-teller he has much to learn. The Gay Place is actually three books: The Flea Circus, Room Enough to Caper and Country Pleasures. The setting throughout is presumably Texas—big, brash, and rich. The personable governor, Arthur Fenstemaker, is a constant in all three stories, and with overlapping minor characters links the three parts into a major portrait of the American political arena. And an arena it is, with victims thrown to the beasts, with shenanigans and extravaganzas arranged for the entertainment of the mob, with questionable manipulations behind the scenes, deals, wire pulling, cheap stunts…. Somehow the parts never jell, either on their own or as panels in an overall scene. And somehow one doesn't much care.

A review of "The Gay Place," in Virginia Kirkus' Service, Vol. XXIX, No. 1, January 1, 1961, p. 30.