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Billy Lee Brammer, The Gay Place, 560 pp., U. of Texas Press, 1995 edition
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by Charlie Finch

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of the greatest American political novel ever written, The Gay Place, by William Brammer. The book is divided into three novellas, The Flea Circus, Room Enough to Caper, and Country Pleasures. They tell the story of Democratic politics in Texas in the 1950s, circling around the majestic figure of Governor Arthur Fenstemaker, based on Lyndon Johnson, for whom Brammer (known as "Billie Lee") wrote speeches, before founding the liberal paper the Texas Monthly and tragically dying of an overdose in 1979. The Gay Place was Brammer's only novel.