Three separate novels make up this fantastic look into 1950s Texas politics and life in Austin. Written by a LBJ staffer. The characters of Arthur Fenstemaker, governor, his aide Jay McGown, and leftist Kermit appear in all 3 stories.
Book 1: The Flea Circus
Roy Sherwood is the recipient of Governor Fenstemaker’s maneuverings in this story, as the governor needs state senate help to get a bill passed. Roy is having an affair with Ouida, who is married to another state legislator. The gang goes to bars drinking pitchers of beer, and then spills out to Ouida’s country house where her husband jumps from a plane in an act of derring-do.
Book 2: Room Enough to Caper
Junior senator Neil Christiansen returns home to think about announcing his first campaign for the position (he was appointed by the governor after the senator’s death). Governor’s machinations of his opponent (shouting match at a fundraiser where opponent questions Neil’s brother’s leftist tendancies which left him dead in a South American revolutionary town) push Neil into declaring his hat into the ring. Meanwhile, tries halfheartedly to rediscover his marriage & 2 daughters while sleeping with the bookstore clerk (his brother John Tom left behind a bookstore which Neil still runs). Eventually wins re-election, but hollow victory as Andrea (his wife) is nowhere to be found by phone. Ends as he climbs onto a fountain in front of the DC capitol.
Book 3: Country Pleasures
The governor and Jay become the main focus of this story, along with Jay’s ex wife actress Vicki McGown. The governor’s party drives out to the set of a film that Vicki is working on, causing tensions between Jay & Sarah (Jay’s girlfriend & governor’s secretary) as Vicki attempts to lure Jay back home. Their daughter, Victoria Anne, shows up and Jay immediately begins planning how he can take custody of her. Vicki takes the governor, Jay, and Hoot Gibson (the chauffeur) off on a joyride to visit an old Mexican village, where the governor drunkenly signs over Texas back to the Mexicans. A nighttime walk instigated by actor Greg Calhoun to hunt jackrabbits ends with Jay/Vicki/daughter walking home and getting lost, while Greg & Sarah make out in the desert. Party at the governor’s house interrupted by the call to announce anti-segregation march at the capitol. Jay goes back to the capitol, awaits the governor to no avail. Eventually goes back to the country house where he finds the governor’s body in a bed drenched with Vicki’s perfume. Sarah cowers in a nearby bedroom in a panic.
auth=Brammer, Billy Lee