The first book I can remember reading on my own was Stars in my Crown by Joe David Brown, a native of Birmingham. The simple tale of a young boy being raised by his grandparents had a profound effect on me. Brown’s style of story-telling had a heavy influence on my own writing style.
Soon after the American Civil War, preacher Josiah Gray arrived in the little hamlet of Walesburg. His first stop was the saloon where he announced he would give his first sermon. Laughter and derision followed until he pulled out two pistols and laid them on the bar. “Either I speak, or these do.” You can imagine it was a quiet watering hole for the duration of his visit.
Parson Gray and his wife, Harriet, raised their grandson, John, who narrates the story. He is well-loved by most but there is friction between him and the new, young doctor and a local mine owner. The tales that follow are funny and heart wrenching, and will leave you wanting more.
In his early days, Brown worked at the Birmingham Post as a reporter and by the time he reached his twenty-first birthday he was working as the city editor at the Dothan Eagle. After the war he was at the New York Daily News and later at The Saturday Evening Post.
One of his short stories, Grandpa and the Miracle Grindstone was expanded into the novel, Stars in My Crown for which he wrote the screenplay for the 1950 movie version. Two more of his books were made into movies; Kings Go Forth (1958) and Addie Pray (1973) under the title Paper Moon. Brown died at his home near Mayfield, Georgia in 1976 less than a month before his 61st birthday.
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