The novel is set in Brown’s hometown of Jasper and focuses on two brothers who use love and laughter to overcome a lifetime of challenges.
The book, which deals with adult themes and uses adult language, has been described as “violent, irreverent, sarcastic, vulgar, lustful and sacrilegious. It is also hilarious, hopeful, uplifting and truthful.”
One Amazon reviewer compared Brown’s skillful use of entendre to that of Flannery O’Connor and Harper Lee.
However, it was another well-known Alabama author, Fannie Flagg, who encouraged Brown’s writing talent.
Brown took the rough draft of “Better Days in Beulah Land” with him to the Santa Barbara Writers Conference four years ago.
“It was very well-received. In fact, I won first place in humor writing,” Brown said.
Flagg, whose career was launched when she won first place in fiction at the conference in 1978, made several suggestions that Brown incorporated into his revisions.
Brown finished the manuscript in his spare time over the course of several years. He recently retired from his position with the Jasper City School system but continues to teach at Bevill State Community College.
A friend suggested that Brown consider publishing his book through Amazon. Earlier this month, “Better Days in Beulah Land” became available as an e-book for Kindle users.
The title is derived from a verse in Isaiah that refers to the Promised Land as Beulah. In the book, the mother of brothers Burton and Cameron Kane names the family’s home “Beulah Land” after they relocate to Smith Lake.
The cover of the book is the burning of Beulah Land, which is later restored by one of the brothers.
Brown said he wanted to set the story in Jasper both because of his love for the city and because he wanted the characters and events to ring true.
Other Alabama landmarks that appear in the novel include the Vulcan statue in Birmingham, the University of Alabama and the Governor’s Mansion in Montgomery.
“I chose Southern locales that I was familiar with and could hear the vibe and the cadence of it within my head. I thought that would give the work a lot of authenticity,” Brown said.