LONGISLAND.COM INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR AND LONG ISLAND NATIVE, JAMES J. BROWN, ABOUT HIS NEW NOVEL "
Will the laughter stop?: Baby Boomer Chronicles
WHICH IS SET IN LONG ISLAND AND NEW YORK CITY
1. How did you come to write this book? What was your motivation?
My motivation was to preserve some of the history of the early 1960's which was a nostalgic time for me in my high school years and for many baby boomers of today. I have grandchildren now, as do many baby boomers, and they have no idea what the times were like then for teenagers coming of age and attending high school. All the chronicles in this novel are intertwined with actual historical events of the time and the popular music of the period. "Buck" Rawlins, the main character, and his "six pack" gang, with whom he shared many of his high school adventures and many a six pack of beer take you for a ride in a deuce coupe down memory lane.
2. Who does the book appeal to and why?
The book should appeal to today's baby boomers because they will relate to this time and their years of coming of age, and the teenage rite of passage. The book has a historical setting in a small Catholic High School in a small town in Long Island, NY, but it could have been any high school in a small town in any American High School of the time. But the novel should appeal to anyone, anywhere who has struggled with the comedy, the pain, the gawkiness and turmoil of coming of age and the teenage years. The characters voices in this novel could have been anyone's in high school days, when they struggled to set boundaries, to develop ethical standards, to question the existence of God, to ponder their future and the very existence of their life goals. Readers of the book will ride along with Buck's adventures, not knowing what the next day will bring, but looking forward to the next chronicle, and asking themselves, "Who will star in the movie?" See:
3. What one thing do you want readers to learn/take away from this work?
I want people to remember that the early 1960's were a time of peace and youthful fun. There was no world crisis with aids. There was no internet. There were no VCR's, DVD's DVR's, nor many of the electronic gadgets that would come later. There were long peaceful summer vacations. There was lots of laughter and pranks. The pranks were not malicious or vindictive, and the police of the time seemed to take the pranks less seriously than they do today. There were times of nude streaking, "mooning", beach parties, making out, window peeking, baseball games, other invented games, homecoming games and classroom pranks. It was a nostalgic time, and Buck takes you back there for some of his high school chronicles and adventures. There was not as much violence on the streets, and teenagers of the early 1960's were not into drugs.
4. Tell me how this book is unlike others with similar topics. What sets it apart from the crowd?
The novel is a brutally honest and frank account of the teenage rite of passage, and does not try to "soft soap" the cursing, the drinking, the sex or other activities that the characters engage in and the book is written for mature audiences. But when writing about these activities, the purpose is not to be pornographic or prurient, but to be matter of fact. As the characters engage in these activities, many for perhaps the first time, the writing tries to capture the emotions of the characters as they relate to these experiences, and many times the dialogue and situations are hilarious and unexpected. See the reviews of the book at Amazon.com
5. When and where does your story take place? [For novels -- Why did you choose this setting?]
The novel is set on Long Island, New York and in some places in New York City. The main character, Buck, and his friends live in the small Nassau County town of Williston Park, in the center of Long Island, about 22 miles from New York City. The town, even today, is well preserved with many small homes, with neatly trimmed lawns and small shops. Many of the streets in the town are named after Ivy League and small Ivy League colleges, and Buck lives on Yale Street near the town's little league field, tall water tower, and next to the Long Island Railroad tracks that whisks commuters into metropolitan New York City and its major job markets. I chose the setting because I grew up there, and have many fond memories of those years when I came of age. As a good Judge and lawyer that I am, I can neither admit nor deny that some of Buck's adventures may have an autobiographical basis.
6. What three words best describe this story? And best describe its characters?
The three words which best describe the story are nostalgia, laughter and fun. It is not a serious story, although it has its dramatic moments. It is really about the fun of teenage exploring life and trying to have a good time in life as they grow up, and trying to find a friend from the opposite sex, and trying to understand themselves, their friends, their parents, their teachers and their society and how it all works and influences their lives.
Buck as a protagonist is the kind of young man we all wanted to be. He is handsome, athletic, loyal, friendly, fun-loving and adventuresome. He is a leader, but also a risk taker, and likes to get into the action whether as the quarterback of the football team, the oldest son, the romantic in the back seat of a car at a drive-in movie, a dancer at the Valentine's Dance or at the center of a Christmas party.
His best friends form the rest of his "six pack" gang, with Hank being an adventurer who sometimes joins Buck for a "Peeping Tom" moment, and sometimes drags with Buck down the highways of Long Island. His friend, Johnny has a lot of nerve, and even shots a moon to a crowd in a fine dining establishment. Buck's friend, Pete, is like a handsome "Paul Newman" who is constantly flirting with girls, trying to get his hands in places they shouldn't be, and encouraging the "Round The Block Olympics", a hilarious adventure in Chapter 17. Billie Royalston, Buck's friend from Prominade High is the number one class prankster, and has capers where he pulls the class flag, pretends to have nose bleeds, bowls a grapefruit up the Math class aisle, and seems to be the mind behind some graduation day pranks. Buck's parents, Tom and Christine, are the loving parents of three children who guide Buck, his sister Carole and his younger brother Michael during Buck's high school years, adding stability and love to his life and the life of their children.
7. What was the most challenging part about writing this book? The most fun/rewarding?
The most challenging part of writing this novel was the dialogue and trying to keep some of it humorous and realistic. The most fun and rewarding part is that I believe the novel works on several levels, and the readers will want to ride along with Buck and his friends, and share in their adventure, their pranks, their invented games, their beach parties, their wild car rides, their car wrecks, their hospitalizations, their classroom antics and their moments of life with their families. It is a time now that is gone, but with Buck and his friends, the good times will not be forgotten. My novel will become a new kind of mantra for today's grandparents to tell other generations of Americans: "That's the way it was." I have written or edited several law books, but this was more of a challenge. See:
8. Is there anything we haven't covered here that you feel is important for people to know about your book?
The novel is easy to read and is a fast paced book that captures an important part of our country's history ----the sixties----the age of rock & roll, peace, and laughter which was the calm before the storm of the Vietnam War that changed America. There are no complex plots. Each chapter is a complete chronicle of that particular day in the life of Buck and his friends. Brown's main character, Buck, is an enduring and endearing young man. You can put the book down for a day or a week. When you pick it back up, you will be on the ride in a deuce coupe to the past again with Buck and you will be wondering what adventure he and his friends are taking you on in the next chapter. If you lived in the 1960's, this book will pull you back into your emotions and dreams of those years. If you're not a Baby Boomer, this book is an entertaining rocket ride through a great period of American history. For the most part, the book has a light humor flavor, and in America today, we need to laugh and look back on nostalgic peaceful times and remember! It is a "feel good" book.
Honorable James J. Brown
grew up in Williston Park, NY, and now is a U.S. Administrative Law Judge in Raleigh, NC. He is a successful legal author, editor and speaker. "
Will the laughter stop?: Baby Boomer Chronicles
" is his first novel and it is set on Long Island, New York. For more information on the novel, Judge Brown maintains a Web Site at
for more information about Judge Brown, go to: