When the Century Was Young

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Unlike many autobiographical books by writers, this one is not full of the angst involved in the struggle towards publication, nor is it a boastful accounting of the battles fought in order to get published. Instead, this reads more like a Tom Sawyerish series of adventures and misadventures that led Dee Brown to writing.

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Brown’s grandmother was a wonderful storyteller, a voracious reader, and a retired frontier schoolteacher. She introduced him to McGuffy’s readers, and he found himself addicted to the printed word from that moment on. He was well into reading Mark Twain and other classics before he got into first grade.

Since he loved reading so much, it seemed only natural that he would hang around the newspaper office. Later, he got a job working for a small newspaper in the Ozarks. He was originally hired as part-time help to print Christmas cards, moved on to running the Linotype machine, and began writing occasional stories for the paper. His stint at the newspaper did not convince him to try writing as a profession. He still loved books, though, and thought that he would be happiest as a professional librarian. So off to college he went.

The book is more than a history of Dee Brown’s writing milestones. It is an enjoyable tale written by a storyteller who has a lifetime of events to chooses from and a sense of humor that pokes as much fun at himself as anyone else. Writers might be especially fond of this book, but any reader, whether a fan of Dee Brown’s other writing or not, will find this book a pleasant diversion.

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