The Waldentown Express by HOWARD DENSON

A Novel

When Waldentown is under siege from an escaped psycho, a flood, and the chaos of moving two houses through a destroyed railroad trestle, the town is saved by the town's four "fools": a talkative drug store manager, the town drunks, and an African American

The waldentown express

In the 1980s, the Town of Waldentown in Northern Alabama is in grave danger, from a psychotic killer and severe weather (flood and tornado). But the comic novel, THE WALDENTOWN EXPRESS, tells how four “fools” come to the town’s rescue. The narrator of the novel is talkative Paul Pudley, assistant manager of Founders Drugs. This “fool” is a well-meaning but comical figure in the town, and he loves to talk about boxing and whatever pops into his mind. The second “fool” is an African American youth, Mr. Randall Brown, who travels about town carrying a steering wheel and usually running barefooted. Bill and Bob, the Waldentown drunks, are the third and fourth “fools” (though few in town can tell them apart). They and Mr. Randall Brown claim they have seen the escaped killer Jimbo Luster. As the story opens, Paul and his best friend, Luther Buffett, are trying to recover from the death of their buddy Willard Harper, who was shot to death because he was easily defeating Jimbo Luster in a “parking lot” boxing match. The town faces challenges when struck by a flood and then a tornado, but the biggest uproar occurs when Paul Pudley wants to keep his house from being torn down by having Luther’s outfit move the house to a special place on Wiggle Worm Road.

Although Paul is foolish, he is not dim but lucky as Forrest Gump is nor a country bumpkin like Will Stockdale (the character played by Andy Griffith in "No Time for Sergeants." Paul is always wondering what to say next and doesn't hear what his teacher says about the Leaning Tower of Pizza (instead of Pisa). As an assistant manager of the drug store and in charge of its lunch counter, he worries about the customers at the Leaning Tower holding on for dear life with one hand and trying to keep their pizza and Co'-Colas from flying out into space. He hears "Sixteen Chapel" instead of "Sistine Chapel" and other malaprops. 


"Sixteen" Chapel and "Sistine" Chapel sound close in English. Other languages may not lend themselves to comic confusion. The joke could be omitted . . . or the translator may think of a similar area in their languagel that can be used instead.

The "Express."  This concerns trains but may apply to bus travel. A "local" would make stops at each town or station on a route, and it generally would take more time than the "express," which will go quickly from City A to, say, City Z, skipping the little towns in between. In boxing or wrestling, the fighter who styles himself as a "Waldentown Express" would come in quickly with a lot of power.

Genre: FICTION / General

Language: English

Keywords: train wreck, flood, tall-tale, stabbing, steering-wheel, house-moving, drunkards, jilted lover, LAUGHS

Word Count: 75,800

Sales info:


Until the pandemic, sold books when I was speaking to writers' groups, book fairs, writers' conferences or festivals.


Sample text:

NOBODY WOULD ELECT ME mayor of Waldentown . . . or maybe even dog-catcher. So that’s why I built my own town in these models. At least, that’s what my wife Elsa says.

 started making these models when I was laid up in a  cast for 200. Well, it felt like it. I had slipped on a ladder while hanging a banner for Ground Hog’s Day. Everybody said it was a stupid holiday, and it took somebody foolish to bother with a banner. 

I was lying there looking at the old postcards from the twenties and thirties and started folding thick paper in the shape of the courthouse. It fell apart because my hands were so sweaty, but my buddy Luther Buffett brought me some balsa wood and model knives. I cut myself pretty good, of course, and got specks of blood all over my body cast and the bed sheets.

Do you see that rust-colored spot on the porch? That’s not my blood. That’s blood from my buddy, Luther Buffett, after a lunatic shot him. Not here. He was in the hospital for ages, and, when they let him out, he pulled something loose. Elsa saw that blood when he was visiting, and she started checking his bandages. Then Luther began bleeding like a stuck pig.

Luther got okay, and it didn’t ruin the porch. I guess there’s blood in lots of buildings in Waldentown.

You know, blood itself is bad enough, but there is nothing more devastating to the architectural heritage of a small Southern town than an energetic building committee of some danged church. My God, us Baptists would pull down the Sixteen Chapel to put in a parking lot. Elsa’s Methodists would knock down the Leaning Tower of Pizza to put up a TV antenna so we could broadcast our services throughout Alabama. The Church of Christ, or even the Nazarenes, would even bulldoze Thomas Jefferson’s Mountijello just to put in a sanctuary that would hold 1,000 worshippers instead of 999.

Book translation status:

The book is available for translation into any language except those listed below:

Already translated. Translated by Matteo Serrago

Would you like to translate this book? Make an offer to the Rights Holder!