Patron Book Review: Chili Dawgs Always Bark at Night by Lewis Grizzard

By Haywood County Library | Jul 23, 2013

Reviewed by library patron David Caldwell

Unfortunately, Lewis Grizzard has pretty much vanished from bookstores. He did pass away back in 1994, so a lot of his books are showing their age. But amazingly enough, a lot of the stuff he talks about is still relevant today. His books are collections of his newspaper articles so at times some things get repeated or covered in a slightly different way. While most of the articles are (sarcastically) funny, others are touching.

For those who may not be familiar with Lewis Grizzard, he was a Southern journalist/comedian. You can think of him as a cross between Jeff Foxworthy and Dave Barry, or perhaps Larry the Cable Guy and Andy Rooney. He often poked fun at his fellow Southerners. But he was always laughing with them, never at them. This is what a lot of people never figure out. If you are making fun of a group of which you are a member, it is not the same as an outsider doing it. A lot of the things Lewis Grizzard said could be taken the wrong way. But he was using sarcasm to prove how silly what he was talking about really was. He wasn't really agreeing with those things.

Like I pointed out earlier, Mr. Grizzard passed away in 1994. This fact makes his last article especially poignant. He talks about all of the changes he expects by the year 2000. He would have been 53 in 2000. Not only was it a shame that he didn't live to see the new century, but he was only 47 when he died. As he would have said, that wasn't nearly as old as it used to be. It also makes me wonder what he would have thought about 2013 where things that were just starting when he was alive have exploded in our culture. How would a man who was still using a typewriter in 1989 react to Twitter, Facebook and the rest of the Internet? Would he still be writing about how annoying junk mail is, but now be talking about e-mail spam? What would he say about the national debt now when he envisioned it would be so high by 2000 that we would have to sell a few states to pay it off? He would definitely have had something to say about how texting has eroded the proper use of English even more.

Yes, parts are dated now, but it is still laugh-out-loud funny in parts. Maybe I am just getting old, but reading a book talking about the concerns and problems of just over 20 years ago made me realize how much things have changed in that time. All of the devices that seem to have taken over our lives when they were meant to make them easier.

To wrap up this ramble, I am going to tell a story that I think would have appealed to Lewis Grizzard. My friend and I went to a movie theater a few days ago. When we walked into the lobby, there was a display for the movie Gatsby. I looked at my friend and said you could not pay me to see that movie. (I have never been much of a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Sorry.) My friend responded that he would also be passing on the movie since he never enjoyed the book when he had to read it in high school. (We both enjoy reading very much.) The teenage ticket taker overheard our conversation since he was taking our tickets at the time. He looked at us and in all seriousness asked us, "Is it a book?" I would have loved to have read the article that Mr. Grizzard would have written about that encounter.