Southern revival

Journalism alum is reintroducing Lewis Grizzard’s humor through digital media

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Lewis Grizzard probably would chuckle over the job he left for Jason Chatraw.

The author, humorist and lover of all things Southern and UGA pecked out his columns on a typewriter and once wrote about his hatred of computers.

So when Chatraw (ABJ ’96) bought the rights to make e-books out of some of Grizzard’s paper tomes, he had to input the individual pages into the computer.

“He didn’t leave any files behind, so we had to take his books and make scans,” says Chatraw, who launched Green E-Books in 2010 from his home in Boise, Idaho. “We were determined to bring back his books and give them a new facelift for the next generation.”

Chatraw says his fascination with Grizzard began when he was growing up in Orangeburg, S.C., reading syndicated versions of Grizzard’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution columns.

At UGA Chatraw twice finished second in a sports-writing contest named for Grizzard (ABJ ’64) and often found himself walking in the former columnist’s steps.

He read about how Grizzard lived in Russell Hall, about how he didn’t have a car, about how he walked across campus in the rain and about how he worked at the Athens Daily News.

“One day when I was a freshman living in Russell Hall, I put down one of his books and I had to walk across campus in the rain—I didn’t have a car—to work at the Athens Banner-Herald,” Chatraw says. “I was walking on the same path he had walked, and it was surreal to do it. It endeared me more to his writing and the experiences he went through.”

He spent about eight months negotiating with Dedra Grizzard, who was married to the author when he died in 1994, for the rights to four books. They worked out a deal, and Chatraw soon began converting Don’t Bend Over in the Garden Granny, You Know Them Taters Got Eyes; If Love Were Oil, I’d Be About a Quart Low; I Took a Lickin’ and Kept on Tickin’ And Now I Believe in Miracles and When My Love Returns from the Ladies Room, Will I Be Too Old To Care? to digital files. They are available for download on Kindle, Nook, iPad, Kobo and OverDrive, among others.

Since then, Chatraw has gotten the rights to eight more of Grizzard’s books. He also is compiling many of Grizzard’s college football jokes and stories for a special edition.

“I get to vicariously pay homage to one of my literary heroes and keep him alive for generations to come,” Chatraw says. “In a way, it’s an honor, a labor of love. I don’t want to see that flavor of the South lost. I want to see it continue on, for the next generation to cherish.”

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