Looking for Andy Griffith

A Father's Journey

By Evan Dalton Smith

224 pp., 5 x 7.5, 24 halftones, bibl

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-7898-6
    Published: May 2024
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-7899-3
    Published: April 2024

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Andy Griffith (1926-2012) is one of North Carolina’s most beloved exports, capturing America’s heart as Sheriff Andy Taylor. Evan Dalton Smith was born in the North Carolina Piedmont over four decades after Andy, just an hour south of Griffith’s hometown of Mount Airy. Both were small-town boys who grew up in similar places, where the counties were dry and the churches plentiful. But for both, there was darkness, crushed hopes, and tragedy, hidden just below the surface.

For Smith and many generations in North Carolina, Andy Griffith was like the air—everywhere, all the time, a part of daily life. Even after he left the state, Smith always felt the pull of home and the lingering ghost of Andy alongside it. This is an exploration on celebrity and the self, on home and what that means when you leave it, and why we love and admire the people we do—even if we’ve never met them—all told through the entwined lives of iconic actor Andy Griffith and writer Evan Dalton Smith. It is through Smith’s telling of Griffith’s life that he finds his own story, one that is both informed by and freed from the legacy of one of North Carolina’s most famous sons.

About the Author

Evan Dalton Smith’s writing has appeared in the LA Times, LA Review of Books, Paris Review, New Yorker, Slate, and elsewhere and has been awarded residencies at Yaddo, Millay Arts, and MacDowell.

For more information about Evan Dalton Smith, visit the Author Page.


"A poignantly candid memoir . . . . Shot through with admiration and grief for all the father figures Smith ever loved, this unique, at times wistfully lyrical memoir is a moving celebration of fatherhood as well as a warm tribute to the lessons all fathers, real and imagined, have to teach us."—Kirkus Reviews

"Smith bounces his life against Griffith’s to see where the sparks fly. Their twined lives get meted out in vignettes, in short capsules glancing on Griffith’s

career, his fan base, his cultural legacy, North Carolina history, Smith’s shambolic post-divorce existence, and, perhaps most of all, “our desire and nostalgia for things that didn’t exist . . . . A surfeit of pain courses through this book, but, as Smith reminds us, a similar river trickled through Mayberry."—Jonathan Miles, Garden & Gun

"In a narrative blending memoir and biography, Smith offers strength and hope as he recounts the image and reality of a man he admires and who struggled in some of the same ways he does. I enjoyed this book immensely."—Daniel Wallace, author of Big Fish and This Isn’t Going to End Well: The True Story of a Man I Thought I Knew

"This coming-of-middle-age story chronicles Smith’s search for validation while offering readers a profound glimpse into the complicated nature of Andy Griffith the man and Andy Griffith the character. A tender and brutal panegyric about one of America’s most beloved icons."—Lily Hoang, author of Changing and A Bestiary

“Evan Dalton Smith’s Looking for Andy Griffith is not so much a cross between biography and memoir as a gorgeous collision. In prose shot through with gentle humor and gut-wrenching grief, Smith writes about the turbulent aftermath of his divorce, all the while steering us toward the devastations and triumphs in Griffith’s life. A powerful and ingenious meditation on fatherhood, loss, and self-discovery.”—Rebecca Donner, New York Times bestselling author of All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days

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Follow the author on Twitter @EvanDaltonSmith.