Cocks and Crocs in a Southern Sportsman's Sketches

Booze, drugs, and sex may be the universal pastimes, but sport (in its broadest sense) has always packed the most cultural DNA, rising in near proportion to a game's obscurity. If this isn't Alabama native Michael Swindle's gambit, it could be. Still, just as a man boils the death-stink off last season's trap to catch a beaver, the prodigal Southern son returns only when things get more sanitary, beginning with the death of his father.
Swindle: Ass pocket protector
photo: North Atlantic Books
Swindle: Ass pocket protector

Details

Slouching Towards Birmingham
By Michael Swindle
Frog, 180 pp., $11.95

Consequently, that twinge in Swindle's gut resonates sympathetically in his prose—which is steady and congenial, always first-person p.o.v. but rarely self-indulgent—as he watches a bloody cockfight (the birds "face death . . . with their heads up, their chests out") or remembers the Cajun trapper and gator hunter who "wrestl[ed] a living from the swamp." Most of these stories appeared in some form in the Voice between 1994 and 2000, and their novelty suffers with compressed reading, but taken apiece (except for a few back-page duds), they're rare, intimate looks at official-stat-lacking shadow sports. Here are ass pockets of 100-proof culture and fiercely geographical fandomania, in which spectacle-bent naysayers are invariably outnumbered by those shit-bent on a good time or made whole in their atavistic hatred of the Auburn Tigers.

 
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