Thank you to storySouth for their special feature on FIGHT SONGS
in their 20th Anniversary issue,
including this interview with Travis Mulhauser
and this review by Glenn Bertram.
“The story showcases Southern’s wit and warmth—two hallmarks of his prose. . . . Where other writers might opt for navel-gazing, Southern takes a different approach. He fuses the outward with the inward, ruminating on the role of fate in formations of identity. He understands just how fraught these formations are . . . And he’s unafraid to complicate his own narrative, when necessary . . . In Fight Songs, constructions of self are deeply felt, yet never fixed.”
— Glenn Bertram
Order your copy of FIGHT SONGS from your own local independent bookseller,
or from one of these stores, which may still have signed copies:
Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC
Park Road Books, Charlotte, NC M Judson Booksellers, Greenville, SC
The Alabama Booksmith, Homewood, AL
Ernest & Hadley Booksellers, Tuscaloosa, AL
A Cappella Books, Atlanta, GA Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC
Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC Malaprop’s, Asheville, NC
Hub City Bookshop, Spartanburg, SC City Lights Bookstore & Cafe, Sylva, NC
Little Professor Book Center, Homewood, AL Thank You Books, Birmingham, AL
FIGHT SONGS: A STORY OF LOVE & SPORTS IN A COMPLICATED SOUTH
A wry and witty commentary on college sports and identity in the complicated social landscape of the South.
Ed Southern, lifelong fan of the Wake Forest University Demon Deacons, the smallest school in the NCAA’s Power 5, set out to tell the story of how he got tangled, in vines of history and happenstance, with the two giants of his favorite sport: the Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers. He set out to tell how a North Carolina native crossed the shifty, unmarked border between Tobacco Road and the Deep South. He set out to tell how the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant, from beyond the grave, introduced him to his wife, a Birmingham native and die-hard Alabama fan.
While he was writing that story, though, 2020 came along.
Suddenly his questions had a new and urgent focus: Why do sports mean so much that so many will play and watch them in the face of a global pandemic? How have the South’s histories shaped its fervor for college sports? How have college sports shaped how southerners construct their identities, priorities, and allegiances? Why is North Carolina passionate about college basketball when its neighbors to the South live and die by college football? Does this have anything to do with North Carolina’s reputation as the most “progressive” southern state, a state many in the Deep South don’t think is “really” southern? If college sports really do mean so much in the South, then why didn’t everyone down south wear masks or recognize that Black Lives Matter, even after the coaches told us to?
Fight Songs explores the connections and contradictions between the teams we root for and the places we plant our roots; between the virtues that sports are supposed to teach and the cutthroat business they’ve become; between the hopes of fans and the demands of the past, present, and future.
“I promise that you have never read a book that so beautifully and intimately reveals the soul at the center of sports fandom—that understands so fully what it means to root. Fight Songs is a book about love and history and culture. Its truths are arrived at honestly and without pretense and it is, quite simply, one of the greatest sports books you will ever read.”
—Travis Mulhauser, Sweetgirl
Photo by Jess Blackstock Studios