Summary of content

Its 1979 in Memphis Tennessee, Sam South, son of second generation star Bull South, wants to make it big on the professional wrestling circuit; all to win his estranged father’s respect. Sadly, the promoter Harvey Wallbanger doesn’t see him as a top star. 

But through an audio recording of Harvey’s shadier business practices, Sam might just get the chance to prove himself after all.

Harvey Wallbanger however has his own problems micro-managing his talent. Former wrestler turned Church Pastor Bull South, who Co-owns the territory, has turned to religion.  

Now he and Harvey are at odds with one another. Hopefully he and his aide-de-camp Vixen Vegas can amend any and all problems that the lord might cause for the territory. 

‘The Golden Wonder’ Rod Golden is on the verge of losing his world title, and in turn a whole load of money. That’s something that his tearaway daughter and avaricious wife aren’t going to be too happy about.

‘The Chattanooga Nightmare’ Hex Clearfield is one of the few remaining free agents in wrestling. His services are well sought after. Sadly, his bodacious attitude and lust for women might be more than the Memphis faithful, and the Fearsome Monroeville Mauler are willing to contend with.

Both Hex and his promoter, Milton Morton may have their work cut out for them in the cut throat territory of Memphis Tennessee.

One way or another, everyone is finding out that wrestling might be ‘Fake’, but business is about to get Real in Memphis.

My Review

There aren’t a lot of wrestling books out there in the way of fiction and most are all biographies sadly, whereas Real in Memphis is not just a work of fiction, but it’s a damn good read too! This is not prose, this is poetry, a powerful cocktail of juxtaposition, Southern profanities injected with searching for the answer to the question. “Why do people wrestle?” Why go through the training and travel, when the monies bad and promoters are crooked and you’re surely going to get shafted along the way? Who not just pump gas for a living or work at a convenience store and have a safe life? There are so many layers here, I feel like I only started digging.

Well, so the story itself is a maze of episodes taken from the lives of several wrestlers from those starting out [Sam South, Dahlia Sacs] to those experienced vets [Hex Clearfield, Monroeville Mauler & Rod Golden] We jump back and forth between scenes of wrestling, hustling, sexuality, travel, race, religion, business, all the while revolving around everything that goes with it, violence, death, neglect, blackmail you name it, everything under the sun is here, and more, the constant background of moral choice against pure survival. Which outweighs which? We get to see several different perspectives of different characters, most of them colourfully doused with all kinds of realism, with rare glimpses of love here and there and this strange soberness that causes them to look up and realize what hole they’ve sunk into, but only for a moment, before returning back to the business in hand, which is of course Wrestling. The power of language is such that when you raise your head to catch a breath from reading, you’re disoriented for a while, not sure where you are and how you got there.

I perhaps the book rung true to me. As I’ve never been in the ring myself, Yet I felt this a kinship for wrestler’s that I never understood till now, it’s an escape is wrestling, You know it’s an illusion, but you don’t care. Anything goes in the ring; it’s like being in an alternative universe. it hit me in the gut, this book, and it will hit me again and again, as I plan to reread it again and again, Wrestling is a sort of drug to us fans and I’m glad there’s more to come with this story as I’m going to need another fix real soon.

I would recommend this book to any wrestling fan

Real in Memphis: A Tale of Territory, Treachery, Temerity and Turbulence

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