Burkhard Bilger vividly captures a world that lies outside the familiar images of life in the United States in the twenty-first century in eight superbly crafted essays about little-known corners of the South. It is a world in which grown men catch catfish with their bare hands, crowds of people cheer on chickens as they fight to the death, and a woman moves into a trailer home when her house burns down just so she can continue hunting 350 nights a year. Bilger records the eccentric and sometimes downright bizarre behavior he encounters with humor and wit but nary a whisper of mockery. In essays that combine history, anecdotes, and personal observations, he describes each activity, its origins, its dangers, and its pleasures. But Noodling for Flatheads is much more than a survey of unlikely pastimes. Through lively portraits of the participants, Bilger illuminates the obsessive individualism that is at the heart of the American spirit.