Pin It
Favorite

Book Review 

by John Dicker


The first 27 pages of Brad Land's memoir grabs you by the scruff of your neck and proceeds to slam you into a state of near-total obedience. Here's a writer with a voice that's at once breathless and controlled with a natural ability to combine suspense with inner monologue.


Goat begins when Land leaves a party in his South Carolina college town where his younger brother Brett is faring well with some drunken girls. Land isn't. Brett's the good-looking one for whom things seem to come so easy; Brad's the pensive, creative type. Each envies the other.


Getting into his mom's car, Land is asked for a ride by two strange men. Despite his better judgment, he agrees. They direct him to a secluded location, beat him mercilessly and drive away. Land is left a bloody pulp on the side of the road. You get the sense he's never entirely recovered.


Unfortunately, Land's chilling opener is never redeemed in the remaining pages, most of which concern his brief tenure as a goat: the pejorative for pledges of Clemson University's chapter of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. Brad seeks the closeness and the approval of his younger bro, who pledged the year before. However, his so-called Kappa brothers are the apotheosis of boilerplate frat boys: arrogant, hedonistic and downright haze-happy.


Land has garnered much praise for a willingness to explore violence from a male perspective, of laying bare so much vulnerability. However, his parallel between a violent abduction and the violence resulting from fraternity group-think is less than apparent.


Halfway through Goat, Land's portentousness becomes cloying, then cumbersome, then flat-out unbearable. A brutal attack commands our sympathy, as does the emotional interplay between brothers. But rendering a voluntary fraternity pledge with the solemnity typically reserved for Holocaust memoirs is hard to stomach. Goat is a brave book and an original one. It contains immediacy, a boatload of talent and absolutely no levity or perspective. Anti-Greek undergrads may wish to adopt it as their new manifesto.





Publication date: 03/17/04

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Odds And Ends
  • Odds And Ends

    Idaho lawmakers are pulled in lots of directions; plus, SPD weighs a "culture audit"
    • Mar 25, 2015
  • Four Days A Week
  • Four Days A Week

    Idaho schools that dropped one day a week from their schedule are saving a little money — but at what cost?
    • Mar 25, 2015
  • A County Ombudsman?
  • A County Ombudsman?

    Weighing the costs and benefits of oversight at the Spokane County Sheriff's Office
    • Mar 25, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
2015 NCAA Division 1 Woman's Regionals

2015 NCAA Division 1 Woman's Regionals @ Spokane Arena

Mon., March 30

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by John Dicker

  • Book Review

    & lt;i & Point To Point Navigation & lt;/i & By Gore Vidal & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & G & lt;/span & ore Vidal has had as many careers as any public intellectual might want: activist, novelist, essayist, screenwriter, expatriate observer and all arou
    • Dec 6, 2006
  • Fatal Attraction

    & & For 13 summers, Timothy Treadwell pitched his tent in Alaska's grizzliest bear habitat. Whether he was operating on a courage surplus or a sanity deficit depends on who you talk to, but consider that his forays were nearly all solo m
    • Jul 6, 2005
  • Book Review

    In last winter's prelude to the war in Iraq, a casual observer could have concluded that strident opposition was the stuff of street protests, op ed pages and a lone septuagenarian senator from West Virginia. Boasting 51 years in D.C., Robe
    • Jul 22, 2004
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Why Idaho kids don't go to college

    And what that means for the Gem State
    • Mar 4, 2015
  • New Blood

    Candidates are launching bids for Spokane City Council and could bring big changes to city government
    • Mar 18, 2015
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Briefs


Comment


marijuana


Publisher's Note


long reads


© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation