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Friday, February 5, 2016

Review: Goat Mountain by David Vann

Title: Goat Mountain
Author: David Vann
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: September 2013

In the fall of 1978, on a 640-acre family ranch on Goat Mountain in Northern California, an eleven-year-old boy joins his grandfather, his father, and his father’s best friend on the family’s annual deer hunt.

Every fall they return to this dry, yellowed landscape dotted with oak, buck brush, and the occasional stand of pine trees. Goat Mountain is what this family owns and where they belong. It is where their history is kept, memories and stories that will be shared again by these men. And for the first time, the boy’s story will be added if he can find a buck. Itching to shoot, he is ready.

When the men arrive at the gate to their land, the father discovers a poacher and sights him through the scope of his gun. He offers his son a look-a simple act that will explode in tragedy, transforming these men and this family, forcing them to question themselves and everything they thought they knew.

In prose devastating and beautiful in its precision, David Vann creates a haunting and provocative novel that explores our most primal urges and beliefs, the bonds of blood and religion that define and secure us, and the consequences of our actions-what we owe for what we’ve done.
 


My thoughts:  This book is very different from the books I usually read and such am sure that I will not do it justice with my review.  While beautifully written, the themes and essence of this book are dark and tragic.  It explores the darker side of human nature through an 11-year-old boy, his father, grandfather and Tom, a family friend. 

"My left shoulder slammed against the ground over and over, and I was being shaken loose, gripping with that arm, and I would have let go if not for my grandfather watching.  I had lost the desire to kill.  I would have reversed time and not fired my rifle, let the buck leap into the brush and escape.  I felt remorese, though I had no word for that at the time or even any possibility of understanding the concept.  We were put here to kill.  That was immutable.  It was family law and the law of the world.  And I reached for my knife because my grandfather was there to enforce.  But who I was had changed.  From that moment on, every kill would be bitter to me.  Every kill would be something forced, something I did not want. And that's what would make me human. To kill out of obligation, to kill even when I did not want to."  (p150)
The book is narrated by the 11-year-old boy and is told 30 years after the incident has happened.  The relationship between the boy, his father and grandfather is complicated. While they thought they knew each other, the events that transpired on that fateful hunting trip proved otherwise. How well do we really know each other when all pretense is wiped away and we are stripped bare of everything that has come before? When our actions have changed the course of more than just our life, how will those we love react?  Will it bond them or break them?  With strong Christian undertones, these questions and more are explored in Goat Mountain.

While this is not a light read, and I can't say an enjoyable read because of the subject matter, it is one that I couldn't put down and will definitely stay with me. 



~I originally received this book through Edelweiss for review, but was unable to read it at that time, so I obtained it from the library for my current review.~






knew each other

2 comments:

bermudaonion said...

That sounds like a tragic story. I'm making note of it because I'm drawn to stories like that at times.

Vicki said...

I hope my library has this. It sounds good even if it is tragic.

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