Goat: A Memoir

( 43 )


Reeling from a terrifying assault that has left him physically injured and psychologically shattered, nineteen-year-old Brad Land must also contend with unsympathetic local police, parents who can barely discuss "the incident" (as they call it), a brother riddled with guilt but unable to slow down enough for Brad to keep up, and the feeling that he'll never be normal again. When Brad's brother enrolls at Clemson University and pledges a fraternity, Brad believes he's being left behind once and for all. Desperate ...
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Reeling from a terrifying assault that has left him physically injured and psychologically shattered, nineteen-year-old Brad Land must also contend with unsympathetic local police, parents who can barely discuss "the incident" (as they call it), a brother riddled with guilt but unable to slow down enough for Brad to keep up, and the feeling that he'll never be normal again. When Brad's brother enrolls at Clemson University and pledges a fraternity, Brad believes he's being left behind once and for all. Desperate to belong, he follows. What happens there - in the name of "brotherhood," and with the supposed goal of forging a scholar and a gentleman from the raw materials of boyhood - involves torturous late-night hazing, heartbreaking estrangement from his brother, and, finally, the death of a fellow pledge. Ultimately, Brad must weigh total alienation from his newfound community against accepting a form of brutality he already knows too well.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Brad Land is a young man in search of escape, and looking forward to attending Clemson University with his younger brother, Brett. But one night, as he's leaving a party, Brad crosses paths with the wrong people and is brutally assaulted; his wounds are not only physical but psychological as well.

In the lonely, terrifying aftermath of the attack, Brad licks his wounds at home. Brett has gone ahead to Clemson and quickly joins a fraternity. Initially derailed by the crime, Brad's college plans materialize, and he is rapidly swept up in Brett's world of rush parties. Brad endures cruel, dehumanizing hazing rituals in an attempt to live up to his younger brother. But to Brad's dismay, Brett keeps his distance; he understands that acceptance in the fraternal world can only be won alone.

Land's spare language, drawing comparisons to A Million Little Pieces and Fight Club, never loses the delicate thread of complicated emotions he feels, perfectly highlighting the vulnerability of a young man forced to face the violence inflicted upon him. When the fraternity brothers turn their unique brand of savagery on one of Brad's fellow pledges with disastrous results, he must confront a painful choice: to accept the false refuge of becoming one of "them" or to cast himself out, seeking courage and strength in kindness, rather than in "belonging." (Winter/Spring 2004 Selection)

The New York Times
Perhaps Land should be applauded for refusing to fall into jostling step with male memoirists like Augusten Burroughs (Running With Scissors), a bawdy raconteur who turns personal humiliation into a great occasion to entertain, or James Frey, whose A Million Little Pieces is a staccato, tough-guy recounting of his physical (not psychological) feats of endurance as a recovering Olympian substance abuser. Land is more focused on his psychological weakness, and this is daring; it risks his appearing unsympathetic or even pathetic. Considering the book's maudlin temperament, and the way the interior landscape of an unstable mind overpowers external events, Goat actually has more in common with an autobiographical novel by a dead female poet -- namely, The Bell Jar. — Heidi Julavits
Publishers Weekly
With a uniquely hip narrative style, gritty with plenty of heart, Land recounts what it's like to pledge a fraternity in order to gain his peers' respect and admiration. Complicating matters, Land has never recovered from an earlier assault, in which the trusting and na ve 20-year-old picks up two strangers in need of a ride, who proceed to rob, beat and abduct him. Traumatized, Land doesn't receive sympathy from police, who insist the kidnapping must be linked to wrongdoing on his part. His assailants, whom Land wryly nicknames "the smile" and "breath," are later captured, but the crime's emotional fallout dogs Land as he tries to move on, deepening his attachment to his younger, self-centered brother, Brett, who betrays him at every chance, including going after his fragile sibling's girlfriend. When Brett leaves for Clemson and joins a fraternity, Kappa Sigma, the author follows, thinking it will help him fit in with others and heal, but barbaric hazing rituals of humiliation and intimidation revive the phobias linked to his abduction. As the abuse against new pledges ("goats") continues, Land questions the value of the frat group's thinking, the surrendering of one's will to violence and his desperate need to belong, especially after another pledge dies of a heart attack following an intense round of hazing. In the end, Land, now 27, walks away from it all, reclaiming himself from his dark past and brutally bleak present. Immensely readable, Land's tough yet tender book speaks to the fears and isolation of young alienated adults with compelling power, candor and compassion. Agent, Bill Clegg. (On sale Feb. 17) Forecast: A national print and radio campaign, ad blitz in the leading alternative media and an online outreach to students could make Land's book a hit with the college crowd and recent grads. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This is the story of two brutal and shocking events-the night Land was beaten and left for dead at age 19 and, a few years later, the semester of hazing and torture that he suffered while pledging a fraternity at Clemson University (SC). In the hands of a less skilled writer, it would be too gruesome for many readers. Land, however, writes with artistry and gives meaning to the violence, in turn speaking to the darkest side of American life. His inability to say no results in his near-fatal beating (a couple of strangers ask him for a ride from a party)-and his resultant mental incapacitation perhaps allows him to tolerate the abuse during pledging. This is a scathing indictment of the entire fraternity system at Clemson: beatings, sexual escapades, and rampant alcoholism are the norm on campus. Throughout the rush, Land is the "goat," the pledge who never fits in, and underlying his angst is his inability to "hook up" with women. The estrangement from his younger brother, already in the fraternity, builds, and in the end, a different pledge dies of an alleged heart attack (he was only 18). This is one of those impossible-to-put-down books, though readers may need to take a breather from the violence and graphic language; conversations and comments are as brutally frank as the story itself. This will be widely read as one of the first books about assaults on men. Clemson should not be proud. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/03.]-Linda Beck, Indian Valley P.L., Telford, PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Land's memoir about fraternity hazing and his relationship with his charismatic, more confident younger brother, Brett, has received a lot of publicity. However, in spite of all the hype, it is not well written and it's unlikely to resonate with most teens. Brad, 19, recovering from a vicious assault by two hitchhikers he picked up, decided to follow Brett to Clemson University. The steely, mysterious sophomore was a Kappa Sigma, and an admiring, uncomfortable-in-his-own-skin Brad decided to pledge the same frat. Teens will either identify and sympathize with Brad or become increasingly annoyed with his naivete. Getting Vaseline smeared in one's hair and being pegged with footballs will probably (if unfortunately) not seem terribly out of the ordinary-as hazing rituals go-to most readers. To Brad, they were acts of savagery. When he bought a pack of cigarettes and the cashier told him that he was going to die, he took her for a modern-day Cassandra with an important message from the dark beyond. Brad dropped out of rush. In what would be an embarrassingly bad finale if this memoir were fiction, a man from his pledge class died of a heart attack the day after he was informed that he hadn't been accepted into the fraternity. Brad blamed the Kappa Sigs. The best part of the book is Land's description of his relationship with his brother, which is reminiscent of Rich Wallace's treatment of the best friends in Wrestling Sturbridge (Knopf, 1997). However, that title runs circles around Goat.-Emily Lloyd, Rehoboth Beach Public Library, DE Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A mugging and a hazing, both ferociously vile, have their victim closing on the edge of sanity in his debut memoir of two abominable years. The way Land tells it, in clipped and painful sentences, he has always been a bit rickety, jumpy and shaky at even the best of times. These are not the best of times. The story starts when he gives a lift to a couple of strangers, who proceed, in an extended, excruciating assault, to beat him into jelly. Land describes the attack in writing that stutters, turns back on itself, repeats, and then surges forward in erratic strides. He calls his assailants "breath" and "smile," the only things he remembers about them. His physical recovery is slow, while his emotional recovery stalls; he's too shaken to follow through on a pre-beating plan to apply with his much-loved younger brother for a transfer from their hometown college to Clemson University, 70 miles away in South Carolina. Brett goes anyway, and when Brad finally makes it to Clemson eight months later, he senses a poison in the air, much of it radiating from his brother's fraternity. Compelled by forces he doesn't understand-obligation, tradition, security-he submits to the pledging process, which includes a ritualistic, sadistic hazing that closely reprises his experience with smile and breath, enhanced by toxic levels of alcohol. He finally walks away in a moment of grace so contrary to all that went before that the reader wants to shout as Brad asserts his free will and self-preservation: "I pass from them quietly, and then nothing's left. No one remembers my name." Another pledge is not so lucky and dies of a heart attack at age 18. How Land can stand to revisit these miseries with suchdelirious pungency would be a wonder, except that his sense of relief at having survived them is palpable. Fine, grim work.
From the Publisher
“This is a breathtaking book, a rough ride over the emotions of adolescence and the brutal business of being an American man. Land's voice is distinct, melancholic, and original; the book is a wonderful debut.”–Susan Orlean

"An incredible memoir–riveting and relentless, shocking, brutal, just savagely good. And yet. Beautiful and brave." –Augusten Burroughs, bestselling author of Running with Scissors

"This is the most astonishing debut I've ever read. Goat is beguiling, brutal and tender at once. By giving us an honest portrait of the love between brothers, Brad Land holds up a mirror to the lie of false fraternity." -Haven Kimmel, author of A Girl Named Zippy

"At once harrowingly violent and heartachingly tender, Brad Land's memoir throws you into a world where brutality, love, loneliness, anger, brotherhood and a desire to belong are inextricably and fatally entwined. As a narrator, Land is able to articulate his inner turmoil with an honesty that is as riveting as it is disarming. Goat should be required reading for every scared, isolated, naive teenage boy who thinks that joining a fraternity might solve his problems. And required reading for anyone who's ever loved someone they didn't understand." -Thisbe Nissen, author of The Good People of New York

“Written with a heart seared with pain and a pen filled with passion, Brad Land's tale is street-fight brutal and gut-wrench tragic. It is a book that every teenager should read and every parent must read, especially those of us with sons. Goat never lets go. It rips and shreds us with blade-sharp dialogue and a relentless pace, all the while exposing the bravest of souls and the most gentle of hearts.” –Lorenzo Carcaterra, author of Gangster and Street Boys      

“Brad Land's talent as a writer is his ability to be completely vulnerable on the page, yet command absolute control over his language. It is taut, lean, and suggestive of a highly refined intelligence grounded in instinct. Goat is a book of great muscularity, bearing witness to the violence our culture enacts in the name of ritual. Brad Land shows us through the strength of his storytelling that cruelty not only kills, but maims our souls, one victim at a time.” –Terry Tempest Williams, author of Leap and Red– Passion and Patience in the Desert

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402572005
  • Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
  • Publication date: 1/20/2004
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 4.16 (w) x 6.98 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Brad Land studied creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where he received his M.F.A., and Western Michigan University, where he served as nonfiction editor of Third Coast. He has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony and now lives in South Carolina.

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Read an Excerpt


This is how it goes:

We’re getting floored at a beginning-of-the-semester party. Me, my younger brother Brett, these three people we came with. At this old fraternity house. Two stories with a big front porch and a backyard with a chain-link fence.

Brett’s on the porch standing next to me. People moving all over the place. Like cells. Everything pulsing. All sweat and smoke. The house is breathing.

These two girls come up. Just stand there looking us over. One of the girls looks at Brett like she loves him already. She’s short and has long hair pulled into a ponytail. Legs all muscled like a soccer player’s. She’s wearing a Zeppelin T-shirt with a hole beneath the neck cuff. The other girl’s standing beside her all bucktoothed and shaky. Got a tattoo on her left shoulder blade. Something swirled and tribal. Her arms crossed. I give her a smoke and she nods, cups one hand around the lighter I hold out and I can tell she’s drunk by the way her eyes wobble, the way she squints them against the porch lights. The other girl rubs the shaky one’s back, runs her hand down and pauses in the bare patch of skin between her jeans and top. The shaky girl looks her over and smiles. Brett tells them to kiss. They look at each other and laugh and then the shaky girl moves toward the other one, puts a hand around her waist and holds the cigarette out to the side. Her tongue’s out and inside the other’s mouth and they lock together, wet cheeks pulsing with the overhead light. The shaky one steps back and pulls on the smoke, exhales and looks at Brett. I’m staring at the two girls and the shaky girl asks if that was okay, and Brett says yeah that was cool, and I nod, say yeah good, and then Brett says do it again and they just laugh. The short girl says you don’t even know us and Brett says so and cocks back his beer. When he brings it down, she takes the beer from Brett and drinks. Hands it back. And now the shaky girl looks at me like she knows something about me with my skinny arms and black hair all matted from the hot air outside. Brett’s talking to the short girl and I don’t know what to say with this shaky one staring at me. The short one leans, whispers in her friend’s ear. They turn and walk away.

Brett tells me they want us to come over later.

I nod like it’s standard.

School’s two days away, and for both Brett and me, it’s the whole college-in-the-same-town-you-went-to-high-school-in thing. It’ll be my second year, Brett’s first, and right now I’m not too happy with this small liberal arts school because it’s backward and I went to high school with most everyone there, but for right now, just right now, it’s okay because my brother’s here.

I couldn’t hack school last year at another college because I was lonely and I failed most everything. I tell everyone it was from the drugs or the alcohol but the truth is I was just lonely and cried all the time and lived in an old house with lots of dust.

This is what they say:

Didn’t like it there man? That place is fucking cool, fucking badass town man, why’d you leave man, I mean why’d you come back here?

This is what I say:

Too much, just too much.

And then they say this:

Yeah man I understand that I mean that town does it to the best of them man, gets everybody all fucked up with all that shit they got there, there’s so much shit there man, you know I understand that shit really.

And Brett gave up a soccer scholarship upstate. He didn’t want to do the summer workout and couldn’t make up his mind about anything, and it’s lame to be here and we know it, but it’s cool and livable for a little while because just a few minutes ago Brett and I decided to leave here next semester. We got the idea a few days ago when we helped a friend move in at Clemson where everything’s huge and it’s where my grandfather went and where my dad went and after we decided Brett said fuck yeah and I said yeah fuck man.

Both of us.


So this party in August is the beginning of the end of our time here.

We leave after Christmas.

This party is just a party with people from all over the town, which is not really a college town even though we have a college. Brett and I aren’t in a fraternity but it doesn’t matter even though it’s a frat party because if there’s a party, any party, anyone who sees it, or knows about it, or hears about it comes, because the town’s small and there’s not much else to do.

The town’s named Florence and it’s this crumbling place in South Carolina with steel mills and railroad tracks. There’s a country club made up of all the old families and the new ones who have money. And even though Brett and I have lived here for three years we don’t come from here and our dad’s a preacher but he’s strange (not like hellfire crazy strange, or standing on a sidewalk holding a Bible up in the air strange, but just strange, like once he melted down the gold caps from his teeth and made them into a cross) and he doesn’t have enough money to be in the club and neither does my mother (she’s a school nurse and when we get sick she’s always the one who tells us we’ll be better soon, tells us what pills to eat) but occasionally we get invited to their parties because we know the sons and the daughters, and it’s always us just standing there with our cigarettes and the free booze, but we know we aren’t like them and we couldn’t marry one of the daughters because we don’t come from where their future husbands are supposed to.

Brett’s only thirteen months younger than me but bigger and everyone we meet thinks he’s older and I have to say nah it’s me thirteen months and two days.


Point at my chest.

That’s how it always goes. Me measuring up to my brother. He’s good-looking and all the girls swoon when they see him. Six-one. Dark skin. Brown hair. Broad shoulders. This chiseled face. My mom and dad say I’m good-looking but it’s not the same as when a girl says it.

For example: My brother and me in our grandparents’ driveway playing basketball. I am fifteen. He is fourteen. I am tall for my age, the only growth spurt I really ever have, full of acne, awkward, he is shorter and still has that boy look to him. My first cousin (two years younger, a girl) comes over with one of her friends. They stand there and look us over, hands on their hips. My cousin looks over at her friend, says what do you think about Brett, like she’s trying to set her friend up and the friend says oh he’s fine. Gnaws her fingernail. My cousin asks about me. Weird, the friend says, he’s weird. Looks at the ground.

There you go.

And it isn’t just the looks. It’s everything. Brett is athletic. He makes all-state in soccer junior and senior years. I quit soccer when I am twelve. I quit tennis when I am fourteen. I am good at neither. But mostly it’s just the air about him. Like he can have anything he wants. He just needs to point.

Another example:

Me seventeen. Him sixteen. Me drunk and standing by a fire. Arms crossed. Brett inside the tent, the door zipped. The tent shifting. I’m facing this girl Kathleen across the fire, her face lit orange, and we don’t know what to say to each other. Breath fogged. Brett’s head from the tent door. Then he’s standing. Kathleen’s cousin Alice leaving the tent after Brett. Brett smoking. Alice shaking. Both back inside the tent. And I keep shaking, looking over at Kathleen with the words stuck. She tells me I’m boring. I tell her I know. I sleep in the dirt beside the fire. Kathleen goes in the tent with Brett and Alice.

But I know that Brett feels sort of the same way about me. Like he wants the things I’ve got. He thinks I am creative. I can play guitar and he wants to be able to do that. I start playing guitar after I quit the violin, then the piano, then the trumpet. And he thinks I’m smart. But I’m always thinking fuck smart and creative. I just feel weird. With Brett and me it’s like this dual-adoration thing but the truth is I’d give all the stuff he wants for all the stuff I want in a heartbeat.

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Interviews & Essays


To you, what is GOAT really about? Is it an indictment of the fraternity system? Or is it a story of survival? Or is it a look at the way young men come of age?

I suppose GOAT is about all of those things and each aspect is somewhat interesting to me. But GOAT is a story, first and foremost, one I tried to tell in a true and different way. I never set out to write a polemic, but I do hope people might read it and think a little more about the ways we hurt each other. Violence, in any form, is something each of us deals with-sanctioned, random, public, personal–they're all expressions of the same base thing.

What is it about the need to belong that makes people go to such extremes to be a part of something?

I think there's a great deal of pressure to belong, to feel that you are doing the right thing with your life, in your own eyes, in the eyes of your parents and the people in your town. Go to college, be well adjusted, get a job, sell something, make money, join the country club. I knew lots of people who thought about which sorority or fraternity they'd join while they were still in high school. It''s a dangerous sort of pressure, I think, and it doesn't just come from friends; it's teachers, parents, neighbors.

How do you feel now about Clemson and the members of that fraternity?

Clemson occupies an important place for me. My father went there. His father went there. I still love going to football games there, the pageantry of it all, the excitement. That's never really changed for me. It excited me as a child and a young man. It excites me now.

I don't really feel goodor bad about members of the fraternity. I don't know any of them any more on any significant level. Maybe they'll read the book and connect with it.

Have recent hazing stories in the press affected you?

They always affect me. Hazing is about humiliation and power, someone being in a position to degrade someone else, and any time that happens, any way humiliation is expressed, it's damaging, and one of the cruelest ways we interact.

Have the events in GOAT shaped your relationship with your brother, Brett, and with the rest of your family?

Very much so. It's colored everything since it happened. But my family is, and always has been, my center. Brett and I have always been close, and what happened made us understand one another better, it helped us know the other in a way we hadn't before. I've had people read the book and ask me questions like "why did Brett do that do you?" But I never felt the book presented that sort of relationship; it feels to me, rather, that we did things to each other, good and bad. Brett and I both went through those things, but we experienced them in different ways. We both made the choices we felt we had to make.
How have the events depicted in GOAT affected you in the intervening years? How have they affected your writing?

I've always been a generally nervous person. What happened heightened that tendency. It's something I deal with every day, really, but I'm at a pretty good place with what happened now.

As far as the writing goes, I tried to fictionalize the events in the first part of the book but it always felt false, like I didn't have the perspective to write about it in any way at all. And a few years after that, during a summer when I was living in Charleston, I just started writing the second half of the book. I'd spent a year in graduate school writing a little bit and reading all the memoirs I could get my hands on. Now it seems like what I was doing was preparation, figuring out where the story fit and how to tell it.

Was writing GOAT cathartic for you?

The word cathartic has always been attached to memoir, I think, because of its personal nature, but really, all writing, any act of creation, for me, would have that side. But it's a part of the process, not something I think writing is really about.

I don't think art is about solving one's own psychology-if that happens along the way, good-but I've never approached writing with catharsis at my primary concern. That's self-help, not art.

The memoir is just a form, and like other forms, it carries certain constraints and expectations. My goal was always to make a book that does something different with form, with language, with tone. A book that makes people rethink those expectations and constraints.

Clearly, readers are reacting as much to the writing as to the story.

Yes, the story is something people respond to. It's hard and scary. But so far people have commented equally on the voice, the way the story is told. As a writer, that's what I hope people latch onto-the language, the style, the experimentation. But I'm not a fan of experimentation simply for its own sake, to be cool or new. I think successful experimental writing comes from knowing the rules, knowing the body of nonfiction, knowing how other writers (poets, writers of fiction and nonfiction) have done things, and why, reading everything and anything with a critical eye, and always bringing those things to the craft of writing.

What are you working on now?

Right now I'm working on a few things–some essay-type things. I don't really know what to call them, these short nonfiction prose pieces. Maybe call it experimental journalism. I'm also working on a novel that has punk rock bands in it. And pop songs. The state of Colorado is also in the book, which I like, because I think Colorado is a good state. There's an airplane. And cars. A commune. Lots of trees and snow.
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Reading Group Guide

1. Goat is a memoir teeming with violence. Did you find yourself more shocked by the random violence in the book than by other, sanctioned types of violence? If so, why?

2. Throughout Land’s memoir, many characters grapple with the difficulty of fitting in with their peers. What sorts of pressures do you feel are placed on young men and women? Where does this stress come from? What could be done to combat it?

3. In your opinion, is the Greek system in the United States a viable outlet for young men and women? Given the long, public history of hazing and abuses committed by some fraternities and sororities, do you feel the Greek system should be abolished? If not, how could conditions be improved?

4. The narrator is involved in different kinds of violence: violence is committed against him and he participates, in some ways, in violence toward others. Identify some places in the text where the author falls into that violence himself, where he becomes part of it.

5. Is Land’s character sympathetic in his passivity, and in the detached way he sees the world? Or does this passivity make him less sympathetic?

6. In your opinion, is Land making a claim about the nature of the relationship between different forms of violence in society, like that of violent crimes and fraternity hazing? Or is he simply telling a story and allowing the reader to formulate his or her own opinion about this relationship? If so, what is the relationship?

7. Brad’s relationship with his younger brother, Brett, is integral to the narrative. What is it about their relationship the author find so compelling, so powerful, that he constantly moves toward him and seeks his approval in one way or another? Could Brett have done anything differently to protect Brad from his own self-destruction? What could Brad have done differently to change what happened to him? What is your reaction to the close, almost suffocating nature of the sibling relationship between Brad and Brett?

8. Goat is greatly concerned with guilt and forgiveness. In what ways do the violent acts committed against the narrator cause one to think about forgiveness? In what way does Brett’s guilt and his apparent inability to deal with the things that happen to Brad cause him to feel unable to ask for forgiveness?

9. There are many scenes in the book in which Brad is participating in an act of hazing or some fraternity ritual and Brett is off to the sides, in a corner, unable to watch or participate. How does this apparent refusal to help, to give recognition, implicate Brett ethically? Furthermore, how does this affect our beliefs about third parties and forgiveness? Are third parties who choose not to intervene when violence is taking place implicated in those violent acts, and, if so, to what extent?

10. Considering the guilt felt by Brett for not being present at his brother’s time of need, how is the relationship between Brad and Brett mirrored by Brad’s relationship with Will Fitch? What is it about this relationship that is so compelling, and how does it compel Brad to recollect about his relationship with his brother?

11. How is this memoir different in form, structure, and tone, from other memoirs you’ve read? Which styles do you feel are more compelling than others?

12. Realizing the inherent difficulty of writing a memoir of this sort, do you consider the voice Land cultivates authentic? In order to remain completely honest with regard to the narrative, the author of any memoir must tell the story as it unfolded — but in doing so, the author always runs the risk of sounding too vulnerable or emotionally inhibited. Given the inherent difficulty of exposing oneself in a radical way, do you think Land was successful?

13. Authors of memoirs portray other people’s actions from their own perspective, often without asking their permission. Does this compromise the author ethically?

14. Early in the book Land has a conversation with a fox. How can one really have a conversation with a fox? What does the inclusion of a scene in a memoir that is at first glace presumably untrue imply about the nature of truth-telling?

15. Is there such a thing as an objective claim about the past? How would any author really retrieve the past as it happened, without having to rely solely on memory? If an author uses interviews, for example, does the presence of a tape recorder or microphone, or the very recognition of the fact that the author is listening intently, always compromise the objectivity of what interviewees have to say? Is complete objectivity even possible?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 43 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 43 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Author missed an opportunity

    The story started out prety good, but the author missed an opportunity to expand on the event that scarred the protagonist for life. Once he gets off to college, everything starts to drag and I didn't really care about him any longer.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2004

    Not a classic, but a hell of a good start

    Brad Land deserves credit for his slingblade prose- fierce, lean, and bloody. Only those who have witnessed real violence first hand can appreciate the long term impacts and permanent effects. It's no suprise, in the least, to see condemnation about this book from the priveleged dim-wits of the fraternity house. Like we ever believed you when you said it was about 'brotherhood' and philantropy! Spend ten minutes with a group of Sig Nu's or Tekes and the true purposes will become revealed: pulling chicks, getting drunk, and stupid pranks. And then, when someone comes forward with a true account of the mindless, stupid, antics of fraternity life, denounce it with claims of 'discrimination' and 'prejudice.' I knew a guy named Tom Bliehorn who was in a frat at Ohio State. For a fun and giggles, he and two other brothers would go to a bar, and one of them would insult and harass and start a fight with some poor schmuck who was minding his own business. When the poor fool tried to protect himself, SURPRISE! It's now 3 vs. 1 and you lose. Great philanthropy! Yes, yes, we know...it's about brotherhood and raising money for the Special Olympics. Thanks, Brad Land, for dismantling that myth.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2004

    this book is riviting

    I bought this book for my teenaged son who doesn't like to read. I could hardly put it down myself, and he was engrossed. Those who focus on this as a frat bashing book are missing much. This is one persons life experience, not meant to be taking as a frat bash, but as his experience. This book presented a accurate account of where many a young adult mind and actions are, and reminds the reader of just how fragile life and relationships are -- all done in a manner that a young man can relate to. A great book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2004


    Land has really written a piece of art. The stream of consciousness form of writing flows well and makes the work hold the reader's attention. While many reviewers see this as just sour grapes and retaliation stemming from a bad experience with a fraternity, one must read deeper. It's about a troubled young man that had a serious incident as a teenager and now must deal with his psychological issues in a forum where humiliation is key. I was a member of a southern fraternity, also, but I read this as a recount of a young man trying to escape his demons - not create them in others.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2004

    Instant Classic

    i find it amazing that the same brand of Clemson figures who tormented Mr. Land in his story have come out of the woodwork to bully him some more via their bn.com reviews. whoever cried 'it isn't the system's fault' is missing the point; Mr. Land never explicitly blames anyone for his experiences. if any system is to blame, it's the natural system of mortal suffering. this book travels bracingly through agonizing pastures. on par with 'short of a picnic.'

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2004

    A Poignantly Disturbing Tale about the Pursuit of Popularity and Acceptance

    I suspect that some of the people who have praised this book have never actually been part of a fraternity. I have been. I believe that the people who focused on the violence in the memoir missed the point of the book. Personally, I believe that the book is primarily about the fear of always being a social outcast. Brad Land's brother, Brett, is presented in the book as the All-American guy. He was charismatic, good-looking and well-respected. Essentially, Brett was a Big Man on Campus. The author, Brad, on the other-hand was, by his own admission, socially-awkward, bland in the looks-department and regarded as an oddity. The book meticulously lays out how Brad attempted to acquire all of the characteristics that Brett had; all the things that would allow him to become part of the 'in' crowd. The irony is that he suffers all these indignities (real and imagined) at the hands of his fraternity brothers in the hopes of eventually becoming a Big Man on Campus himself only to discover that he may never have what it takes to bridge the gap between being that ideal guy as opposed to being the outcast that he was. I believe that anyone who has been involved in fraternity life or major college sports would appreciate this memoir on some level regardless of its factual validity.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2004

    Can't handle the truth?

    In college, I was an initiated member of a fraternity. It was scary how much the book reminded me of my own pledgeship. You can debate all you want whether Brad was right in writing about it, but I am very inclined to believe all that stuff actually happened, especially the line-ups. For the Kappa Sigs that posted here, it's a shame you can't live up to the truth. Whether you believe hazing is right or not, it happens, and it it's real, and this guy had the courage to talk about it. Next time, keep your fellow actives in check if you don't want it in a book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2004

    Goat is rivetting

    Brad Land's prose is immediate and thrilling from the very first page, which I re-read several times because it is one of the best first pages of a book that I can recall. The writing might have seemed overly stylish if the story of Brad's experiences, and the delicate way in which he relates his feelings about his experiences, were not so moving and profound. I finished the book in only three sittings because I hated to stop reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2004

    A voice to listen to! Land has arrived!

    Goat is a brilliant debut, written by a brilliant writer. It¿s authentic qua memoir on so many levels. First, it resists the ever present tendency to become a confessional. The language is penetrating to the point of disbelief¿soliciting a kind of emotional trauma¿the reader finds themselves cringing, and then whimpering, and then celebrating, and then all over again. Land's voice is as brave as it is rare. And in that voice I hear echoes of a pathos so deep, so authentic, it recollects the Fear and Trembling of Kierkegaard, the loneliness of Salinger, the heartbreak of Dave Eggars. But not just that, Goat finds it¿s home not just in it¿s pathos, nor in the reconciliation of it¿just the opposite¿Goat finds it¿s greatness in it¿s ability to articulate, if only for a moment, the aporetics of a forgiveness that seeks not to synthesize that pathos, but rather to let it be, to let it flourish even. And this pathos is no doubt terrifying, the rites of passage of adolescence rearing it¿s ugliest head, showing itself and screaming at those of us who don¿t know how to ignore it. And the prose in Goat is as beautiful and tragic as the story it tells, at once as sweet and innocent as the narrator, pointing us towards the luminosity and sublimity of love, then somersaulting into it¿s opposite, the darkness, the opacity, the nihilistic seductiveness of wanting to belong. The greatness here lies, first and foremost, in the fact that Land bravely points us towards that darkness, holds it up for us to see. But even further, the true greatness in Goat lies in it¿s ability to perform that darkness for the reader. At first enticing us with an interesting story, and then, as if he¿s holding our hand at the beginning of a haunted house, guides us through the to and fro, the perambulations of his story¿until, unbeknownst to the reader, we feel as if we too have participated in this tragedy, that we have been there ourselves, punched in the stomach and gasping, breathless. In this way Goat is a confrontation, an emotional upwelling, radically blurring the distinction between audience and author, between text and subject. As if the images of these years have passed in front of us like a piece of film over a projecter, we forget we are reading, we forget we aren¿t Land. And when I read Goat I want to find Land and weep with him, want to rub his shoulder and put him at ease, want to never leave his side. And I think this is the experience of every reader of Goat, we identify with this anxiety, this sweetness, and we have this uncanny feeling that we would know Land if we saw him walking down the street¿or even further, that deep down in all of us, somewhere, there is a part of us all that has been isolated and scared like Land, and an even bigger part of us that longs to be as brave.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2004

    Riveting Story

    Goat is unique and powerful in that Brad Land is able to honestly assess and address his feelings of being beaten in a savage samaritan-act-turned-wrong, and then, a few years later, revisits the same violence in the form of one of the oldest of all institutions - the fraternity. Don't be fooled by bitter fraternity supporters posting on here. This book has already been chosen as a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers book. It's already been profiled in GQ. The truth is that it is one of those rare books that addresses (honestly) male-on-male violence. But it's not just the story that makes this book unique. It's Land's ability to tell this story honestly, without fear of judgement. And the relationship between he and his brother Brett, while heartbreaking at times, immerses the reader into their turbulent world. It's an incredible debut by an obviously talented writer. Highly, highly recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2004


    Narrative style is great. It's hip and fresh - Land really captures the moment of collegiate life. Don't pay attention to these insulted post-Frat boys - it's a great book well worth reading. It will open your eyes to what really happens in many Southern fraternities.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2004

    violent, refreshing and absorbing

    Like many others, I read Land's book in one sitting. Brutal in both content and style, I felt like I had to talk to everyone about this book. I think middle class women in the US have the privilege of not experiencing this much violence (usually), so in many ways Land's experiences (not the feelings) seemed so foreign to my own. While I doubt that every guy who joins a frat goes through a violent hazing, to me, it doesn't seem like the point. The point is that it happens at all and that most likely a lot more guys have stories to tell of the violence they've experienced in whatever part of their life, whether that be in a frat, as a result of a crime, in adolescence, etc. Most of all this book captured that palpable sense of fear that most people have experienced at some point in their life and a complicated but enduring love (between Land and his brother).

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2014

    Goat Simulator...


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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2014


    Mm......hm....seems need more exticement in there. But after all, great headstart!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2014



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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2014


    "GIANT GOAT?????"

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2014

    The rise of the goat part 1

    (Warning this part will not have much of a plot line cuzz its part 1. Give me ways to make it better. No hateing on it and ignore the ones below. They are wierd. Now here we go!!!!!! ~Dawn)
    Its midnight and ever free forest's trees are glowing yellow. Dawn comes to check it out but finds nothing. When he leaves they glow once again. The next day fireponies and unicorns and alicorns try to put out the fire. Dawn comes back to check it out again. "Woah... what happened?" A pony looks at him and pumps his hoofs in the air. "Yes great Dawn is here mabey he can use his speed to put it out!" Dawn sighs "Why cant you get RD to do it. I aint ta fastest here." He looks at Dawn like hes crazy. "Ummm idk ur here do it." Dawn flys up and around everfree's flaming trees and put out the fire leaveing the trees still burnt. "Who did it?" Dawn asks. "A giant Goat is some ponies say. "Hm. Must let de others know." TO BE CONTINUED!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2013


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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2014

    Aiden to kiley

    I meant p.m.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2014


    Im oyr of here!! Ur not typing to me!! Bye bi..tch

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 43 Customer Reviews

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