In David Vann's searing novel Goat Mountain, an 11-year-old boy at his family's annual deer hunt is eager to make his first kill. His father discovers a poacher on the land, a 640-acre ranch in Northern California, and shows him to the boy through the scope of his rifle. With this simple gesture, tragedy erupts, shattering lives irrevocably.
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.
David Vann is the award-winning author of Legend of a Suicide, Caribou Island, A Mile Down, and Last Day on Earth.
If David Vann's parable is too overt and repetitive (even at novella length it can feel too long), its subversion of religious imagery is still unforgettable. Could it be that violence is a language of its own? Might the seemingly inescapable cycle of taboo and transgression simply be a random product of human evolution? These are some of the questions Vann raises in this disturbing, audacious, and deeply impressive allegory. (Reviewed by Rebecca Foster).
The Washington Post Book World Goat Mountain, his third Sophoclean novel, is muscular, existential, barbaric and dense with allegory.
San Francisco Chronicle
The prose is as taut as lean muscle and creates a chilling kind of hypnosis: We begin to think as this 11-year-old boy thinks, an impossible feat of intense artistry, given his horrendous acts and inscrutably twisted mind.
[Goat Mountain] may just may be his finest, most contemplative work to date.
This flint-hard novel, in its intensity, will likely be compared to the work of Cormac McCarthy.
This book is as all of Vann's fiction: provocative and unforgiving.
Starred Review. Shocking. ... The author's descriptions of the northern California landscape - the chaparral, woods, and mountains-are also masterly. ... This beautifully realized novel is recommended for fans of literary fiction but is not for the faint of heart.
The Times (UK)
The novel is not just gripping: it tightens slowly around its reader like a boa constrictor.
The Observer (UK)
For all its unyielding darkness, Goat Mountain is, perhaps perversely, an exhilarating experience. It is, first of all, cathartic in the way of all good tragedies. But it is also exhilarating for the least perverse of reasons: the experience of reading a novelist of David Vann’s rare artistry and vision.
The book has the quality of a ballad or a folk tale…Goat Mountain, the devilish hill on which these events transpire, remains a closed and terrible world…This story has the power of a bullet fired from a gun.
Craig Johnson, author of the Walt Longmire Mysteries
Meet David Vann, one the most talented writers in the American West. Goat Mountain, with all its responsibility and recriminations, is the man at his absolute finest.
Robert Morgan, author of Gap Creek
This book is written on the edge, a story of legacies, cruelty, the mysteries of DNA and blood, rewarding the reader sentence by sentence and scene by scene right to the astonishing and terrifying ending.
Robert Olen Butler, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
David Vann is at once the most timely and timeless of writers ... Goat Mountain is a ravishing example of his mastery. ... This book will touch you to the depths of our shared, flawed humanity.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Cloggie Downunder a powerful read Goat Mountain is the third novel by American author, David Vann. In the early fall of 1978, an eleven-year-old boy is on an annual deer hunting trip on a Californian mountainside with his father, his father’s best friend and his grandfather. This... Read More
David Vann fits into an American literary tradition that has been around since the 1960s, but was only given a name in 1983. Bill Buford, former editor of Granta literary magazine, coined the term "dirty realism" to characterize two trends in American fiction: a tendency toward simplified language, largely free from adverbs or flowery language (as is true of Vann's matter-of-fact prose in Goat Mountain), and frank consideration of the awfulness of ordinary, lower- or middle-class lives.
A post-Cold War phenomenon, dirty realism arose in an atmosphere of suspicion and paranoia. It often reflects on capitalism and consumerism through the experiences of blue-collar workers, sometimes using black humor to lighten the mood. The characters usually have no hope of escaping the poverty of their circumstances; as Tamas Dobozy notes in his University of British Columbia PhD thesis, "Towards a Definition of Dirty Realism," the dirty realist story "chooses entrapment as its natural habitat." In a subversion of the American dream narrative, the characters find...
In Burning Bright, Pen/Faulkner finalist and New York Times bestselling author of Serena, Ron Rash, captures the eerie beauty and stark violence of Appalachia through the lives of unforgettable characters. With this masterful collection of stories that span the Civil War to the present day, Rash, a supremely talented...
A true masterwork of haunting and spectacular vision from one of our greatest writers, Canada is a profound novel of boundaries traversed, innocence lost and reconciled, and the mysterious and consoling bonds of family.
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Research shows that 90% of Americans value public libraries(Dec 11 2013) According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, about 90% of Americans aged 16 and older said that the closing of their local public library would have an...