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Goat Mountain

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3.3 of 5 stars 3.30  ·  rating details  ·  448 ratings  ·  128 reviews
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
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Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by Harper (first published January 1st 2013)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,730)
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Will Byrnes
This review has also been cross-posted on my blog. Images tend to disappear on GR. They are all present there. The book was released on Tuesday, September 10, 2013. The trade paperback was released on October 14, 2014.

Drama is a description of what is bad inside of us and the end point of that is hell, a description of a hellish landscape.
This is what David Vann had to say in an interview with GR pal Lou Pendergast. (A link to the full interview is in the LINKS section at the bottom of this rev
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switterbug (Betsey)
Vann’s latest book is truly an ambitious one. His subject matter and theme—essentially, the savage beast that resides inside the man, reminds me of similar themes covered by Cormac McCarthy. I have read McCarthy’s entire oeuvre, and I suspect that Vann has, too. In this setting, the reader is taken to Northern California and a family of deer hunters who own this land, the eponymous Goat Mountain. The narrator, unnamed (like the Kid in Blood Meridian), tells the story of a shocking and disturbing ...more
Jill
If David Vann never writes another book – and hopefully, that will not be the case – his reputation will be secured by Goat Mountain. I read it with mounting excitement and horror; although this book may be the darkest book I have ever read, I am convinced it is a masterpiece.

The bare-bones plot is deceptively simple: three men (a father, a son, and a grandfather – a very unholy ghost) and the father’s best friend Tom (the only character who is named) go on their annual deer hunt. The son – who
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Rebecca Foster
My first review for BookBrowse (unfortunately, it’s a subscription service, but you can read a snippet here). To my utter amazement, the editor got back to me today with personal feedback from the author: “What a smart, thoughtful review. Please thank Rebecca for me for all her hard work and generosity. Best, David” (!!!!)
Bonnie Brody
This is one of the hardest reviews I have ever had to write. My difficulties lie with both the thematic content of the book and the stylistic qualities. The writing is rich with allegory and metaphor, filled with theology, philosophy, and archetype. However, it is not an easy book to read both because of the writing style and the horrendous violence. Readers should be aware that this is not a book for the faint of heart and that knowledge of some biblical history would be helpful in understandin ...more
Mish
It was 1978 when an 11-year-old boy will get his opportunity to hold a rifle and kill his first buck on an annual hunting trip in Californian mountains, with his father, grandfather and a family friend Tom. It was the one event that the boy was eager and revved up to do. When the family enters the gate to their property, they spot a poacher who has trespassed.

The series of events that happens afterwards will cause devastating consequences on both the men and the boy. Their opinions on a solutio
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Josh
Fuel. It takes fuel to make anything go. You can have the hottest rod on the block but without gas it just looks like a dang fine ride. That's kinda where I jump off on this novel.

It had all the elements to be my "end the year on a high note" but in the end the gas just didn't burn. Read the blurb and you'll be hooked but for me it just never got there. It's a haunting story, the descriptive writing was at places bordering on strong, but I never got sucked in. I was stalled in first gear and I
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Librariasaurus
I'm still not sure, at the end of its page count, that I know entirely what this novel was about. Sure it follows three generations of men from the same Cherokee Indian family; sure it's got heavy themes of violence, murder and all the psychology that goes with it and sure it's about the father-son bond and how strong it can be in the face of adversity or better still how easily broken it can become.
But in amongst all this heavy theming there is overly flowery writing which falls clumsily into t
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Lou
The author has constructed a wide beautiful splendid vista tainted by a stream of flowing hot red blood with great sentences with a visceral and fluid prose.
Generations of blood being spilled, he takes you through the cycle with some reflection back to Cain and Abel and digs in to try to find the why and self discovery through killing carried out by a one young man, our main protagonist and voice, makes him wonder on ones falls and worth.

This story ends a cycle of blood and paths of blood that t
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Tara
I don't know who wrote the blurb for Goat Mountain, but I want to read a book written by them. That blurb is brilliant. It is tense and provocative. It promises conflict, suspense, mystery, and some sort of generational 'coming of age' transformation.
Which Goat Mountain fails to deliver.
I found it insipid and repetitive with no real meaning. It explores no concepts of what it means to be man, it doesn't explore family relationships or religion. It leaves too many stones unturned, and too many st
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André van Dijk
DE PURE OPWINDING VAN HET DODEN

In het onherbergzame landschap van Noord-Californië ontvouwt zich een waar familiedrama. Drie generaties hertenjagers en een betrokken buitenstaander worden geconfronteerd met hun niet te ontlopen verbondenheid in de nasleep van een gruwelijk voorval. Over de ethiek van een onschuldige moord.

Het lijkt het recept van David Vann te zijn: breng een aantal mensen samen, vastgeklonken door familieband en vriendschap, in een afgezonderde wereld en laat ze op elkaar los i
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Liz Ellen Vogan
Coming of age, but not a coming-of-age tale. In a world solely of men and with the ritual visitation of ancestral land holdings for the purpose of hunting (killing), an eleven year old boy is passed a powerful rifle, so he may look through the scope at a trespasser. What happens next sends the male adults careening for purchase on reality as witnessed by the boy. Three generations of men on this hunt. A closeness of the land and the act of hunting central to their very being has somehow got loos ...more
Teresa Lukey
OH.MY.GOD. Vann is brutal! He definitely likes to introduce shock factors in to his stories, but unlike Caribou Island, this ones starts right from the beginning. I can't even believe how brutal and shocking this story was. The piece that kept coming up and still lingers, is the comparison and justifications, using the 10 commandment and the bible. JUST.SO.BRUTAL. WOW! Not for the weak of heart.
Deb Vanasse
An admirable book, tough and beautiful. In remarkable prose, Vann tells a simple, brutal story that will keep you thinking long after the last page is turned. It is one of the finest books from a smart, brave author who's not afraid to push at convention. This novel will be evoking discussion for a long, long time. If you're looking for a fun, light read, this is the wrong book, but if your interest is in good literature and expanding the discussion of violence in our society, then don't miss th ...more
Audrey
I'm usually up for gritty realism, but this book tested even my stomach. It's not that the violence, though there was much of it, was gratuitous. Rather, it was that the characters--the eleven-year-old narrator, his father, and grandfather--all seemed curiously devoid of humanity. Theirs is a family of deep, cross-generational emotional wounds. The frustrating thing is that the reader never learns the source of the wounds, besides the fact that they seem to be passed from father to son.

The writi
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Paul
This is a brilliant, evocative, powerful, troubling and beautiful book. Amazingly written, in immediate, sparse prose that is reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy, it's one of the best I've read this year. The way Vann takes Bible stories and theological questions, subverts them and twists them into his narrative is really compelling and also quite disturbing. It's a visceral book too, sometimes intensely so. A really amazing reading experience.
Linda
A well written (almost in staccato with many sentences without verbs) book about a total cock-up and how an 11-year old tries to make sense to the events.

The main character is an 11-year old boy of Indian descent who is taken by his father, grandfather and friend of his father Tom to their “ranch” on Goat Mountain to kill his first buck. Instead of killing a buck he shoots a poacher and from then on things go from bad to worse, not only on how they handle the killing but also in the relationship
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Ann
This book was painful to read. The only thing that kept me reading was that it was told from the perspective of an 11-year-old nameless boy. It was not narrated in a boy's words, though. He was looking back at it from an adult perspective.

Goat Mountain tells the horrendous story of a four-day hunting trip. The boy is there with his father, grandfather and a family friend. The boy, let's call him Killer, is finally old enough to take part in the hunt. He does, but not in the way I would have exp
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Jutta Ortlepp
Gewaltig die Sprache. Gewaltig die Geschichte dieser Familie. Wo andere hunderte von Seiten benötigen und unüberschaubares Personal, reichen David Vann 4 Personen und wenige Seiten um mich komplett und atemlos in seinen Bann zu ziehen. Allein die eindringliche Schilderung einer Hirsch-Jagd wäre schon ein Juwel, doch der Roman ist vielmehr: Eine Entwicklungsgeschichte, eine philosophische Betrachtung übers Töten und Sterben und wohl auch eine Abrechnung mit der eigenen gewalttätigen Familie. Dies ...more
Gerhardt Himmelmann
I enjoyed Goat Mountain less than almost anything I've ever read. I found it inane, overblown, and—even at its modest pagecount—far too long. The premise is this: an un-named boy, having reached puberty, travels with his father, his grandfather, and his father’s friend to an ancestral hunting ground. There, he is expected to shoot a deer and therefore prove himself A Man. Except, on reaching the land, he shoots a poacher instead. The bulk of the novel is concerned with the four characters decidi ...more
Lynne Perednia
An eleven-year-old boy goes on the annual hunting trip with his father, grandfather and his father's best friend. He has gone with them as long as he can remember. They are going to their family's property on Goat Mountain in Northern California. This is the year the boy is supposed to become a man; he is supposed to get his own deer.

But that's not what happens. A death occurs and the rest of David Vann's Goat Mountain deals with ideas of justice and retribution, of punishment and the lack of sa
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Mandy
This dark and disturbing novel tells of a family hunting trip into the mountains of northern California in 1978. An 11 year old boy, his father, grandfather and family friend Tom set off on their annual ritual to hunt deer, and this year the boy will get a chance to make his first kill. But on this trip something goes horribly wrong at the very beginning, something that challenges their beliefs, their loyalty to each other and their very existence.
To say more about the events would be to give aw
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Paul Lunger
David Vann's "Goat Mountain" may very simply be one of the most disturbing books you'll ever read in 2013 & one that's not for the faint of heart either. The story focuses on three members of the same family & a family friend who are on a hunting trip at their Northern California ranch called Goat Mountain in the fall of 1978. When the grandfather shoots a man who is a poacher the story takes on a dark & disturbing turn that is haunting as well as scary to read. Throughout the rest o ...more
Jenn Ravey
A man recalls his 11th year in 1978, the year in which he makes his first kill. Family tradition has his father, his grandfather, and his father’s best friend Tom setting out across their land – Goat Mountain. The terrain is rough, but these men are rougher, as is evidenced when they set out for the three-day trip, spotting a poacher and sighting him in the scopes of their guns. When the boy takes his turn, coolly and without thought, he pulls the trigger.

What you want to read, what you want to
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Mike
Readers will focus on the immediacy of these few days and these few men on Goat Mountain but this story is about loss. The obvious religious allusions say more about the narrator than the author, and it is the distance from which the story is told that is most compelling. What has made this reluctant Sunday School boy grow up to retrospectively equate his elemental grandfather with Abraham and the mountain with a restive Pan?

While it often feels as if an eleven year old boy is speaking, the rea
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Wendy
I listened to the BCD and couldn't get much past the first disc (of 6). The subject was gruesome, but it was the use of foul language that stopped me in my tracks. I won't be going back to discover the ending.
Ismael
Una vez más, Vann eleva la crueldad y los conflictos famliares a la categoría de lo sublime a través de la naturaleza. Pero creo que en esta ocasión el impacto es mucho menor que en otras. El continuo arrastrar de cuerpos se acaba contemplando con indiferencia. Quizás es lo que pretendía, no sé.
Natasha874
Goat Mountain is disturbing yet intriguing. Based on a sudden violent act with no meaning and the ugly dynamics between these four characters. The psychological aspects of this grim, cynical, crime drama imbues the book with depth and texture. Intense and not for the faint of heart.
Surprisingly, I liked David Vann's poetic writing style, lyrical and whimsical. The beauty of his writing disguises the horrors that unfolds throughout the story, which makes you continue to read, mesmerized until the
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Schuyler Wallace
An eleven-year-old boy shouldn’t have to endure the horrific circumstances described by David Vann in “Goat Mountain.” But this is an unusual boy. A father, grandfather, and long-time friend are accompanied by the nameless boy on a hunting trip in Northern California. I’ll issue an anemic spoiler alert here because nearly every review I’ve read gives this away: He takes a look at a poacher through his father’s rifle scope and, inexplicably, squeezes the trigger with disastrous results.

The entir
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Penny Butler
This is a very compelling book. The introduction of the setting and characters is just superb. You sit on the back of the truck with the unnamed boy, as you are both driven into Goat Mountain where you can't get out. Vann's devastatingly powerful prose traps you there, with three generations of the boy's family, and a long-standing legacy of cruelty.

The boy's experience of killing his first buck is startlingly honest and the experience of reading it is near unbearable. Vann confessed, at Adelai
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Published in 19 languages, David Vann’s internationally-bestselling books have won 15 prizes, including best foreign novel in France and Spain and, most recently, the $50,000 St. Francis College Literary Prize 2013, and appeared on 70 Best Books of the Year lists in a dozen countries. He has written for the Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, Outside, Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, The Sunday Times, The Obse ...more
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“Low branches, dead and snapping against us. On the lookout for rattlesnakes. But the path was short enough, and soon we were on a kind of terrace. Old lawn overgrown by grass and weed, old concrete cracked in discrete chunks, vast areas overrun. An enchanted place for me, and only for me, because I was too young to remember, and so in my mind this place could become more.” 3 likes
“That night longer than all my life before it. No scale or measure in this world can ever be held constant. We are always slipping.” 1 likes
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