Saturday, July 6, 2013

Goat Mountain - Book Review

The annual deer hunt on the family's large ranch in North California turns to tragedy when they spot a poacher on their land. The father, siting the poacher in the scope of his gun, invites his 11 year old son to have a look. The boy, excited for his first chance to kill a buck and jumpy, pulls the trigger and kills the man.

An accident or an act of violence? David Vann brings to the surface the raw and painful emotions of survival, primal urges, loyalty, and morality in his newest novel Goat Mountain. The men, a grandfather, father, son and a close friend will be forced to make brutal decisions. They will discover just what caliber of men they are.

I was drawn to this novel because of my own experiences of deer hunting with my father as a young teenager. I still remember the morning of my first hunt. Waking before dawn and driving to the mountain. The  lights of the Aurora Borealis stretched across the Northern sky. I was excited to be with my dad. I felt like we were alone, secluded from the world as we hiked through the low brush to a steep ravine. A herd of deer ran down the slope on the other side of the hill. The firing started and I realized that we were far from alone on that mountain. As the deer fell, the hunters who had flushed them out, appeared with guns drawn behind the deer on the horizon. The exhilaration of shooting my first buck turned to fear. I never took to hunting--didn't care for it. And as my brothers got older, I didn't get to enjoy the time alone with my dad.

Fortunately, my own experiences were much less violent than the story in Goat Mountain. My dad was a kind, gentle man. However, some of the images created by David Vann of the hunt are so familiar and so real. His prose is beautiful and tragic. His characters are not likable. They are brutal and savage. Vann examines the philosophy of killing and combines the ancient Bible stories in his tale. The story is equally compelling and repulsive.

This story will probably not resonate with many of my readers. It is violent and there is some language.

**I received a complimentary copy of Goat Mountain in exchange for my honest review.**

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