Our instinct is to protect. What happens when your instinct tells you to protect a killer?

Goat MountainGoat Mountain by David Vann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is dark and compelling.
The structure of the plot is bare, crude and basic. Stylistically it reads as if the reader is privy to the stream of consciousness via the boy. The events unfold, as if one is watching them happen at that moment in time. It is brutal without the gratuitous use of graphic violence. The author manages to create a very vivid imagery and uses biblical comparisons to expand and explain the characters and their actions.
Just one click, one moment and reality of the boy and his true nature become apparent to all.
He feels nothing for the man he has killed and yet flows over with compassion for the buck he later has to kill. The first he does instinctively the second he is forced to do. Feelings of thrill and excitement at the death of a man and feelings of pity for the animal. Vann uses the imagery of the landscape and geography throughout. Land becomes man and man is one with earth.
The boy feels nothing for humans, obviously identifying with his own image and feels the pain of the animal. In his mind the animal fares better because it expects nothing from death. Simplicity in death.
What does become apparent is the genetic predilection to violence and the sociopathic tendencies. Grandfather thinks nothing of suggesting the murder of one of his blood. He domineers over his progeny. Most people would automatically go for help or get the police but these men think of killing to rid themselves of witnesses.
What has happened in the interim? Has he followed his thrill of killing or did that one occasion help his inner pathology retreat into the background never to be uncovered again. How do the remaining men explain the incidents?
The reader is left wondering, especially about the child, who feels alive instead of feeling remorse, because of his actions.
The moral of the story being perhaps that some things can’t be undone and we cannot control our genetic footprint but can we control whether we choose to act on the compulsion brought about by that footprint.
On a more base level it also questions the morality of hunting. Why is killing the man a crime of murder and yet the hunting/killing of the animal considered to be a right, a sport and an extension of our prior caveman existence. Humans elevate themselves to a level of superiority and everything beneath that is a sub-species, which makes it morally right to hunt and kill animals just for the fun of it.
I enjoyed it. It was one of those books you tend to remember.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

View all my reviews

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