Goat (Movie Tie-in Edition): A Memoir

Goat (Movie Tie-in Edition): A Memoir

by Brad Land


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NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE • This searing memoir of fraternity culture and the perils of hazing provides an unprecedented window into the emotional landscape of young men.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399591426
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/06/2016
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About 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.

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.

Customer Reviews

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Goat 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
mrgopherguts More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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).
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
SqueakyChu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a difficult book to read. It's the story of author Brad Land's relationship with his brother. Told in a similar writing style to that of James Frey, Brad Land opens his book revealing the details of his kidnapping and brutal assault. On the heels of this violence, Land follows his brother to college where his past victimization continues to plague him under new and perhaps even more difficult circumstances. The book is fast reading, the writing is engaging, but I cringe when I think of the cruelty in it. Now that I've seen the demons that have haunted this author in the past, I'd really love to know about the more positive aspects of his life. For a debut novel, though, this book is quite impressive despite its tendency to leave the reader in despair.
karriethelibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't understand why people who have gone through the humiliation and degradation of being hazed turn around and do it to someone else. One would think that after being treated badly, the chain would break and this ridiculous ritual would stop. But Brad Land recounts his story of a brutal attack, and how he then turned on someone else during his tenure in a frat at Clemson. He comes full circle, and it's almost possible to understand how it happened for him, but it's still a very disturbing and haunting memoir.Makes me glad that my son isn't in a frat!
burnsa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the most scary, disturbing books I have read. Required reading for any boy who is thinking of joining a fraternity known for their hazing rituals. If you like memoirs, you will enjoy the writing style of Land.
goldiebear on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was interesting, but in all reality I wasn't actually all that surprised by the violence of the fraternity hazing. I had read about it before and heard about it before so I wasn't completely shocked. It's amazing how cruel some people can be to each other. There were some cringes inducing moments -- mostly for me during the first part of the book, not the fraternity part. I think what was the saddest part of this book was the internal struggle Land went through and also the relationship with his brother. That part was harder to take than the actual descriptions of the beatings and hazing. Overall a pretty good memoir. Quick read and kept my attention.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mm......hm....seems need more exticement in there. But after all, great headstart!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I meant p.m.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The young ocelot stares at the people. "What are they doing here?"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*falls down to the ground crying*