Goat Mountain by David Vann is stunning. “This has was the first time I’d be allowed to kill. Illegal still in age, but old enough finally by family law.” Now aren’t we off to a good start. Killing is in man’s nature stresses the narrator, years after a life-altering event. A poacher, a powerful rifle, an eleven year old.
Four men go hunting, the boy, his father, his grandfather, and his father’s best friend, Tom. With the poacher strung up and bagged like a dead deer, the three men go at. The grandfather thinks they should kill the boy. Tom wants to go to the sheriff. The father will blame it all on Tom or just wants to bury the body. There is in fighting, as one would imagine. The boy is the narrator, so we have to wonder what comes of his first kill. Lots of Biblical references to killing and finding God. More Old Testament than New Testament.
Everything has changed as they slowly lose themselves in the woods and the burlapped body spins in the wind as a reminder of the deadly deed. Some say the eating of the dead animal’s liver and heart make a man of a boy. Perhaps. So what makes that man moral and good? This is a violent family wrestling with God.