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Goats Paperback – March 20, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Miramax (March 20, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786887133
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786887132
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,696 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In Goats, first novelist Mark Jude Poirier brings us an oddly compelling story of two men, one a teenager, the other about 40, both committed adolescents. Fourteen-year-old Ellis lives with his mom in suburban Tucson, Arizona. Goat Man is, for lack of a better definition, their pool man. He takes care of the pool and the garden, and "in exchange, Ellis's languid mother Wendy gave him food, the pool house, and a meager salary. She also provided him with a place to keep his goats." When he's not caring for his herd, Goat Man spends his off hours growing pot and getting high. And every so often, he heads into the desert for a trek with the goats, walking at night in the cool dark. In many of these pursuits--especially the getting high part--he is joined by the confident, easygoing Ellis. This apprenticeship is interrupted only when Ellis heads off to Gates Academy, the Pennsylvania prep school attended by his absentee father. The novel then follows him as he journeys from his unconventional home into the real world.

There are plenty of reasons Goats shouldn't work. For one thing, Ellis is a strangely perfect protagonist. He's good at everything, smart, responsible, too cool for school. Also, the central mystery of Goat Man--how he became Goat Man--remains unsolved. Meanwhile, most of the other characters are one-dimensional: Ellis's slobby roommate at Gates, his spacey mom, his hardliner crew coach. Yet the author has been savvy in choosing his material. The familiar rigors of prep school make a fine foil for the evocative descriptions of Ellis's desert treks. Poirier also cleverly inverts the coming-of-age formula--rather than encountering a strange new world, his tender protagonist emerges into a merely normal one. Most important, Poirier never judges his characters. Ellis doesn't become better than Goat Man or his mother; he simply discovers that he has options besides smoking pot in the pool house, which gives an upbeat twist to this charming and assured debut. --Claire Dederer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Short story writer (Naked Pueblo) Poirier's oddball first novel brings together an assortment of good-natured druggies, New Age caricatures, feuding divorc?es and human-like goats. The protagonist of this meandering but ingratiating rites-of-passage tale is Ellis Whitman, an articulate, hyperintelligent 14-year-old with a marked affinity for recreational drug use. Raised in Tucson, Ariz., by his flighty, fad-crazed mother, Wendy, and her perennially high "domestic help," a laid-back marijuana enthusiast called Goat Man, Ellis faces the first major challenge of his heretofore pampered life when he's sent off to Gates, an exclusive Pennsylvania boarding school. Since Ellis has spent most of his youthful existence toking up and spacing out with Goat Man (who functions as something of a surrogate father and ganja-addled guru for him), life at a rigid, elitist East Coast prep school like Gates initially leads to some culture shock. Fortunately, Ellis is nothing if not adaptable, and he takes to his new environment, befriending his doltish roommate Barney; developing a crush on Minnie, a pretty dining-hall server; and excelling in practically every class that he attends. Poirier intercuts deftly observed scenes of Ellis's day-to-day life at Gates with some offbeat interludes, in which we watch the sage but stoned Goat Man interact with the childish, easily manipulated Wendy and her parasitic boyfriend, Bennet. Goat Man's occasional treks through the wilderness with his pet goatsAFrieda, Lance, Gigi and Mr. T.Aalso allow Poirier to pontificate, a little clumsily, on the latent humanity present in brute animals and vice versa. Such awkward lapses are infrequent, however. With its low-key humor and idiosyncratic views on family, drug use and the modern American caste system, this is an engaging and perceptive debut. The book's shimmering, golden cover is an eye-catcher. 4-city regional author tour. (Feb.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Would recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun read.
Raybird
I found this book after watching the movie(excellent movie) as I'm sure many others have done.
Championship Vinyl
All the characters were unique, believable and consistent to themselves.
Stephen Sollitto

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
A few years back I stumbled over and loved Poirier's excellent short story collection, Naked Pueblo, and I'm glad to report his debut novel displays the same strong writing and sympathetically quirky offbeat characters as his short stories. Like his short stories, the book is set primarily in Tucson, although there are chapters in Pennsylvania, and a few short visits to Washington, D.C. The story centers around Ellis, a 14-year-old who is leaving his odd domestic life with his mother in Tucson for a stuffy East Coast boarding/prep school. His upbringing has been somewhat haphazardly managed by Wendy-his hippie turned New Age mother whom he addresses by her first name, of course-and a quiet pothead relic of the early '70s called "Goat Man," who raises hybrid marijuana and goats while living for free in the pool house. His father...), lives out east and hasn't played much of a role in Ellis's life, so he's mostly relied on Goat Man as his male role model. Goat Man, on the other hand, is mainly a wiser, older brother figure to him, setting him up with all the herb he needs, turning him on to Peter Tosh, and going on goat trekking trips.
Poirier sets this up odd background and proceeds to show Ellis's transformation as he enters the no less bizarre environment of his first year of boarding school. While he finds out that his father isn't as bad as he thought, and that there's more to life than pot, Goat Man engages in a low-intensity war with Wendy's smarmy new boyfriend, Bennet, who wants Goat Man gone. The narrative switches back and forth as both have little adventures, building to a climactic trip to Mexico and goat trek back across the border that highlights the changes Ellis has undergone and the cowardice behind Goat Man's laid-back persona.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By cray fowler on February 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I really liked reading Mark Jude Poirier's GOATS. This is a smart, funny book with a lot of heart and wisdom mixed in just the right amount. I found myself laughing out loud at some points, and yet a page later, could be completely engrossed in a dramatic sequence without feeling manipulated or jolted. I disagree with Claire Lederer when she claims that Ellis's roommate and some other characters are one-dimensional. I think that's a convenient assessment and categorization of these characters on her part in order to make sense of the larger issues on the whole. Nevertheless, she eventually does realize the remarkable achievement in this book -- especially the use of an inverted bildungs-roman formula. Well done, Mr. Poirier!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The finely-etched characters, spare prose, and unforgiving landscapes (arid Tucson and wintry Pennsylvania) of Goats continue to haunt me weeks after finishing this impressive and riveting debut. Poirier's world is one in which the abundant humor is often black, the air hangs musky with marijuana smoke, and all the characters (likeable and otherwise) behave badly. Poirier makes no apologies for his characters' flaws - and all of them are profoundly flawed - yet this crew of wounded misfits somehow manage to earn enormous quantities of sympathy and respect by book's end. Perhaps it is the radical lack of sentimentality that enables the reader to adore these characters. Poirier neither flinches nor apologizes, and the result is a tight, harsh world of hard-won beauty.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lance Link on February 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Mark Jude Poirier's Goats is the best new novel I have read in years, and his character "Goat Man" is the most unique I have come across since I read Thomas Berger's Little Big Man. Goats is a smart, funny book tempered by just the right amount of human compassion and warmth. Highly recommended!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Deborah Ann Guillory on February 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
If you love Cormac McCarthy, then Mark Jude Poirier is a great new author you should try. My sister-in-law recommended this to me, and I thought it was wonderful! It is the story of a boy and his surrogate family and all of the heartache he endures as he copes with his mother's gradual but pointed breakdown. At the same time, the boy is able to resurrect his relationship with his bio-father. Amazing! Also recommended to Mary McGarry Morris fans!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jared Turley on November 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Goats is an off the wall coming of age story, that brings with it the emotion and depth of a classic novel. The writing style of Mark Jude Porrier entrances the reader and creates an excitment that makes this book impossible to put down. Some of the subject matter may be extreme, but it suits its purpose of being a down to earth coming of age story. The goats that are so vividly described are so personified you begin to associate with them as much as you do the main characters. This book is a great example of a lazy summer read, and will bring a smile and possibly a tear to anyone who reads it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Sollitto on March 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
To anyone thinking of reading Goats, I will not be able to articulate to you, how much I loved this book. It was truly one of the most brilliant, humorous, original books I have ever read. The story progressed and ended at the perfect pace. All the characters were unique, believable and consistent to themselves. It was original and page-turning, without trying too hard. When I finished this book, I felt like I was on the inside to something great, before anyone else. I can't wait for this author to write another one.
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