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Land O'Goshen Paperback – October, 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: St Martins Pr (October 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312133901
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312133900
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,661,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

If Faulkner had tried his hand at science fiction, the result might have sounded much like this energetic first novel. The unlikely futuristic setting is backwoods Alabama at a time when the country is ravaged and ruled by fundamentalist Christian soldiers. Red-haired, rambunctious Buddy, a 14-year-old orphan, narrates this story of his life while hiding out in an ancient Indian burial mound on the outskirts of the town of Goshen. Costumed as a creature he calls Sack, Buddy terrorizes the countryside as the "Wild Thang," hoping that his mythological monster will undermine the Christian tyranny. While McNair's prose is fresh and often resonates with the homespun poetry of his naive hero, the first-person narrative limits our experience of the future world Buddy lives in. Although we learn interesting details (milk is the only beverage served at honkytonks like the Bob-A-Lu on Highway 31, gospel groups with names like The Larks of the Lord tour the countryside), Buddy does not tell us how the fighting started, how much of the country is in Christian Soldier hands or how a religious fascist from Chippalee, Ala., started a second Civil War in the United States of America. Still, Buddy is marvelous to listen to, and his fresh young voice hints at true potential in its author.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Part allegory, part horror tale, and part apocalyptic prediction, this novel is set in Alabama in the near future at a time when the Christian Soldiers are fighting the Rebels. All is seen through the eyes of a 14-year-old who makes up reasons to explain what he does not know or understand. Buddy, an orphan, lives in the woods with Sack, a scary costume he uses when he wants to make an impression on the cruel adult world. He rescues Cissy, another orphan, and together they face the forces of evil and betrayal. First novelist McNair portrays a brutal world in which children must cope with pain and hardship too awful to comprehend. The story leaves questions unanswered and many problems to be faced; it is an alternative way of looking at a reality dominated by a narrow concept of religion run rampant. This book has the potential to become a word-of-mouth best seller. For most fiction collections.
Jo Ann Vicarel, Cleveland Heights-University Heights P.L., Ohio
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Charles McNair, a native of the Yellowhammer State of Alabama, released his first novel, Land O' Goshen, to critical acclaim. Land O' Goshen was a nominee for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1994. Charles currently lives in Atlanta where he writes full-time, combining freelance literary duties with assignments for corporations and businesses, including "Power of Storytelling" workshops. Since 2005, he has served as Books Editor for Paste magazine and shared his reviews on Atlanta radio station WMLB 1690 AM. He is currently at work on his third novel, The Epicureans. Visit Charles online at charlesmcnairauthor.com.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Charles McNair's novel Land O'Goshen is one of the most unusually entertaining books I have ever read. I find myself referring to it often as a source of inspiration in the art of creativity for both myself and my students. I have had the great pleasure of hearing Mr. McNair read from his novel and that experience truly brought the book to life. Each year my students beg me to read it to them and I try to emulate his style of "performing" the work. If I could only get him to visit my classroom and share with my students his thoughts on writing, his use of language, and his incredibly entertaining way with words-both written and spoken !
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
McNair has a Southerner’s penchant for imbedded metaphor and colorful language. Of a barroom fight, he writes, “His hands gripped that pool cue so hard . . . I thought sawdust might come out between his fingers.” And he has a Southerner’s penchant for the grotesque since surely one main character in this wondrous novel is “The Wild Thang,” an outlandish, smelly full-body disguise that the young fourteen-year-old hero, Buddy, snitches from a circus. In the circus tent, the Wild Thang struck fear into the onlookers. With Buddy’s additional dead animal skins and feathers garnered from the wild woods, the disguise becomes nearly supernatural, instilling complete surrender and pandemonium. It’s Buddy’s plan to use the Wild Thang, aka “Sack,” to correct the hatred that has been fomented by “The New Times,” a religious right movement separating people into Christian Soldiers (literally) and Devils (figuratively) and bringing on a second bloody Civil War.

Early on, Buddy’s plans encounter a snafu when during one full moon rampage, a young girl spies Buddy lifting off Sack’s headpiece. Ah, but romance sets in. This positive impulse is certainly welcome and it separates McNair’s novel from other dystopic novels, for instance Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. But do read them both, for they serve as an artistic warning to theocracy.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Charles McNair's Land O'Goshen is a book that has stayed with me since its 1994 publication. McNair puts us into a post-apocalyptic nightmare of society run amok, being pulled in chains to the RIGHT way of thinking, even the ONLY way of thinking and living. Fundamentalist Christian soldiers are ever on the lookout for those who aren't right enough, who flaunt the rules of this new world. The writing is lush, and I found myself deeply attracted by certain twists of a story so coiled in on itself that escape is impossible. Today, as a liberal working hard to stay centrist, the gritty truth in Land O'Goshen makes me want to jump to the left, to persuade others to do so...yikes, I want to scream that what McNair proposes in fiction is beginning to come true. I pride myself on sensibility and on living as free of fear as possible, but Land O'Goshen makes me want to tear up all possible means of identity and find a cave on an island where I can't be assassinated for my liberal beliefs. So I admit to one fear, that the book is nonfiction. Or, at the least, an eerily accurate prophesy of what is to come. If so, I would say to my friends, we must get the hell out of Dodge while we still can.

Funny, I didn't mention funny. McNair is such a skillful writer that he can speak of the unspeakable in a way that will have the reader laughing without understanding why. A sort of gallows humor but more so. Imagine a prisoner with a rope around his neck while strapped to an elevated electric chair with a loaded syringe inserted in his forearm. Before kicking the chair out from under the man, flipping the switch for the lethal current, and pushing the plunger on the hypodermic, the executioner says, "Maybe we should have added a guillotine and a firing squad just to be sure.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 31, 1999
Format: Paperback
The religious right will definitely not be happy, and to be honest they probably aren't as dangerous or sinister as "Land O' Goshen" would have us believe.
Still, McNair effectively captures the language and spirit of the Bible Belt, no doubt drawing on personal experiences as a Dothan, AL native. And, clearly, he understands the problems that come from placing blind faith in ANY body - left OR right - who seek to control the manner in which people live their lives.
Decidedly liberal - but pleasantly so - this 40-ish writer has largely hit the target about the proper balance between self-determination VS society-fitting behavior. Given the age of the protagonist and his young female companion, the suggested sexuality of this piece is troubling, but also easy to believe. Writing in dialect, southern or otherwise, always risks slowing the reader down and pulling the reader out of the book. That's a minor problem with this piece, but not terribly so. If one reads in larger chunks instead of a few pages at a time, the eyes and mind fall into the rhythm easily enough.
Except for shorter works published in the Black Warrior Review and other venues, this is the first published long-form from this author. A friend and dorm-mate of author Mark Childress while in school at the University of Alabama, McNair has not matched the flow of his chum - but he seems well positioned to come back to "pick up the spare."
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