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The Goat: Building the Perfect Victim Paperback – September 29, 2016
The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
Bill Kieffer was born in Jersey City, NJ. He never fully recovered. A brain injury at an early age left him with some mild issues and just enough aphasia to be amusing at parties. He tries to be very open about these. He doesn't drink, having the bare minimum of inhibitions to begin with. He also tends to describe himself in negatives. He's happily married to a woman who encouraged him to discover and explore his sexuality. She also encourages him to keep on his meds. They both dabble in writing erotica. He is bisexual but does not stray. She is straight and the relationship is only open in the sense that he tells her everything (they blame rumors to the contrary on his aphasia). When he is not looking in the mirror, Bill Kieffer is actually a 6 foot tall gray anthropomorphic draft horse that types as Greyflank. He is a member of the Furry Writers Guild and has recently published short stories in several Furry anthologies put out by Fur Planet. Past writing credits include comic books like "Billy Joe Van Helsing: Red Neck Vampire Hunter" and "Great Morons in History, the Dan Quayle Bio."
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I think by far my favorite parts were the interactions between Glenn and Frank, and the fact that Glenn is just trying to get by ignoring the darkest parts of himself and what is inside, but Frank wants something else for him entirely. They form an interesting team and it makes a pleasant conflict in the story. I would definitely recommend this book to people who like wild fables with some crazy things happening set in a dystopian fantasy.
Sound insane? Bill Kieffer’s The Goat: Building the Perfect Victim is a dark fantasy that melds fantasy, psychological horror, and biting social commentary. The resulting tale isn’t for everyone. The story goes to uncomfortable places, reminding us of one writer’s advice for writing complex characterization (“Poke a wound”). Expect a surprise ending, though the biggest surprise may be the love story that constitutes this tale’s twisted spine.
The Goat is an impressive fable—clever and subversive. Kieffer's prose is playful, poetic and brutal in turns. Highly recommended.
Second, I didn’t label this a gay story as Goodreads did. Our main character doesn’t identify as queer (even though he clearly has some closet issues) so I can’t call this a queer book. It’s really that simple. Yes, he has sexual relations with a man in this novel, but it’s twisted and pushes the boundaries of fiction. Honestly, I don’t think we want this in the queer category.
*shoves the book at the straights* “Here, you take it! He’s one of yours!”
All joking aside, I’m not sure Frank really addresses his issues enough to have this be a queer story, and the way he does cope is rather… counterproductive and disturbing.
The blurb is a bit vague about what the book is about. I’m guessing that’s intentional, but I’ll give you a bit more because I don’t think it’ll spoil anything for you. It’s about jealousy and anger and trust and dysphoria. The setting is a world where magic exists. Most of this magic is evocation, illusion, enchantment, and transmutation based, and the world is affected by magic in nearly every way, from schools to fast food. Frank works in an auto shop and creates enchantments for cars for a living, everything from that new car smell to anti shatter window runes.
Specifically, the book centers around a group of mages who aren’t satisfied with their human bodies, and feel as if they should have been born in the body of an animal. Glenn is one of those mages. Unfortunately he also sucks at magic and he was denied access to the spells to turn him into his desired animal by some sort of magical governing body. He’s at his psychological lowest when he runs into a Frank, his old high school bully.
Frank sees Glenn’s vulnerability and abuses it, and Glenn puts up with the abuse because he’s desperate to have the humanity beaten out of him, so he can feel more like his true animal self.
Now, I don’t usually post my star rating in a review–you can always follow my Goodreads page if you want that kind of information–but I will tell you I rated this book four stars. Why? Why did I do that, when I hate abuse and Frank is a terrible person? Especially while there were probably more typos and errors than there should be in a published product?
Because the story was told well.
It was chilling and gruesome and I loved to hate Frank. He was vile and petty and angry and–oh my gods–he was glorious in his rage. The plot was short and sweet, building up to a beautiful trainwreck. My soul bled–it was damn therapeutic.
This book will probably push a lot of boundaries for you. It pushed a lot of boundaries for me, and I happen to love cruel protagonists and violence.
If I had one legit complaint–besides the grammatical errors–it would be that the entire theme around Glenn and his fellow mages wanting to be animals was tragically similar to trans issues, and probably wasn’t handled as sensitively as it could have been. However, this wasn’t about trans issues. It was an allusion to a world I know nothing about, so I’ll defer to Kieffer for how furry culture should be handled.
I will say this, it certainly left an impression.