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Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat Paperback – April 1, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Andrez Bergen is an expatriate Australian author, journalist, DJ, photographer and musician, based in Tokyo, Japan.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 234 pages
  • Publisher: another sky press (April 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0984559701
  • ISBN-13: 978-0984559701
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,780,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 11, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Andrez Bergen, Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat (Another Sky Press, 2011)

Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher (long enough ago that I'm embarrassed to admit it).

Review tagline: Deus ex Maquina: The Goats of War

The biggest drawback to Andrez Bergen's sci-fi-noir mystery Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat is that it relies on one of the mystery genre's most annoying artificial constructs: the repressed memory. Whenever I see repressed memory pop up as a plotline without some sort of external agent to facilitate memory loss (a fancy way of saying “you drugged your character, beat him about the head, or both”), it is always, and nakedly, a device that is used for the sole purpose of keeping the reader in the dark about a crucial piece of the plot. That might not be an awful thing were “repressed memory syndrome” an actual disease rather than something that got made up by opportunists during the Satanic Panic scare of the seventies and eighties (“repressed memory syndrome” was the main mechanism behind the bogus accusations against the McMartin workers and their families). It is not a real condition, but it has caused real harm. Please, authors, stop using it.

Which is bad, because after a rocky first twenty pages or so, Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat found its voice and kind of soared. It's noir, so there's nothing in here that's terribly unpredictable if you've read enough pulp noir or seen enough forties and fifties thrillers to have a basic grasp of noir plot structure, but it's not really about the destination, is it?

Scott Campbell's wonderful cover art does not prepare you for the trip that you are about to take.
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Format: Paperback
Andrez Bergen's Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat (TSMG) is set in a post-apocalyptic Melbourne, Australia at an unspecified point in the future where the fortunate ones live an opulent life secure under the high tech Dome which encases the city. The less fortunate live a harsh existence in rundown areas on the outskirts of the Dome in a world where the sun seldom shines and acid rain seems to fall endlessly.

Our narrator, Floyd Maquina, is a Seeker. Employed by the government to hunt down so-called Deviants for what is euphemistically called "hospitalization," Floyd has the authority to terminate those who won't come along peacefully. It's something he's only had to do once, but that encounter weighs heavily on his mind, driving him to seek comfort in drugs, alcohol, and classic Hollywood films.

Indeed, Floyd peppers his narrative with copious references to films like The Maltese Falcon, The Third Man, The Big Sleep, and Brazil amongst others, and throws enough hardboiled slang around that a Tobacco-Stained Glossary and Encyclopedia Tobacciana are included as appendices.

With one foot planted firmly in a futuristic world where Seekers routinely undergo Matrix-like virtual reality "tests" to ensure they are still in the fold and capable of carrying out company orders, TSMG manages to simultaneously have its other foot rooted in an authentic, throwback, hardboiled detective vibe. And it is in that fuzzy blending of post-apocalyptic and old-school noir that TSMG carves out what is one of the most wonderfully unique books I've had the pleasure to read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic Melbourne Australia. But that's just the setting. The story isn't really about what life is like there (though there's plenty of that in the book). It's about some personal stuff the main character has to deal with. And deal with it he eventually does. Bergen develops this very well. It may seem a little slow in the beginning but there is enough to hold your interest. The story gets better and better all the time, has a wonderful climax, and maybe even a better ending.

Bergen has a writing style that you may either love or hate. For me I had to get used to him and then he started to grow on me. That happened when I read 100 Years of Vicissitude (read that one before I read TSMG). He first sounded like he was parodying the old clichéd detective stories narration. But the more I read him the more I thought he was just influenced by that stuff. Then I eventually got to like his style. He does credit Dashiell Hammett and others as influences. Anyway, if you're put off by his style you may want to hang in there because, by the end, you may be glad you stayed with it!
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Format: Paperback
I did not expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. Wow. At the beginning, I was having a bit of trouble trying to orient myself with this nasty, rainy, harsh environment. But then, the story came more into focus, and the characters started coming alive. Jumping from real world to the virtual tests confused me a little bit, but as they seemed to really screw with the poor Seekers taking them, too, I just kinda rolled with it.

I really felt for Floyd in spite of his drunken existance. I hurt for him, I was angry for him, I was right along with him as he started to reach out for loved ones as they started slipping away, family and friends alike. I am fairly young and didn't find myself struggling to figure out the film references (but maybe I'm just a nerd, who knows?) and enjoyed the mixture of languages (which I also didn't need the reference guides for, but appreciated that they were there). The guides at the end were fun for me to read, because I felt Mr. Bergen was conscientious about his readers and wanted his story to be accessible to people of many cultures. I also liked that although the story was set in Australia, Australians weren't the only culture left on the planet.

Floyd is admirably tough and lovable, which takes some strength in a world where people get snatched away for no good reasons thanks to corporate greed and politics. He manages to pull himself from a helpless position in his world to a position of power to try and save people he cares about as well as society in general... at least, whatever's left of it, soggy with acid rain and scarred by stuggling to grow in a dying world.
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