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Summary In the fall of , on the acre family deer-hunting ranch on Goat Mountain in Northern California, an eleven-year-old boy goes hunting with three men: his father, grandfather, and a friend of his father's. Goat Mountain is a dry place of live oak and buck brush and poison oak with occasional relief from stands of ponderosa pine, white pine, and sugar pine, and even a swampy bear wallow.
This is the place where all the family's memories and stories and history are held. When the men arrive at the gate to their land, the father spots a poacher hunting illegally on his property. When he lets his eleven-year-old son take a look through the scope of his rifle, the boy pulls the trigger.
The men struggle over what to do with the dead man.
Though the struggle begins between the father and grandfather, it ultimately becomes a struggle between the grandfather and the boy. By the end, nothing is as it seems. Bibliographic information. Browse related items Start at call number: PS The men of a Californian ranching family are deer hunting when they spot a poacher on a distant outcrop.
An year-old boy picks him off with his rifle. Arguments about what to do with the body — and the boy himself — turn rancorous and violent over the remainder of the hunt.
Finally, it seems only another killing will provide the way out of their tragic impasse. Vann evokes the scrub, ridges and conifers of northern California with the meticulous eye of a great landscape artist.
While the themes are stark — he seems fixated on how families tear themselves apart — Vann operates at such extremes with a hard-won natural authority. Yet the novel also suffers from what might be called a surfeit of ambition. Where Vann once amassed dread by a fiercely understated style, here his prose apes the cosmic grandiloquence of the notoriously inimitable Cormac McCarthy. Moreover, instead of letting the action speak for itself, the retrospective narration provides what feels like an overwrought commentary upon it, replete with enervating biblical analogies and dogged thematic arguments.
Man is, we are insistently told, a beast with an innate instinct to kill. By the end, it feels like this is the real tragedy.
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