Terrific! Insightful! You’ll come away… changed.
A world of magic and furries. A desperate gay boy, a straight sadist. Who is the victim? This is The Goat, by Bill Kieffer. Extraordinarily well written. A piece of insightful fantasy. I haven’t seen the heart and mind of a sadist portrayed this well in some time, and the twist ending? Just magnificent! The Goat is a walk at night through unfamiliar lands, a 3 AM stroll down a dark and silent alley. Prepare yourself to partake in something you never imagined. You’ll come away… changed.
I knew some furry-boys when I lived in Portland. OR. My house was a safe space before I knew the term, so they came for dinner wearing their ears and tails. Like all of my guests, they were welcomed for who they are, and for who they wish to be. If it were you, then in whatever manner you wished the world to know you, you would have been welcomed at my table. I welcome all the kinds. I honestly do.
I can’t say I ever fully understood what it is to be a furry. Initially I thought, is it a fetish? Is it purely sexual? As (a far more formal) friend of mine once said: “One simply doesn’t question one’s guests.” Having read Kieffer’s The Goat, I think I understand a little more now than I did then. Oh, I gleaned a little knowledge and a little insight at those parties. I learned that it’s not a fetish or purely sexual. I learned that it’s about identity, but thanks to Bill Kieffer, I have deeper more experiential perspective to consider, and a good deal more insight than I gathered through any casual after-dinner conversation. I have him to thank for this all too rare glimpse into the soul of another.
The story itself is aggressive. It’s told in the first person. It’s the world seen through the eyes of a high school bully, now an adult and admitted sadist. But the world we see through those eyes is not our own, not overtly. There’s magic in that world. Magic is loose in that world. It’s a dangerous urban world where even the car manufacturers understand the value of a ward on your brake lines. In that world lives Glenn, a scrawny and pale young man who wants to be transformed into a goat, a herbivore, a prey species.
I liked the parallels in this story. I liked the portrayal of bias. In The Goat, the Elder Council that decides such matters fully understands the desire any boy might have to become a predator of some kind, but a herbivore? Prey? What has to be wrong with you to desire such a thing? No. Such licenses are rare, so rare as to be almost rumor. But Glenn does not have the magic to transform himself. No one does. You need another, a least for the first time. But to do the deed without the approval of the council, well that’s a crime. It’s considered murder. Enter Frank, our narrator and perfectly reasonable brute and sadist. Who better to serve the yearning prey, than a notorious predator from his past?
Thematically, I suppose, we might draw some associations between Glenn and ourselves. After all, which of us is fully comfortable in our bodies? If we could find someone who could work a spell, and in a flash of an instant, transform us into the ideal that we hold in our mind’s eye, which of us wouldn’t give that more than a moment’s thought? To lose a few pounds, to put on some muscle, or to re-experience that vigor of life a younger form would grant, and all of that in an instant and flash? Oh yes, I think we would. But for Glenn, it is not a matter of casual desire. For him the need runs deep. For Glenn, his human form is the living and literal embodiment of “God’s mistake.” It’s a mistake Glenn intends to correct with all the stubborn insistence of a goat.
What comes next I will not steal from you. Read the story. The struggle between love and desire, the violence between two very different men, both physical and emotional, and the raw human emotion in these pages will keep you engaged. And as to the twist (and twisted) ending, I’ll only say this: When you toy with the heart of a sadist, you might get what you want, but not what you desire.
5 Stars. #MustRead