Picks and Pans Review: Goat

updated 03/08/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/08/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

By Brad Land
MEMOIR

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Talk about Hell Week. After deciding to join Kappa Sigma, his kid brother's fraternity at Clemson University, Land was forced to drink scalding hot beer, wash cups filled with chewed tobacco and do jumping jacks with other hapless pledges ("goats") while fellow Greeks lobbed footballs at them. Somehow he thought the abuse would help him get over a previous attack, in which he was beaten by two hitchhikers who stole his car. Instead it left him shattered and, when he quit, ostracized. "They all forget me and I can't forget them," he writes of his frat brothers. "I never existed." Goat is a heartfelt look at how violence can poison young men's lives, but his topic is a hoary one. After all the cautionary TV movies, Goat can't tell us much about hazing we don't already know: namely, that being ritually brutalized for the right to fit in isn't fun. Better to join the chess club.

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