Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat by Andrez Bergen

Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat

a review by Nalini Haynes

Floyd, the central character, is a Seeker whose job is to capture or kill those who are deemed by the government to be deviant. He was recruited into this job to pay for his wife’s medical treatment after she fell ill. Laurel, a Lauren Bacall lookalike, is Floyd’s girlfriend.  Written in a pseudo-stream-of-consciousness style, Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat requires the reader to be familiar with numerous films from the mid-twentieth century.

The films Bergen references are used as substitutes for descriptions, as references for trains of thought and as analogies for Floyd’s life. Floyd appears to be a pseudo-Bogart character, self-obsessed and addicted to alcohol and cigarettes. The title of the book is apparently a reference to a George Sanders movie, where he refers to the dog as a tobacco stained mountain goat. When this was revealed about a quarter of the way through, I gave up on the book in the belief that I just won’t get it.

My reaction to this novel is in no way a reflection on this novel. I suspect that Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat may fall under the umbrella of ‘Literary Fiction’ of which I am not a fan. I’ve read some Jules Verne, Bronte sisters, D. H. Lawrence and more simply because it was Literature and so commonly referenced. I felt my education was incomplete without having read these works. From these works I learnt that I must be a Philistine. My tastes in Literature are limited to Austen, Brave New World, Lord of the Rings and similar. Therefore I call upon readers who are movie buffs of the black & white kind of movie, and who also enjoyed Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat. Please, write in with reviews of this novel.

Previously published in Dark Matter issue 4, July 2011, blog post predated to reflect the original publication date.