Shit Magnet BOOK review

Book Reviews
Shit Magnet BOOK review
May 1, 2002, 00:01

SHIT MAGNET by Jim Goad; Feral House, 2002

Given the fact that Jim Goad joyfully admits in Shit Magnet to physically threatening critics who have reviewed his work unfavorably, let me say up front that I enjoyed this book immensely (honestly, I did). Written while in prison, the book details the events that led up to Mr. Goad serving a two-and-a-half year sentence for assaulting his girlfriend. Well structured, well written and, for the most part, well reasoned, Shit Magnet is an engaging read that pulls you along, eager to find out what exactly happened. Known for his zine ANSWER Me! and his previous book Redneck Manifesto, Mr. Goad offers up, from his own horrible experience, a case study on violence and a convincing argument that the legal system gives violent women a pass while forcing men to pay the price.

Goad obviously is the proud owner of an ego the size of Texas, and his narcissism at times gets in the way of his narrative. However, it is a mark of his abilities as a writer that he can pull you into his self-obsession and make you care about what happened to him, despite the fact that as a person he is, to be polite, less than likeable.

That said, the book is not without its faults. The first few chapters that detail his traumatic childhood paint grim scenes that certainly serve his point that violence has always been an unfortunate but unavoidable part of his life, and that aggressive instincts were programmed into him at a young age. However, he lays it on a bit thick and these chapters quickly devolve into a trite “my family was more dysfunctional than yours” tirade.

Goad is also less than honest with himself and the reader about his motivation in continuing a relationship that was very clearly unhealthy for both himself and his girlfriend. He claims that he kept getting back together with this woman, despite the fact that he knew she was mentally unbalanced, she was physically violent with him repeatedly and she destroyed his property because … well, because, “part of me is a romantic sap.” Any takers on that one? He would be better served by admitting that he simply wasn't willing to give up on a girl who worshipped him like a groupie, considered his cock her “baby bottle” and encouraged him to slap her around despite the train wreck that he and everyone else saw coming.

The most troubling aspect of the book are the comments Goad makes in reference Debbie, his ex-wife, who died of cancer before he completed his prison sentence. In an attempt to justify the fact that he cheated on her, he spends a number of pages detailing her failures as a human being and as a wife, and labels her, among other things, a “retard.” He then has the gall to close the book with a rather maudlin passage describing the sadness he felt at the passing of “the only person I ever loved.” Sorry dude, but you can't have it both ways. To mercilessly savage her in one portion of the book and eulogize her in another is not only inconsistent, but crass and heartless.

The 64-dollar question raised by the book is: Did Jim Goad deserve to spend two-and-a-half years in prison for beating his girlfriend?” My opinion is no, but I don't buy his argument that he didn't deserve any time, either. While he and his girlfriend both willingly danced the dance, and she certainly did her share of damage, he didn't come out of it with his face caved in. Read it and decide for yourself.

-Brett Horn

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