GOAT BROTHERS by Larry Colton


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 Heartfelt but taxing chronicle of the lives of five fraternity brothers from their 60's matriculation at USC-Berkeley to their present middle age. The modern prototype for freelance journalist Colton's (Sports Illustrated, New York Times Magazine, etc.) beefy tome could be Mary McCarthy's The Group. But Colton is working here with five men (including himself) whose backgrounds (white, middle-class, Californian) and interests (athletics, alcohol, sex) are so devoid of contrast that they demand painstaking study until each emerges as an individual--and that only far into the narrative. Colton is one of the most clearly delineated: A baseball natural since boyhood, he is signed by the Phillies and pitches minor league for six years, ascending briefly to the majors. His frank talk of life on the road while his marriage crumbles is captivating. Fellow Goat (Pi Kappa Alpha brother) Ron Vaughan is the other immediately distinctive character. Though one-eighth black, he joins the whites-only fraternity, and, though a gifted football player on scholarship, he is shy and reclusive, his true desire to become an architect. By his 30s, Ron has given away all his possessions and has wandered for years in a state of mental confusion. As the Goat brothers age, they grow both more individuated and more similar. Only one, Jim van Hoften, manages a stable family and career, finally becoming an astronaut. The rest have their hopes for self-improvement dashed by compulsive philandering, inability to form intimate partnerships, Type-A behavior, and binge drinking. And only Colton himself seems to have any self-insight: The others, except perhaps van Hoften, endlessly repeat the same behavior, hoping for new results. A sometimes arduous climb with Colton's goats to scale his nearly quarter-million-word mountain, but some compelling views along the way--and likely to receive attention for its baby- boomer focus. (B&w photos--not seen.)

Pub Date: Feb. 5th, 1993
ISBN: 0-385-24407-X
Page count: 560pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1992


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