Land, Brad 1976–

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Land, Brad 1976–


Born 1976. Education: Attended Western Michigan University and Clemson University; University of North Carolina at Wilmington, M.F.A.


Home—SC. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer and editor. Former fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, NH.


Goat: A Memoir, Random House (New York, NY), 2004.

Pilgrims upon the Earth: A Novel, Random House (New York, NY), 2007.

Former nonfiction editor, Third Coast (Western Michigan University publication).


Goat has been optioned for film by Killer Films.


Brad Land's first book, Goat: A Memoir, received widespread praise from critics for the author's remembrance of the impact violence has had on his life. A contributor to USA Today called the book ‘a raw and engaging account,’ and Boston Globe critic DeWitt Henry wrote that Goat ‘reads as credibly as first-rate fiction."

In his memoir, Land tells the story of a robbery and beating followed by his days at college and his experience with hazing. When Land was nineteen years old, he gave a ride to two young men who turned out to be thieves. They robbed and beat Land, left him lying on the road outside of town, and stole his car. A self-described meek wallflower, Land was emotionally broken by the incident and he found himself relying even more on his much more worldly, charming, and confident younger brother, Brett. Eventually, Land followed his brother to Clemson University and joined Brett's fraternity, Kappa Sigma, where he underwent the ritualistic hazing associated with fraternities. He describes this as being just as dehumanizing as his beating by the criminals. ‘His experiences as a subhuman pledge, or ‘goat,’ are rife with abuse and humiliation but lacking in anything like brotherhood, and Land casts them as a more controlled, socially sanctioned version of his earlier beating,’ explained Mark Holcomb in the Village Voice. Land eventually quits the fraternity while another friend, Will, decides to stick it out only to be voted out of the fraternity and die of heart attack. Despite no direct connection between the two events, Land feels that the fraternity was somehow responsible for Will's death. In his memoir, Land ultimately must face questions concerning group violence and surrendering to violence and violent people. He also explores his own anxious need to belong.

Land compared the violence he experienced from the brutal robbers and at the fraternity in an interview with Robert Fleming in Publishers Weekly. He noted that ‘there are parallels between sanctioned violence such as the hazing and random violence such as my assault,’ adding: ‘You may ask yourself, which is worse, but they are the same thing.’ The author also commented in the interview: ‘The violence that bothers me is when those in power exploit their position to humiliate someone."

Land's story of physical and psychological abuse reverberated with critics. Linda Beck, writing in the Library Journal, commented: ‘This is one of those impossible-to-put-down books, though readers may need to take a breather from the violence and graphic language.’ Several reviewers specifically commented on Land's writing style. For example, a Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that Land writes with ‘a uniquely hip narrative style, gritty with plenty of heart.’ In a similar vein, Keir Graff wrote in Booklist: ‘Land's clipped prose lends this memoir a feeling of immediacy, and he adds novelistic weight to simple, almost primitive dialogue.’ While most reviewers focused on the violent aspects of the book, some noted another key element of the tale. ‘The best part of the book is Land's description of his relationship with his brother,’ stated Emily Lloyd in the School Library Journal. The film rights to Goat have been purchased by Killer Films. Jocelyn Hayes, a producer for Killer Films, told David Rooney in the Daily Variety: ‘This is a fascinating exploration of the relationship between strength and masculinity; of being masculine without being macho and violent."

Land turns from fact to fiction with Pilgrims upon the Earth: A Novel. Set in 1980s' South Carolina, the novel features Terry Webber, a fifteen-year-old high school student in the downtrodden town of Issaqeena. Terry's mother is dead and his father works in a textile factory and has little time or inclination to keep a watch over his son. Already smoking and drinking, Terry observes the dead-end lives of his fellow classmates, which leads one to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head. Eventually, Terry meets a kindred spirit in Alice, who wants to go off to Boulder, Colorado, to see her sister, who is, according to Alice, living in a commune. As Terry and Alice drive out of town to trek across the country, Alice is killed in a horrific car accident. Although Terry returns home, a series of incidents eventually lead him to take to the road again in search of Alice's sister.

Michael Cart, writing in Booklist, referred to Pilgrims upon the Earth as being as ‘equally bleak and violent’ as the author's memoir; he went on to write that ‘the novel does generate a cumulative power.’ David L. Ulin reviewed the book for the Los Angeles Times, where he commented that the author ‘is a superior writer, and his idiosyncratic sense of language ultimately redeems the book. It is relentless, unsentimental, an experiment meant to prove that words don't so much reveal as they obscure the human heart."



Land, Brad, Goat: A Memoir, Random House (New York, NY), 2004.


Booklist, December 15, 2003, review of Goat, p. 709; December 15, 2003, Keir Graff, review of Goat, p. 709; May 15, 2007, Michael Cart, review of Pilgrims upon the Earth: A Novel, p. 21.

Boston Globe, February 29, 2004, DeWitt Henry, ‘The High Price of Brotherhood,’ review of Goat.

Daily Variety, March 8, 2004, David Rooney, ‘Killer Get Author's ‘Goat’,’ p. 6.

Entertainment Weekly, January 23, 2004, review of Goat, p. 70; February 13, 2004, Gregory Kirschling, ‘Greek Tragedy: Hazed and Confused, a First-Time Author Compares the Brutal Violence He Endured as an Assault Victim and as a Fraternity Pledge,’ p. 76.

Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2003, review of Goat, p. 1301; May 15, 2007, review of Pilgrims upon the Earth.

Library Journal, November 15, 2003, Linda Beck, review of Goat, p. 76.

Los Angeles Times, (August 11, 2007), David L. Ulin, review of Pilgrims upon the Earth.

New York Times Book Review, February 29, 2004, Heidi Julavits, ‘Hazing,’ p. 13.

People, March 8, 2004, J.D. Heyman, review of Goat, p. 40.

Publishers Weekly, November 3, 2003, review of Goat, p. 61; November 3, 2003, Robert Fleming, ‘The Effects of Brutality,’ interview with author, p. 62; May 10, 2004, John F. Baker, ‘Brad Land, Author of a Well-Received Memoir about Deadly College Hazing Activities, Goat, Has Now Written a Novel, Just Signed by Lee Boudreaux at Random,’ p. 11; April 30, 2007, review of Pilgrims upon the Earth, p. 136.

San Francisco Chronicle, February 15, 2004, Jamie Berger, review of Goat.

San Jose Mercury News, February 18, 2004, ‘Unsparing Memoir ‘Goat’ Recalls Brutal Acts."

School Library Journal, April, 2004, Emily Lloyd, review of Goat, p. 184.

USA Today, February 19, 2004, ‘Raw ‘Goat’ Is Hip and Harrowing,’ p. 07.

Village Voice, February 4-10, 2004, Mark Holcomb, ‘Brutal Youth,’ review of Goat.


Goat Web site, (October 29, 2007).

Miami Hurricane Online, (April 8, 2005), Joanna Davila, ‘A Memoir Looks Closely at Fraternity Hazing."

Oregon Daily Emerald Online, (May 7, 2005), Josh Lintereur, ‘Brad Land Stylishly Powers Readers through His Disturbing Memoirs."