Shit Magnet: One Man’s Miraculous Ability to Absorb the World’s Guilt by Jim Goad

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book Title:  Shit Magnet: One Man’s Miraculous Ability to Absorb the World’s Guilt

Author: Jim Goad

Why I Consider This Book Odd:  1)  Jim Goad wrote it.  If you have been paying attention to fringe and ‘zine culture for the last fifteen years or so, this should be enough said; and 2) The cover sports a pic of Goad praying under a large, behaloed turd.   I love the cover.  A lot.  I have always had a healthy love of all things scatological.

Type of Work:  non-fiction, memoir

Availability:  This book is still in print.  Published by Feral House, you can find it in any number of places.  One of them is Amazon.  Behold:

Comments:  Jim Goad is a lord of political incorrectness and the mind behind one of the most infamous ‘zines ever, ANSWER Me! Though I was aware of ANSWER Me! when I was in college, I never read any of the issues until 1-3 were released in a collection.  Though ANSWER Me! only released four issues, this ‘zine landed Goad into all sorts of unintended consequences that cemented his position as a shit magnet.  Shit Magnet is Goad’s side of all the notorious and, frankly, bad things that have happened to him, it is compelling reading to be sure and much of it is directly related to or stems from ANSWER Me!

Like when women felt violated, or raped as it were, by the infamous “rape” edition of ANSWER Me! and when they could not get the ‘zine removed from the shelves in a Portland store, they went after the stores on obscenity charges.  The stores were found not guilty, but it seemed that most people missed the greater irony of the “rape” issue.  The intent behind issue four was to demonstrate, as Goad eloquently put it, that “radical feminism had become so lost in theory and drowned in self-righteousness that rape had become viewed more of a political idea than a physical act.  Feminism had grown unable to distinguish words from actions to such a degree that the two became switched:  Women felt literally “assaulted” and “violated” by sexist language and imagery, whereas actual rape was viewed as an ideological tool of the patriarchy, almost more of a statement than an act.”  By trying to convict book stores of obscenity because Goad’s language “hurt” them, members of the feminist camp just proved his point for him.

(As an aside, as I was reading Shit Magnet, a news story came on describing how a Habitat for Humanity construction site was robbed.  The woman for whom the house was being built said that the theft was an assault against her and that she felt violated.  This inappropriate use of words describing violence for non-violent acts is now firmly entrenched in the popular mind.)

But it got worse for Goad.  The 1994  White House Shooter, who discharged an SKS assault rifle outside the White House, evidently read ANSWER Me! 2 and found inspiration for his actions.  Francisco Martin Duran read “Can you imagine a higher moral calling than to destroy someone’s dreams with a bullet…?” and decided the way to do this was to shoot impotently near the President’s abode.  Luckily Goad was not used as a witness at Duran’s trial, but the tenuous connection between Goad and Duran was cemented in the media and Goad became seen as a terrorist force.

And then the suicides…  Three seriously disturbed young Britons took a bizarre inspiration from ANSWER Me!, came to the USA, and killed themselves.  These suicides were especially haunting for Goad because one of the girls involved called him shortly before the suicides in order to verify his address (she did not explain why she needed the address nor did Goad ask why but after she was dead Goad received a sum of money that he returned to her parents).  She was silent on the phone and Goad, unable to pull much out of her, eventually terminated the conversation.  Goad empathized with the girl to an almost unbearable level, understanding all too well the impulses behind suicide and wishing he could have done something to stop it.

But while all of this and more show Goad’s role as a shit magnet, the soundest argument for Goad as a weather vane for bad juju happened in the form of Anne Ryan.

Jim Goad is a man who did some bad things.  He admits that over the course of their marriage, he hit his wife Debbie at least ten times.  He admits to cheating on her.  His marriage had been a mess for a while when he met Anne Ryan, or rather Anne Ryan made herself known to him.  This introduction roughly corresponded to Debbie Goad’s diagnosis with terminal ovarian cancer.

By his own admission, Goad’s relationship with Ryan became very sick very quickly, the two of them going so far as to have sex in Debbie’s bed while she was in the hospital receiving chemo.  And while I am certainly no apologist for Goad’s clear shitheadedness in the realm of personal relationships, Ryan was a nightmare.  When Goad began to pull away from her, she waged a full-bore campaign to both terrorize him and to get him back.  Goad, whose emotional life was unraveling at a rapid clip, found it difficult to maintain his own restraining order against Ryan, and his relationship with her became even more bizarre.

According to Goad, Ryan would wrap herself around his legs or torso in a vise grip to prevent him from leaving.  She physically attacked him when he was driving.  After sex one night, as things were going straight to hell (and Jesus, Goad still slept with her after her death threats, her violence and ironclad evidence that she was crazy), she trashed his apartment and took a shovel to his car.  And still he could not stay away from her.

The horrible relationship finally came crashing to a halt when Goad finally lost his shit and beat the hell out of Ryan.  Despite the history of both mutual and one-sided combat, Goad faced 25 years for assault and kidnapping, but ultimately Ryan proved such a bad witness with a history of mental illness and bad acts that Goad was able to plea down and served less than three years.  I think anyone who looks at the case with open eyes will see that had Goad not already been notorious for ANSWER Me!, his assault case would not have attracted the attention and the call for extreme justice that it did.

Goad’s situation with Ryan brings up a cultural norm I have always felt was stupid – men should never hit women.  Really?  Even when a woman hits a man first?  Even when a woman hits a man repeatedly first?  Even when a woman is posing a clear danger to a man or to someone else?  Why exactly is it that men cannot do a thing to harm a woman without utter public censure from the extreme left, but women can harm men and sometimes become cultural icons for doing so.  As Goad says in the book, “When Lorena Bobbitt sliced off her husband’s bratwurst, comedians joked about it for a year.  Imagine the laughter if he’d mutilated her vagina.”

Some people may wonder why I believe Goad’s accounts over anything that Anne Ryan had to say on the topic.  My answer is that I had formed an opinion of her before I ever read Shit Magnet.  I felt creeped out by her before I ever even knew Goad’s side of what happened. One day, when aimlessly Googling and Wiki-ing, I stumbled across a site run by Anne Ryan, or Sky Ryan as she went by on the site  The site is no longer extant, but it used to have an unlinked path, available only through Google searches, that contained the last diary entries by Debbie Goad before she died of ovarian cancer.

In reading those journal entries, I felt something was seriously wrong.  Anne Ryan, who had hated Debbie Goad and slept with her husband as she lay ill, somehow allied herself with Debbie, a sick and deeply troubled woman, before and after Jim went to prison.  Debbie’s diary entries described a bizarre conversion to Christianity and accusations against Goad that seemed unrealistic on their very face.  I can believe that Goad hit Debbie – he cops to it in Shit Magnet – but I cannot believe he hurt their animals.  As I read the accounts of animal abuse, I felt like Debbie was being manipulated, that someone was egging her on to create stories in her fragile mental state.

But worse were the depictions of Debbie contacting people on the other side, dead people (or at least people she thought were dead – I recall her making contact with Ronald Reagan a cool five years before he died).  The whole diary was a depiction into a dying woman’s descent into madness, and it seemed disgraceful and manipulative to have posted it.  Moreover, that Ryan, who had mocked Debbie as she screwed her husband, ingratiated or inveigled herself into Debbie’s life and posted Debbie’s saddest moments, gave me pause about believing anything she had said about Goad.  There is something…  sick or unsettling in Ryan’s association with Debbie Goad.  I cannot find the words to express how disturbing I found it.  When I read Ryan’s site, I wanted to read Shit Magnet and find out more about it but I never got around to it until I started this site.

The sort of person who could, in the name of supposedly making amends, exploit a dying woman is far scarier to me than a man who might hit me in the face if I push him over the edge.  Goad discusses in the book how Debbie and Anne allied themselves in an attempt to assassinate his character and rewrite their histories with him, but I already sort of knew all of that just from that unlinked path on Anne/Sky Ryan’s old site.

Goad’s time in prison was the hardest part of this book for me to read, even outstripping his depictions of the abuse he suffered as a child.  As someone who loathes the heat, fears germs and disease, his time in prison reads like a page from my own nightmares.   I cannot abide pointless noise, and I am not what could be called a people person – the overcrowding with marginal people, people carrying AIDS and Hepatitis C – and I don’t think I could have mentally survived had I physically survived.

I may sound like an apologist for Goad, and this may seem odd because I am a feminist.  I am a feminist in the sense that all women deserve equal protection under law.  But I haven’t always been like this.  I was a young adult during the rise of political correctness and there were about five years where I was completely insufferable with my holier-than-thou-ness.  I can recall when the extremely controversial issue 4 of ANSWER Me!, the so-called rape edition, was released and the furor it caused in the feminist and freedom of speech communities and, at the time, I thought censoring him was bad, though I also felt Goad was probably beneath contempt, based on what I heard about him.  I didn’t know enough really to have an informed opinion but hive minds can do that to you. You just sort of fall in line with your contemporaries and subject your mental will to theirs.

But as I got older, I changed.  What happened?  A bunch of stuff. But the most important catalyst was that I was exposed to the stupidity and unthinking rhetoric of the PC movement and saw how dangerous it could be when not tempered by good sense.

I was roommates with a drunk “feminist” who would drink until she blacked out and then would have sex with men and later call it rape, even though the men were often as drunk as she, even though she would flirt outrageously with them beforehand, making it clear sex was on her agenda.  She was such a severe drunk she had totaled two cars under the influence and wrecked more than just two lives with her political extremism coupled with her alcoholism.  When these sex acts occurred, she never said no, even when drunk, but because she was drunk, she considered it rape.  She was indeed drunk, but so were the men she accused of a terrible crime.

But interestingly, when a man I knew was an actual rapist, in the sense that he beat and overpowered a woman and had sex with her as she fought and begged him to stop, was a study partner of hers and she became extremely angry when I told her what I knew of him (he is now a registered sex offender and the woman whom he he assaulted was left with a broken jaw and was covered in bruises – hardly the “rapes” my roommate endured).   She called it rumor-mongering when one objected to a real rapist being in the house.  It bears mentioning that he was wealthy and very good looking and she had a terrible crush on him.  That’s a rule that the extremely politically correct follow:  My rules don’t apply to me when I don’t want them to because I am purer than you and ultimately know better than you, even when the evidence points to the contrary.

She also saw “cultural rape” everywhere and could take offense at the slightest thing – I recall her losing her shit over the song “Brick House” and raving about how music like that caused sexual assault.  (She was strangely silent about the song “Polly Says” by her favorite band, Nirvana, because when Kurt empathized with a man who raped and murdered a child, it was something more acceptable than when a bunch of men sang about a woman’s beauty and sexual appeal.)  In many ways, she was a social terrorist and living with her changed my mind about how I think about a lot of things, but mainly, it crushed my ability to call myself a feminist for many years.  She was insane and I did not want to be lumped into any category that included her. I am over it now and call myself a feminist but I am always uneasy that people may think I am somehow like my old roommate, a woman willing to harm people, men especially, to prove an irrational point.

Living with this sort of hypocrisy will do one of two things.  It will further entrench unthinking allegiance with sick rhetoric or it will force you to reevaluate what you consider to be certain societal truths.  I feel lucky the latter happened to me, and I say this knowing that any hardcore feminist will read this and say that by rejecting certain dogmas, I am in a sense advocating rape and worse.  That’s the tyranny of extremism.  So it goes.

Everyone’s interpretation of their life has self-serving elements to it, and Goad’s is no exception, but his version of his life rings truer to me than that of his detractors.  I also realize my belief is heavily tempered with my sympathy for the devil, but there you go.  Goad’s writing style appeals to me, and his sentence structure throughout the book gives a sort of immediacy to his prose.  As one reads, one feels as if one is hearing a man speaking his thoughts, in a sort of stream of consciousness, except unlike most SOC accounts, his thoughts make linear as well as overall sense.

Also, there is a touching sadness to this book.  Goad laid himself bare in this book and as a reader, I appreciated his candor.   To be so honest is not easy, especially when such honesty may not reflect well on you.  Overall, I found this to be a fascinating book.

10 thoughts on “Shit Magnet: One Man’s Miraculous Ability to Absorb the World’s Guilt by Jim Goad

  1. Michael Verses has a brain. He is a published poet, an educated Satanist, and is damn funny! We like you a lot and Michael calls you the”Marquis de Sade Of the 21st Century.” Please Email me, Wendy, bacK? Much like Debbie Goad, I am a nicely deranged Jewish girl, who just wants your body! Really, there are a few redeeming females. Hope to hear from you. Wendy and Mike, unassuming authors/misanthropes.

  2. I think any human being, if physically attacked, has the right to respond with proportionate force. Key word there being *proportionate*. And that’s all I’ll say on the subject.

    1. I hear you, Kevin. Proportionate response is always key. But I also think that, as distasteful as it is, human beings can get pushed too far, to the point that they lose control. I know trends in social justice circles insist we mock that notion, that anyone can push anyone to a psychological breaking point, but I disagree and while people have to be held responsible for what they do even when they are pushed too far, it’s understandable and to me not something I demonize.

      1. Agreed. And by the way, are you still planning on that review of the complete Answer Me? The more bits and pieces of Goad I read, the more interested I am (if morbidly so) in his “‘zine years.”

  3. I just got done reading Shit Magnet last week. I know it was written a while back, but I was browsing at the best used bookstore in town and came across it. I have all four copies of Answer Me, and actually exchanged a letter or two with both Jim and Debbie. Life went on and ‘zines seemed to fall by the wayside, replaced with blogs. Anyway, I blazed through the book. I love Jim’s style of writing, and understood a little bit more about what he went through. If “no good deed goes unpunished,” there is evidence in here, for sure. Jim came back, as he says, to both Debbie and Anne, and that was part of the problem. I marveled at Anne’s craziness, yet Jim did come back, admitting that after talking to her on the phone, he was very erect. Love must be a drug on par with heroin, I think. So very, very hard to break the habit.

    It was a fascinating read, to be sure. I’m re-reading it again. Maybe that makes me sick, but I want to believe that Jim and Debbie were happy for maybe just a little while. Their ‘zine gave me the courage to go ahead and publish a ‘zine of my own, and write about whatever the hell I wanted to write about. And I did. I met some cool people and some not-so-cool people. I met a guy whom I was not afraid to be with. It was platonic, but I thought we would be friends forever. A crazy incident happened, and it wasn’t meant to be. He came back to town, but he wanted nothing to do with me. Perhaps it’s just as well. We can’t bring the old days back, and it turns out we had to grow up after all.

    I wish Jim happiness and success. I’ve never really been in love, so maybe I don’t fully understand why he and Anne kept getting back together. He’d try to leave, and she’d go batshit. Maybe it just goes to show humans will put up with a LOT to feel loved by another human being. Maybe it shows just how precious and screwed up love really is.

  4. I haven’t spoken to you in over 20 years Anita but I think I know which roommate you are taking about. But just to make sure did she per chance get passout drunk at a stranger’s house, piss in his bed, and was forced to buy him a new mattress? If so you’ll be glad to know nothing has changed.. She’s still a drunk who ‘accidentally’ does dumb and mean stuff when she’s hammered.

    Anyway, blast from the past. I’m glad to see your still writing. It’s your calling and you were really good at it even back then.

    1. Wow, when I wrote this entry so many years ago I wasn’t even linking my real name to this blog. I never expected anyone would guess who I was talking about, but yeah, that’s the roommate. After reading this comment I Googled her and she seems to be doing well in her career and is still married. But you can never tell from what people put online, huh?

      I almost want to take her out of this discussion – I was not in a good place of sobriety when I wrote this, but I try to own my shit, so to speak. And she really did rob me of my ability to remain an innocent pro-liberal and her nonsense was a sign of what was to come with the ultra left. The whole stare-rape phenomenon has roots in the whole “I had sex when I was drunk so I was raped” antics of women like her. So let it stand.

      I think I know who left this comment – between the Bernard House reference the the name on the e-mail, it should be clearer but there were several people in that core group with that first name. I hope you’re doing well yourself and hopefully our mutual ex-friend is doing well enough herself.

  5. Hello! Lately I was interested in the character Jim Goad and after reading his book I researched about it and ended up falling on your site. I realized that you ignored some things mentioned by mr. Goad. You say that Ryan was a nightmare, that she did everything to keep him around, but you forgot to mention that every time when she finally left he went after her to make up. Anyone who reads the book he wrote with eyes really open, paying attention to everything he reports, can see that she could have been jealous and neurotic, but he loved to tell her about the other women he had sex with. That she might have been obsessive and subservient, but he liked to occupy the pedestal in which she put him and and he did not missed an opportunity to humiliate her. That she might have been aggressive, but every time he not only defended himself as she always left more injured, by the way, the first times they fight, when there was an aggression, he was the one who started, according to what is written in his book. You indicate that he was unable to maintain the restraining order against her, but you forgets to mention that was he who went after her so that they could ”run away” and the police could not find her. I’m not defending her, but if she was sick he always fed her sickness. I was not able to find anything about the things that you say you found about her, that scared you and made you form an opinion against her before even reading the book, if you can tell me how you found it, I would appreciate it. I am curious about Anne Ryan’s website, is it still possible to find something about it? I only have Jim Goad’s word, and with that I was able to see that their relationship was definitely bizarre and mutually abusive, that she did not take him to the limit on her own, he walked that walk happily. Even affirming that she was psychotic, violent, abusive, even claiming to dispise her, every single time he came back to her, on his own. According to his logic and many others, that are not just some women who bring violence to themselves, some men do it too. I can only presume that he liked ir, that he deserved it, he asked for it. The way you talk it seems that in the day “Goad finally lost his shit and beat the hell out of Ryan”, she was in that car because she stalked him and was ready to kill him, but you forgot to mention that she was there because he once again went after her so they could stay together again, but in the morning he changed his mind and decided to take her home, not for the goodness in his heart, but to humiliate her once more. It was not just a situation of a man taken to his limit by a very crazy and evil woman, I think there is nothing simple in all that situation, but he chose to go for that road, he chose to assault her that way, he enjoy it, for the fear in her eyes. In the end, being arrested even did good for his career. What I find curious about him is that he really feels unique, superior and brave, someone who only received shit from the world, but kept standing, he even admits to having done some bad things, but only because he was led to it, a man without much choice. The curious thing is that in fact he is very common, there are thousands of men like him who believe they have been wronged by the system, by the “cruel matriarchal world” and as mr. Goad they always forget that they generally played an important part in all this.

    1. It’s tempting to respond to each line of your reply because it’s irritating to read all the “you failed to mention” comments that were indeed covered in the entry or answer questions that were also handled in the article. I’m sensing that you saw an article that did not demonize Jim Goad and responded with a deluge of feels, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but this long reply is essentially a justification for why you think it’s okay that Anne Ryan engaged in violence, property damage and emotional manipulation because evidently when a man makes a woman unhappy she is culturally permitted to beat him, threaten to kill him, destroy his home and car, and never face a bit of legal censure. That’s bullshit if you have any feminist notions that women are subject to and protected by the same laws as men. Let’s summarize:

      –I covered how this was a toxic relationship and that both sides behaved badly. Both deserved jail time for the violence they inflicted on each other, but only one served time.

      –I covered that Jim failed to enforce his own restraining order and stupidly engaged in sex with Anne after trying to get her out of his life. Also see above: toxic relationship.

      –I find very little useful in engaging in a tit for tat recitation of who did what when and how that justifies Anne’s reactions. But I’m game, I’ll do it for the sake of this comment. As I fail to mention various things you consider important in this tale of bad romance, you failed to mention all the times Anne Ryan left messages threatening to kill Jim, when she trashed his apartment, all the various times she hit, bit and scratched him, the time she took a shovel to his car, and all the things she did to him. If you want to mention everything Jim did, mention everything Anne did. She was an adult who, like Jim, chose to stay in a relationship that featured mutual combat. If what he did excuses her, you really need to ask yourself why what she did doesn’t excuse him.

      –I explain in the article why I thought Anne was a piece of shit before I ever read Goad’s book – her manipulation of Debbie Goad, a woman she hated and whose bed she violated in her sick relationship with Debbie’s husband. When Debbie was dying of cancer and not entirely in her right mind Anne forged a very suspicious friendship with the sick woman, and posted her diary entries on the site that promoted a film called American Bar. Those entries were not indexed on the site but for a while were able to be found via Yahoo! and Google searches, which is how I found them via direct searches. Those entries were filled with deeply emotional and at times demented content that Debbie wrote in moments of extremis and are hard to read as anything but a vile invasion into a dying woman’s life.

      –I explain in the article that the site where these unindexed pages were posted is no longer extant. How can I help you find a site that no longer exists even in archive? Unindexed pages seldom get captured by the Wayback Machine. You can search for yourself and see that the American Bar movie site was associated with Sky Ryan but since you can’t read the content I read, I don’t expect you to have the same opinion. But please stifle any attempt to paint my disgust for Ryan as some sort of unmitigated prejudice against a sad domestic violence victim because what we know about Ryan now should give anyone pause about her character.

      As you mention all the mitigating factors you think exonerate Anne Ryan in the mess she ended up in with Goad, do you understand that her own mother gave statements confirming her daughter’s violent and mentally unhinged behaviors. How about the statements from her one of her ex-boyfriends, describing the nearly exact behaviors that Anne exhibited from the night Jim beat her up (among other behaviors she engaged in with a man who was not the evil, terrible Jim Goad, she refused to leave his car for over six hours, threatened suicide, then came to his home and trashed his car, down to throwing a cinderblock through the windshield). Even better, how come, in your vindication of Anne Ryan, you left out how, after Jim was sent to prison for assaulting her, she deliberately ran down a cyclist with her car and served her own prison sentence?

      The point here is not to exonerate anyone. Having tangled with cluster b women in my own life, I infinitely prefer a punch in the face to the endless cycle of personality disordered behaviors that come in the form of suicide threats, death threats, property damage, and endless phone calls at home and at work, but that is admittedly a personal preference. The fact is that both adults engaged in a relationship that became so toxic that mutual combat, death threats, violence and property damage were features, not aberrations. Anne and Jim did terrible things to each other and if Anne is to be let off the legal hook because Jim was mean, didn’t honor his own restraining order, led her on, then Jim should have been left off the hook because Anne did untold amounts of property damage and outright and repeatedly threatened to kill him, combined with her own physical violence.

      I’m a feminist. That means that when I fuck up I own my shit. I don’t ask the patriarchy that I prefer not to be subject to in the course of my daily life to protect me from the consequences of my actions. If women are to expect egalitarian treatment, we cannot wring our hands over women like Ryan, who repeatedly acted out violently against a number of different people yet got off repeatedly because she was a woman. Jim owned what he did – he stated he beat her up and dumped her out of the car and when a fan of his launched a “Free Jim Goad” website Jim disavowed it because he was guilty. Anne never owned anything. She should have gone to prison for the numerous instances of violence and property damage she engaged in before and during her time with Jim. Full stop. Whether or not Jim feels like he is a victim of a matriarchy has no bearing in that assessment. Anne provoked, she kicked, she bit, she hit, she destroyed cars, she made death threats, she stalked, she trashed homes, and somehow people still think she was a victim.

      1. Hello! I I don’t believe that the mistakes that both made are justifications for anything, nor do I claim to defend anyone and I really do not believe anyone sees Anne Ryan as a victim. You recognizes that they were both adults and that they chose and wanted to live that toxic relationship, I agree, but reading your text I had the impression that poor Jim Goad lived through this nightmare obliged. It was always his choice to stay with someone he said he despised. Why was he the only one who was arrested? he committed a crime, was reported and, honestly, because he was stupid. I just was curious that you can see Ryan as a piece of shit and not see that so is he, maybe because you bought everything he said, and you managed to identify something that I could not, but I did not buy it, and even if I had, I’d still see a manupulator, egocentric and dramatic man, who acted as an 15-year-old boy, blamed his parents, his wife, his girlfriend, and everyone else for all the wrong things in his life, he may even try to delude himself and others saying that he recounts his mistakes and is not only blaming others, just after write 100 pages doing exactly that. But you feel some kind of sympathy for him and that’s fine. In any case, those are things that happened a long time ago and neither of us lived that. Thank you for the answer. Good bye!

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