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.