Jim wrote Shit Magnet while in prison. He details the day-to-day surroundings, the other inmates, the seating organization in the cafeteria and his cell. He says, “Every prison sentence is a death sentence.”
Jim rails about the unfairness of it all. He wonders why all this bad stuff happens to him, and while I understand bad stuff happening, maybe he didn't think about these things:
If you create—and writing is creative, you are bound to piss someone off.
If you try to be honest, you will piss people off.
If you point out truths, you will piss people off.
If you are an abused guy, and you want to go to NYU, and your parents say no, and you channel your rage into writing, you will piss people off.
If enough people would have purchased Hitler's paintings, maybe he wouldn't have been seen as a bad guy, because he might have become a successful artist and not a murderer of millions.
I'm not comparing Jim Goad to Hitler, but I'm showing how powerful a human can be if things don't go his or her way. The rage gets channeled elsewhere. Sometimes into a sport, a hobby, or the arts. So maybe Jim was always destined to be a shit magnet. Who knows?
What astounds me is that Jim kept going back, and back, and back. Because he was afraid of being alone? Because he wanted to get laid? Because being with Anne fueled his adrenaline?
Jim would probably hate me for saying this, but his reasons for going back to Anne don't really sound that much different as to why women return to their abusers. For him, it wasn't economic stability. I THINK Jim was working at this time, or else making enough money off his writing to survive. For women, it's not always like that. Jim returned because of the simple fact that he is human. Not perfect. Needy. Weak. Exactly the same reasons he hates women. Oh, excuse me. Maybe not ALL women, but certain women. If you're fat and unattractive, stay the fuck away from Jim Goad. Also, if you are a feminist, steer clear. If you're all three, don't be in the same state that he's in.
I've had a rocky relationship with men in my life. I've been picked on, abused (verbally, physically, and sexually) and I honestly don't know what I did to bring it on. I've had people tell me I'm too nice. So maybe that's it. But if I become a complete bitch, will that turn my life around? I don't want to be phony, don't want to put on an act, but I don't appreciate men putting me down, treating me like shit, and then, when I say, “don't treat me like that,” have them become indifferent, or worse, “that Gloria has become a complete bitch.” I'm lovable when I let people treat me like a doormat, but over the last few years, I've stood up for myself, and lost a few “friends.” I'm not currently looking for a boyfriend because I'll never get the kind of guy I want. So instead of settling, I prefer to be alone. I have friends offer to set me up from time to time, but sometimes I wonder if these people REALLY know me. I've had a friend offer to set me up with a guy who drinks too much. And I should go out with him because...? Well, he's single and I'm single. Isn't that the only requirement?
I've always wondered why the asshole men always get the women, and ALWAYS end up having kids. I guess it's nature's fucked up way of continuing the human race.
Ironically, Jim ends up taking pictures of himself when he gets beat up (just like Anne and Debbie did) and also sounds just a bit like the women victims of abuse he so despises. What gets me is that he keeps going back to his abuser...like so many women victims have.
In one of the last chapters of the book, he presents himself to a jury in a courtroom and wonders why shit keeps happening to him if he's such a nice guy. The jury sentences him to “death.” And in the final chapter, “Death: Yours and Mine,” Jim recommends that “you burn as bright and hot as you can, because they're coming to snuff you.” After finishing this book, I'm sure the “they” that Jim is referring to (in his case) are those horrible, fat, lesbian feminist dykes who want to string him up.
Years ago, I wasn't afraid to write to Jim and Debbie, because I felt I identified with them, up to a certain point. Now Debbie is dead, and I'm not sure how I feel about Jim Goad now. I love his writing. After reading Shit Magnet, I hunted down one of my copies of Answer Me! The First Three, which was missing a cover and a few back pages. I read it again, and tried to imagine Jim and Debbie in happier times, writing whatever they wanted to write, the two of them against the world. I think I even talked to Debbie once on the phone. I know I got a letter from Jim. But I wonder what would happen if I communicated with Jim now. I'm not a lesbian, but I'm certainly fat, and if being a feminist means making my own way in the world, and wanting not to be treated like shit by men, then yeah, call me a feminist. I might not be one if men had been a little nicer to me. Perhaps I'm a bit of a shit magnet of my own. I'm trying to understand Jim a little bit better. He's had bad luck with women. I've had bad luck with men. Maybe there aren't any other answers than that.
Jim is married now, with a son. I hope he's happy, but I'm also a bit disappointed. When he was with Debbie, they both vowed not to have kids. Did Jim change his mind, or did his wife do it for him? We can thank whatever God we believe in for that. Imagine if he'd had a daughter. The fact that she's female would have branded her the enemy. In an interview I read online, Jim refers to “the female problem.” Here's the problem Jim: if you get rid of women, pretty soon you won't have any more new men come along. You NEED women to produce more men. Hopefully, Jim has mellowed out and won't repeat the same mistakes that his father and mother made with him. Having said that, Shit Magnet is a book you're not going to forget. You might think it's whiny, you might think it's a stunning work about one man's life and how he ended up in prison because he didn't want to be abused anymore. So he beat up a woman as hard as he could. Goad makes some harsh observations on gender, prison, justice, the legal system and the world. Read and learn from his mistakes. Time will tell if Jim has.