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Preview — While They Slept by Kathryn Harrison
While They Slept: An Inquiry into the Murder of a Family
I would have probably enjoyed this book more if the author herself had not imposed her own life story and dysfuntional family into ...more
A generation earlier, Billy's patern ...more
When she was 16 years old, subject Jody Gilley awoke when she heard her younger sister being murdered by her older brother, after he had already bludgeoned both of their parents to death.
Kathryn Harrison, in While They Slept, uses these traumatic events to draw a comparison between herself and Jody Gilley: "Both she and I had a previous self who no longer exists."
The trouble with this, of c ...more
i have a few problems with it. kathryn harrison previously wrote books on her own experiences with abuse, which i have not read and know only about from this book. in this book before telling the story of which she is supposed to be writing, she talks about herself. a lot. and it comes across that when she was 20, she met her dad, he tongue kissed her at the airport and shes been a mess ever since.
The author's insistence of bringing herself and her own history into this book drove me nuts. Why was she continually trying to compare herself to the Gilleys? Often these were forced comparisons, at best.
Reading this book is like listening to somebody speak in a monotone voice. This style could have been very effective for a book of this type, if it was done better.
This is an interesting subject a ...more
Harrison does a nice job of drawing interesting, and at times insightful, parallels and observations throughout, but also seems to be continually wresting the spotlight from the Gilley family to herself. In the first chapters we lea ...more
When he was finished, Billy Gilley came upstairs, bloody, and said to his sister: "We're free."
While They Slept is about the murder of the Gilley family by the only son, Billy. He kills his mother, father, and youngest sister, while saving his other sister so they can be "free". There is some question as to whether or not Billy wanted a relationship with his sister Jody and Harrison picks up on this quickly. ...more
Kathryn Harrison has clearly done her research. She gained the trust of both Billy and Jody, which resulted in multiple interviews and access to their personal papers. The narrative fairly buzzes with warmth and concern for the siblings. However, some critics, deeming it intrusive and pompous, took issue with Harrison's frequent habit of inserting her own painful past into the story. Others believed her suffering adds depth and authenticity to the narrative. Hailed as "a heartbreaking read" by t...more
I liked the story and I liked the research and the way the story is presented totally non sensationalized. Not up to Ann Rule by any means, but not that commercial junk food so many true crime authors stoop to as if the actual occurance isn't horrible enough.
I just don't like the author's voice. I don't like it w ...more
Well, I finished it. But I'm still not crazy about the writing itself--mannered, impenetrable at times, and just workman-like in general.
However, the narrative itself is compelling. After suffering years of physical and emotional abuse, Billy Gilley beats his parents and youngest sister to death with a baseball bat one night. Harrison examines the aftermath of this unspeakable act through the eyes of Billy and his surviving sister, Jody. Harrison is interested in the "before" and "after" version ...more
As some Goodreaders might be aware, Harrison wrote a memoir called The Kiss, about how her father sexually abused her. Wh ...more
Kathryn weaves her own personal narrative into t ...more
Kathryn Harrison explores her own troubled past in comparison with that of Jody's, whose brother killed their mom, dad and little sis. (Accounts differ on whether Jody supported the slayings, but both agree the parents were abusive, and Jody says the brother harbored more than familial affection for her.)
I don't think Harrison does the family justice in telling their tale -- it's too mixed u ...more
Basic story is that the son of the Gilley family, Billy Jr. beats his parents to death with a baseball bat. He also kills his younger sister, Becky, when she discovers him in the act. He ...more
She has also written memoirs, The Kiss and The Mother Knot, a travel memoir, The Road To Santiago, a biography, Saint Therese Of Lisieux, and a collection of personal essays, Seeking Rapture.
Ms. Harrison is a frequent reviewer for The New York Times Book Review; her essay ...more