This book is massive. As it has 1,056 pages, it is both massive in an encyclopedic and weight sense. I suspect some would bog down, not finish it, andThis book is massive. As it has 1,056 pages, it is both massive in an encyclopedic and weight sense. I suspect some would bog down, not finish it, and more usefully make a door stop or booster chair out of it. It’s also massive in more important historical ways. The Executioner’s Song is the true story of Gary Gilmore, who spent most of his life in prison and was finally executed in 1977. The book starts with Gilmore’s parole and his attempt to reconnect with his guarded family in Utah. The reader follows as he tries to reestablish himself in a society that makes no sense to him. He is hopeless in so many ways that one would feel sorry for him if he wasn’t such an asshole. Norman Mailer portrays Gilmore as a man that makes short sighted and shabby efforts to live a normal life but is offset and eventually betrayed by his inability to understand denial. Despite being intelligent and articulate, he lacks qualities that seem to be innate to most, in that he has no understanding of his relationship to others and the consequences his behavior produces. He is selfish and egocentric to the core producing an evil aspect that Mailer expertly portrays.
A passage about Gary Gilmore and his tormented girlfriend, Nicole Baker. With her eyes closed, she had the odd feeling of an evil presence near her that came from Gary. She found it kind of half agreeable. Said to herself, Well, if he is the devil, maybe I want to get closer. It wasn’t a terrifying sensation so much as a strong and strange feeling, like Gary was a magnet and had brought down a lot of spirits on himself. Midway though the book, Gilmore murders two innocent people, is arrested and sent back to prison. Eventually convicted of the crimes, Gilmore gets caught up in moral and philosophical battles from opposing sides of the legal spectrum. He becomes a media sensation as he fights for his right to die, because at the time of the murders there was no death penalty in the U.S. Gilmore fights judges, governors, Mormons, publishing agents, journalists, and lawyers in a postmodern media circus for his chance to become the first man killed in America’s newly reinstated death penalty. He serves as the ‘executioner.'
An interview between Gilmore and a journalist. Interviewer: Your I.Q.’s supposedly about 130, and yet you’ve spent almost 19 of the past 22 years behind bars. Why were you never able to get away with anything? Gilmore: I got away with a couple of things. I ain’t a great thief. I’m impulsive. Don’t plan, don’t think. You don’t have to be a superintelligent to get away with shit, you just have to think. But I don’t. I’m impatient. Not greedy enough. I could have gotten away with lots of things that I got caught for. I don’t, ah, really understand it. Maybe I quit caring a long time ago. What’s amazing to me is that a novel came out of all this. One that won its author the Pulitzer Prize for the second time. Mailer is one of the originators of, ‘The New Journalism' which is a way to tell a factual story in a fictive structure. Mailer assembled this book over the course of two years by sifting through interviews, court transcripts, newspapers, and interviewing almost all of the people involved himself. The story is a solid read in that it gives the reader a true sense and honest portrait of the characters involved as well as the period. Mailer has an invisible style that never intrudes into the narrative with his opinion, but rather populates the multifaceted landscape of an American tale with this unique document. ...more