The Executioner's Song
Norman Mailer's Pulitzer Prize-winning and unforgettable classic about convicted killer Gary Gilmore now in a brand-new edition.
Arguably the greatest book from America's most heroically ambitious writer, The Executioner's Song follows the short, blighted life of Gary Gilmore who became famous after he robbed two men in 1976 and killed them in cold blood. After being tried and convicted, he immediately insisted on being executed for his crime. To do so, he fought a system that seemed intent on keeping him alive long after it had sentenced him to death. And that fight for the right to die is what made him famous.
Mailer tells not only Gilmore's story, but those of the men and women caught in the web of his life and drawn into his procession toward the firing squad. All with implacable authority, steely compassion, and a restraint that evokes the parched landscape and stern theology of Gilmore's Utah. The Executioner's Song is a trip down the wrong side of the tracks to the deepest source of American loneliness and violence. It is a towering achievement-impossible to put down, impossible to forget.
The executioners song
He only killed two people. How horrible and heartbreaking this was for the two men murdered and their families. Could this have been prevented. I read this book right after it first came out years ago and I’ve just read it again. I had no pity for Gilmore or his silly girlfriend.
A Bargain at This Price by Jennapher Hague
Mailer's grasp so often eluded his reach, yet he never stopped reaching further and higher. Sometimes he succeeded, more often he failed. He always carried the the burden of having written his most compelling novel on his first attempt, The Naked and the Dead, a book that remains a classic, if not the classic American war novel.
But in the Executioner's Song affirms Mailer's undeniable greatness. You will may start reading this book with a preconceived notion of who Gary Gilmore was, and what happened to cause the state of Utah to execute him, and his decision to demand this punishment be carried out.
When you are through, you will be amazed, repulsed, confused and perhaps angry.
But you will know that you have read one of the greatest true-crime stories ever written.
It can never surpass Capote's masterpiece, as In Cold Blood remains one of the most brilliant and unique books in American letters.
But The Executioner's Song can only rank just slightly behind Capote's classic.
If you read only on Mailer book, make it this one, you will not be disappointed.
If you continue to ask yourself the "why" about Gilmore's life and death, seek out Mikal Gilmore's memoir A Shot Through the Heart. Mikal is Gary's youngest brother, and his recollections of their childhood and family life will leave you even more amazed, repulsed confused and angry.
But Gary Gilmore's life and death has a resonance that far exceeds his troubled life, cold-blooded remorseless crimes, and final iconic execution.
An exercise in depiction
Gary Gilmore was a real man who killed two real men and paid the ultimate price for his actions. What Mailer labors over here is an exercise in painting a portrait of a murderer with no moral compass. We learn about Gilmore, but not about why he murdered. Readers should be prepared to come to many of their own conclusions about the subject. Mailer has presented the man, now we must decide his intentions.This prize winner is worth every minute of your time.