Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Executioner's Song

The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer
1980 Pulitzer Prize

Gary Gilmore was the first man executed after the US Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 11976. After committing two murders, he was sentanced to death. He then refused to appeal and demanded his sentance be carried out.

Gilmore had been defiant from a very young age. He was sent to reform schoolo at the age of 14. In 1976, after 13 years in prison, he was released and went to live with a cousin in Utah. But after so long in prison he was unable to adapt to life outside. He had a mean streak and was argumentative. He fought everyone. If he wanted beer, he's simply go into a store and take it. Finally on a quest to obtain a pick-up truck, he resorted to robbery...and murder.

"The Executioner's Song" is classified as a narrative nonfiction novel. The true story is compied from interviews from anyone who crossed paths with Gilmore in the nine months from his realease until his execution. It's a big book...1050 pages, but it's an easy read. Even with all the detail the legalities are written in layman's terms. You get a feel for the way Gilmore and his circle lived. And you understand why Gilmore would insist on his execution.

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