The Executioner's Song

The Executioner s Song In what is arguably his greatest book America s most heroically ambitious writer follows the short blighted career of Gary Gil an intractably violent product of America s prisons who became notorio

In what is arguably his greatest book, America s most heroically ambitious writer follows the short, blighted career of Gary Gil, an intractably violent product of America s prisons who became notorious for two reasons first, for robbing two men in 1976, then killing them in cold blood and, second, after being tried and convicted, for insisting on dying for his crimeIn what is arguably his greatest book, America s most heroically ambitious writer follows the short, blighted career of Gary Gil, an intractably violent product of America s prisons who became notorious for two reasons first, for robbing two men in 1976, then killing them in cold blood and, second, after being tried and convicted, for insisting on dying for his crime To do so, he had to fight a system that seemed paradoxically intent on keeping him alive long after it had sentenced him to death.Norman Mailer tells Gil s story and those of the men and women caught up in his procession toward the firing squad with implacable authority, steely compassion, and a restraint that evokes the parched landscapes and stern theology of Gil s Utah The Executioner s Song is a trip down the wrong side of the tracks to the deepest sources of American loneliness and violence It is a towering achievement impossible to put down, impossible to forget.Winner of the 1980 Pulitzer Prize

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The Executioner's Song

  1. Norman Kingsley Mailer was an American novelist, journalist, essayist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, and film director.Along with Truman Capote, Joan Didion, and Tom Wolfe, Mailer is considered an innovator of creative nonfiction, a genre sometimes called New Journalism, but which covers the essay to the nonfiction novel He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize twice and the National Book Award once In 1955, Mailer, together with Ed Fancher and Dan Wolf, first published The Village Voice, which began as an arts and politics oriented weekly newspaper initially distributed in Greenwich Village In 2005, he won the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from The National Book Foundation.

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  1. This book is something Yup, it surely is The Executioner s Song is one of those oxymoronically named non fiction novels In a non fiction novel the classic of the genre being Truman Capote s In Cold Blood a journalist takes his research as far as humanly possible, right up to the boundary of unknown human thought, and then fills those gaps with reasoned speculation It s kind of shady Well, it s really shady, especially since it s never clear what is hard fact and what is guesswork Shadiness aside [...]

  2. I never got round to reviewing this mighty five star masterpiece before because I thought it spoke for itself But I just reread one long chapter and was again knocked out, it s just beautiful stuff Not having read anything else by stormin Norman except his dubious, lubricious biography of Marilyn Monroe I liked it but the pictures were better, I mean to say, he had about 8 wives himself and he was moaning out loud that he d never married Marilyn, really it was a bit gross I had thought he was on [...]

  3. Gary Gil s died in photographs are black and white They are all mugshots Gray faced still if they were to be in color mug shots of crimes of who knows what Living or dead Gray smirks and flat lines and nothing reaching the eyes because they are always somewhere else Some live to get to heaven and another hopes it won t be as bad the next go around Crimes to be and crimes of the soul The photograph captions might say, We always knew he d be up to no good The inside caption says, I don t know what [...]

  4. There is a TED talk by Bryan Stevenson, about racial and class injustice in the prison system, that asks what I have come to realize is the hardest and most important question about capital punishment It is not does a guilty criminal deserve to die but does the state have a right to kill This is a basic and obvious question, but it seems to take a backseat to the first question in discussions about the death penalty The argument over capital punishment is as much or gut driven as it is reasoned [...]

  5. Long read 1,050 pages of history about the life and death of an American that was executed by firing squad in 1977 in Utah This is Norman Mailer s answer to Truman Capote s In Cold Blood that was published in 1969 and started a new literary classification called non fiction novels.I read this with a lawyer as a reading buddy We spent 14 days 1 day per part Here is the discussion thread containing our daily thoughts Sorry if some of the phrases are in Filipino.Gary Mark Gil 1940 1977 had spent ha [...]

  6. I can t resist the deliciously apparent metaphor provided by the circumstance that it took me pretty much exactly from Christmas to Easter to read this epic, 1100 page book about the life and death of Gary Gil 1100 pages I ve only read one longer book in my life, The Glass Bead Game, which was so good it took less than a week to read Obviously, this book wasn t in the same league.But it was much better than expected, since I d otherwise been nursing a nascent hatred of Mailer initially spawned b [...]

  7. GARY MARK GILLMORE IS DEADThis book is a faboulas account of Gary Mark Gill and those who shaped his life Gary was a thief from the beginning and served over half his life in prison Coming out of prison as a thirtyfive year old man, not knowing how to work, cary on relationships, or do any of the day to day tasks we all face, Gary kills two people This decision gets him the firing squad in Utah While he is on death row many family members and lawers as well as the press are trying to stay the ex [...]

  8. D elatova pesma je na tankoj granici izme u romana i onog to se kod nas zove dokumentarna proza Utoliko verovatno nije ba najreprezentativniji primer Majlerovog stvarno ne mogu da prelazim na Mejler dok me ne nateraju stila Ali jeste zanimljiva i na svoj na in kvalitetna knjiga Hiljadu i sto strana deluje kao malo previ e za poslednjih godinu dana u ivotu sitnog kriminalca, ali ovo je zapravo vrlo detaljan prikaz dva odre ena segmenta ameri kog dru tva s kraja sedamdesetih u pitanju su s jedne s [...]

  9. I should start out by admitting that I m wary of inordinately long books I decided that this, my first Mailer, had a reputation such that I would give it a shot Then, a few days ago, a sensation akin to exasperation and or fatigue set in which I don t think related to the quality of Mailer s prose I was on page 802, and had a moment of terrifying clarity in which it became real for me that I still had another 250 pages to go Thereafter, I started to find it difficult to maintain the proper persp [...]

  10. Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography cclapcenter I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP it is not being reprinted illegally The CCLaP 100 In which I read for the first time a hundred so called literary classics, then write reports on whether or not they deserve the labelEssay 52 The Executioner s Song 1980 , by Norman MailerThe story in a nutshell One of the last great hurrahs from the so called New Journalism of the countercultural year [...]

  11. Top Five Executioner s Songs5 Bodies, Drowning Pool4 Heads Will Roll, Yeah Yeah Yeahs3 How I Could Just Kill a Man, Cypress Hill2 Party Rock, LMFAO1 The Lord High Executioner s Song, The Mikado, Gilbert SullivanProblem is that this is not just 1100 pages of a dude in a black hood doing the watusi to LMFAO Look, I get what Mailer s doing here He s using the case of murderer Gary Gil to raise big questions about good and evil and free will, and it s a smart thing to do and he does a good job But t [...]

  12. In the Summer of 1976, Max Jensen had been married one year He had just finished his first year of law school He managed to get a job working nights at a gas station in Utah One night, Gary Gil pulled in and put a gun to Jensen s head He took what money was on hand Then Gil said This one s for me and shot Jensen in the head.It the Summer of 1977 I had been married one year I had just finished my first year of law school and, not being well connected, managed to get a job working nights at a secl [...]

  13. I won t rate this, because I only got about a hundred pages I couldn t make it any further, though I disliked the writing style intensely.

  14. This book is a total slog The description calls it meticulous I call it boring It kind of lands in gray area between fiction and non fiction, and it s pretty obvious that neither Mailer nor Schiller the principal researcher journalist producer opportunist actually did a face to face interview with Gil.As a subject, Gil just isn t that interesting One of the journalists suggests that Gil is mediocrity enlarged by history, and that pretty much sums it up He was a mediocre criminal and an awful hum [...]

  15. Holy shit I picked this off the shelf after a trip to SLC Knew Utah was related Didn t know I d devour 1000 pages so fast I think this should be required reading in the US of A As a lover of Vollmann, and unfamiliar with any of Mailer s novels or longer works, I now compare his non judgemental style and pathos to WTV, only he writes in a manner any one who made it to HS could understand I dunno Gonna be foisting this fucker on many people in the near future I seriously got a near wrist sprain fr [...]

  16. It is the end of a year marked by poverty, isolation, an inability to raise funds to continue studying Linguistics at Brooklyn College, and abortive attempt at academia in Asshole, Pennsylvania, and nothing to look forward to but the prospects of snagging a paralegal degree while one by one copyrighting my manuscripts, wishing I was elsewhere, staring at my books in a cramped room which an Okcupid Why must this Cupid merely be OK date recently pointed out there was a hole in the wall and a spide [...]

  17. In the Executioner s Song, Norman Mailer chronicles the life of Gary Gil a man responsible for murdering two people in Utah in 1976 The book takes a particular interest in the events surrounding the murders, trial and execution of Gary Gil and follows the lives of people who have come into contact with him.The first part of the book leading to the murders is engaging whereas the second part is dull as it provides lengthy accounts of secondary characters that are irrelevant to the story of Gil Ma [...]

  18. The law, and the randomness of it, geographically and demographically, has always disturbed me Additionally, the comingling of it from disparate precedents only exacerbates it, and the courtroom turns itself into a Wheel of Fortune Money is made by layering one brick of precepts on top of another What you end up with is an expensive wall without doors, made poorly and soon to crumble There is a way out but only for the officers of jurisprudence and their fraternity If you want to leave with them [...]

  19. I had this book on my list as must read classic I don t know where that came from It was one of the most boring books I ever read I cannot believe I ploughed through 1,000 pages of excrutiatingly detailed narration of the true crimes, trial and execution of Gary Gil I didn t give anything away it s on the book jacket After reading how each person dressed, how they were raised even the minor players whose names you can forget right afterwards , their exact words in every exact circumstance, the t [...]

  20. I m not a big aficionado of criminal chronicles And even such scrupulous and voluminous analysis of crime as The Executioner s Song didn t really move me deeply He was ready to argue there was no rational way you could justify the death penalty, except to admit it was absolute revenge If that, he would say, was the foundation of the criminal justice system, then we had a pretty sick system All those thieves, robbers, rapists, murderers do their obnoxious crimes and when caught they declare that [...]

  21. Mailer dug into the world of Gary Gil and it s a none to happy place He must have had just a plethora of access to this guy This is Mailer s attempt to do the Capote non fiction as narrative and he pulls it off As stark and alarming as In Cold Blood is, Mailer s gift for the English language, his attention to detail, the length of the novel it s a long one and the subject matter make Executioner s Song the classic of the this genre.

  22. Boy was this a read, up there with prairyerth on shoe size i felt if i didn t finish this extended case history of one man s journey through the court, parole and prison systems of america then mailer was going to punch my ears once gil does the double deed and ends up in the pokey the yarn stretches a bit thin much like THE ONION FIELD with court details that start to veer into true crime territory What keeps it interesting from start to finish is the relationship between Gary Gil and the quite [...]

  23. I m working on this thing where I m going to stop feeling guilty for getting bored with books and I m going to abandon them with well, reckless abandon The thing is, this is not a boring book, not at all But as can happen with books that are nearly as long as the Old Testament, when I lose my momentum, it can be hard to jump back in That s what happened here A few thoughts from my reading of the first 333 pages, though Straight from my Google Drafts folder where I was keeping notes for what I im [...]

  24. Much of an ambitious book than I realized when I began it Was an engrossing tale of a man released from prison, his inability to deal with the outside world and his surprising successes and shocking downfall But the book goes on as an expose of media frenzy, the legal system, the judicial and correctional systems and American pop culture of the 1970s.I also think Mailer wrote so well that there were revelations about America in the 70s he may not have realized he was preserving For one, I enjoy [...]

  25. What you suspect is wrong with the true crime two pounder The Executioner s Song by Norman Mailer is confirmed when you watch the movie adaptation The purposely visible fingerprints of the Lawrence Schiller, the man who worked his ass off to turn the unprecedented story of a killer sentenced to death into a made for TV movie.Gary Gil had spent most of his life incarcerated by the mid 1970s when he was released from prison and into the hands of his once adoring cousin Brenda in Utah She sets him [...]

  26. I can t remember a book I ve read that evoked so many emotions and thoughts This is clearly one of the finest novels of its type and, perhaps, one of the finest novels of any genre A masterpiece.

  27. Original post here.My preferred genre is fiction, and I hardly ever touch non fiction books unless it is absolutely necessary read for work or for reference purposes So it s a first time for me to pick up a non fiction book just for the sheer pleasure of it I buddy read this book with Kuya Doni, the senior book club moderator, for exactly 14 days The Executioner s Song is the true account of the life, conviction and eventually, execution of Gary Mark Gil, a 30 something convicted felon with an i [...]

  28. It has been years since I read Norman Mailer s book The Naked and The Dead , an outstanding novel of World War II and a difficult act to follow I ve started some of his other books but never really got into them He s had a couple published recently, book Harlot s Ghost and book Oswald s Tale , that have been reviewed quite generously, so I thought it might be time to take another look In 1979, he published The Executioner s Song That book piqued my interest because it ostensibly dealt with crimi [...]

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