The Executioner's Song

The Executioner's Song

Book rating: 05 Paperback

By (author) Norman Mailer, Foreword by Dave Eggers

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  • Publisher: Warner Books Inc
  • Format: Paperback | 1109 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 229mm x 64mm | 1,315g
  • Publication date: 8 May 2012
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 044658438X
  • ISBN 13: 9780446584388
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Sales rank: 97,453

Product description

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.

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Author information

Norman Mailer was born in 1923 in Long Branch, New Jersey, and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. In 1955, he was one of the co-founders of "The Village Voice." He is the author of more than thirty books, including "The Naked and the Dead"; "The Armies of the Night," for which he won a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize; "The Executioner's Song," for which he won his second Pulitzer Prize; "Harlot's Ghost"; "Oswald's Tale"; "The Gospel According to the Son," "The Castle and the Forest" and "On God." He died in 2007.

Customer reviews

By Chrissy 20 Oct 2013 5

Did I enjoy this book: That word “enjoy” again; I keep getting tripped up here. I was haunted, stunned, and perplexed by this book.

When two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Normal Mailer composes a story, it is truly a work of art. Unrestricted by any particular style or expectation, Mailer unfolds the painful, true story of convicted murderer, Gary Gilmore. He creates a multi-dimensional central character who demonstrates hope, aspirations, and love while simultaneously revealing himself to be violent, depraved, and ultimately evil.

In the book, Gilmore leaves prison after 13 years of incarceration. Early in the novel, he says, “I want a home . . . I want a family. I want to live like other people live.” But this proves too much for Gilmore as he is unable to resist his compulsion to take what he wants without regards for others. Even his profound love for Nicole Baker is perverted by his proposed suicide pact. But he does love. And people in his life love him.

The entire 1000+ page novel is convoluted, complicated, and confounding. As I believe the author intended it to be. The story is told through dialogue, letters, interviews, and court transcripts. No detail is ignored, no emotion unexplored.

Would I recommend it: Mailer claims this story was given to him in its entirety by God. It̢۪s not hard to believe this claim to be true. So I would recommend it -but to the serious reader. (Not sure how to say this without sounding snobbish.)

Will I read it again: I will not.

As reviewed by Belinda at Every Free Chance Book Reviews.