[PDF/EBOOK] The Executioner's Song AUTHOR Norman Mailer

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Ttle with the authorities for the right to do so made him into a world wide celebrity and ensured that his execution turned into the most gruesome media event of the decade. Finished after three years and three copies Totally worth the thousand pages of time even with all the gaps and hassle

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The Executioner's Song

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ANDREW O'HAGANIn the summer of 1976 Gary Gil robbed two men Then he shot them in cold blood For those murders Gil was sent to languish on Death Row. Now the doctor was beside him pinning a white circle on Gary Gil s black shirt and the doctor stepped back Father Meersman traced the big sign of the cross the last act he had to perform Then he too stepped over the line and turned around and looked back at the hooded figure in the chair The phone began to ring Norman Mailer The Executioner s Song 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 a dance along an ethical borderline Well it s really shady especially since it s never clear what is hard fact and what is guesswork Shadiness aside this type of book is also hugely entertaining The Executioner s Song tells the story of Gary Mark Gil a lowlife thug who d spent over half his life in prison before ruthlessly murdering two men while on parole Instead of fighting his conviction on appeal Gil forced the State of Utah s hand essentially daring them to execute him Coming on the heels of the US Supreme Court s moratorium on the death penalty Gil was the first person executed in the country for 10 years That s the story in a nutshell but there s nothing about The Executioner s Song that is nutshell worthy To begin with it s written by Norman Mailer In fact that might be the most important thing about The Executioner s Song the Norman Mailer ness of it all If you don t believe me just look at the front cover a small picture of a gas station where one of the murders occurred the title of the book in small print and then the author s name NORMAN MAILER in huge font dominating the negative space I wasn t yet born while Mailer was in his prime and he was dead before I read his first book but I ve read enough of his work and read enough about him to understand that Mailer made himself the foremost character of everything he wrote He does this in The Executioner s Song by the simple fact that he wrote a 1000 page book about Gary Gil One thousand pages about a pseudo folk hero who never did a redeemable thing in his life He may have had a genius level I and a talent for drawing but he was unexceptional in every other way Even his crimes were garden variety two cold blooded murders of young white men that occurred while in the course of botched robberies Tragic yes but not shocking or out of the ordinary at least not in America Moreover despite what the publisher s copy would have you believe Gary Gil didn t fight for his right to die Instead he sat on his sociopathic ass while the State of Utah battled the ACLU over the date of his execution and his own lawyers battled over who would get paid for the rights to his stories In short there s not a lot of story So what does Mailer do he writes this monster a white trash epic a hillbilly Crime and Punishment It s unlike anything I ve ever read It is unforgettable You realize you re reading something uniue as soon as you get to the first page The book you see is written in bite sized paragraphs that are separated by double spaces At first this is kind of obnoxious and a little pretentious Then you realize it s sort of awesome Each of these lonely word chunks represents its own contained thought and as you move from one thought to the next you get into a kind of rhythm that is both engaging and oddly poetic I have no idea how Mailer sustained this style for so long but he does Mailer s greatest achievement is his voice The book is seemingly written in the third person but it actually shifts subtly to the point of view of the subject of each paragraph It s almost as if these characters are telling their own story with their own constricted lexicon Mailer restrains himself from using fancy words or elegant descriptions or complex sentences Everything is simple hard flat and collouial the way that Gary or his girlfriend Nicole might tell a story Most of the time at least There are a few phrases that seem a bit too cuteWhile on the topic of restraint it should be mentioned that Mailer has attempted to do the hardest of things create a work without judgment This is both an asset and eventually a liability Mailer simply tells the story this happened then this then this It s almost like he s acting as a conduit rather than an author He adds no commentary to the actions of his central characters For a reader accustomed to being told how to feel this might feel odd and a little disorienting For instance there are dozens of scenes of Gary a pathetic conman fruitlessly trying to bend people to his will Instead of noting how Gary was acting like a low rent Jedi with his silly mind tricks Mailer remains silent This reticence is especially true with Nicole who is actually the central character of the book Nicole Barrett was first married at the age of 14 and in subseuent years and through subseuent marriages and two children she slept with dozens and dozens of men women and children sadly I am not exaggerating She is constantly saying how much she loves Gary even while sleeping with her ex husband and a stranger she meets at a bar and a random hitchhiker The natural inclination of an author is to note the incongruity in her thoughts faithful love and actions sex with any sentient beings in her path Mailer resists this urge and the resulting portrait with all its inherent and human contradictions is all the richer Since Mailer hides his own thoughts the reader must balance Nicole s victimhood she was sexually abused as a child and also married at fourteen with her own consistently poor choices and subpar parenting Of course it s impossible to write entirely without judgment Mailer s conclusions come from his elisions His focus is on Gil and Nicole their love affair Gil s incarceration and finally Gil s death What is missing is the crime and its victims Mailer devotes perhaps 12 pages to the family of Max Jensen the first victim and half of that to Ben Bushnell the second The crimes themselves are told in a couple sentences the shootings are bloodless vaguely detailed affairs which stand in contrast to the graphic retellings of just about every other incident in the story This is simply unacceptable for a book that spends hundreds of pages following peripheral characters In the most egregious example Mailer spends half a chapter following the day in the life of one of Nicole s former lovers Mailer seems to relish the opportunity to describe this man having sexual intercourse with a fifteen year old girl right down to their exact positions hint 70 1 literary statutory rape After this sordid event this man disappears from the book Yet for all that Mailer can t be bothered to flesh out the lives of the victims or their wives or even describe the violent acts that put Gil in jail Unnecessary detail is the lifeblood of The Executioner s Song In the first half of the book which starts with Gil s release from prison follows him through his destructive courtship of Nicole and ends with him in the clink these digressions are mostly forgivable In the second half however frustration sets in This is mostly due to the fact that Mailer decides to follow every twist and turn of producer Lawrence Schiller as he tries to secure the book and movie rights to Gil s life story One starts to wonder why Mailer would decide to make a leech such a central character Then you read the copyrights page and the acknowledgments and you realize that Mailer got most of his research material from Schiller At this point you see these sections of The Executioner s Song in a whole new and utterly unflattering light One of the mysteries of The Executioner s Song is the extent of Mailer s involvement We all know that Capote famously went to Kansas spent time with the people of Holcombe and interviewed killer Perry Smith There is no indication that Mailer did anything similar Most of the research appears to have been done by Schiller and by Gil s two attorneys who spent hours interviewing Gil for Schiller instead of fulfilling their ethical obligations as lawyers This is only really a problem with regards to Gil While Nicole s life story is told front to back in great detail Gil the putative focus remains elusive Mailer s portrait of Gil is pointillist it doesn t come from him but from the words and observations of all these different people who came into his orbit You tend to lose a lot of information in that space between the points Mailer compounds this problem by refusing to supply any basic biographical information It s not until deep into the book that you learn why Gil was in jail in the first place armed robbery apparently I still enjoyed this book despite these problems I couldn t help but admire the audaciousness the narrative voice and the amount of effort that must have been reuired to put this story together Throughout it had me uestioning my own beliefs my own perceptions Who were the victims Who were the perpetrators Was justice served or did the justice system fail Mailer s refusal to give you any overt guidance draws those internal uestions into sharp relief Gil was shot through the heart four times on January 17 1977 At the risk of injecting politics into Goodreads I cannot resist a parting thought How can anyone think it was a good idea to execute Gary Gil The scenes at the end of The Executioner s Song show Utah s Attorney General and the Warden of the Utah State Prison at Point of the Mountain racing against the clock to kill Gil before the US Supreme Court can intervene To what end were these men acting Would it have killed them pardon the pun to wait for the Supreme Court to rule on the Stay of Execution Does it really ennoble justice to be racing down courthouse hallways trailing sheaths of paper in your wake to call the prison and set the machinery of death in motion Were these men or wolves I can accept because it is the law that the Government can take a life I cannot accept that it will do so with unconstrained eagerness More than that did anyone in 1977 stop to think Why are we doing exactly what Gary Mark Gil wants us to do I remember the first time I visited a client in prison He was being released and I wanted to check in with him to make sure he registered with certain governmental agencies This was the first time I d ever been in a prison And by prison I mean the penitentiary not the county lock up where defendants are held pending trial or to serve sentences of less than a year and which I visited on a weekly basis The prison sat on the edge of town on a flat stretch of prairie with bluffs in the distance It had chain link fences and razor wire and towers and guards It wasn t Marion or Florence but it sure wasn t Six Flags either To get in I showed my ID registered and locked all my belongings in a locker Then I went through one set of locked doors then another then another and another After that I was escorted outside to another building another set of doors When the visit was over after 20 minutes I wanted to leave but I couldn t since there was still an hour left in the visitation block So I had to wait with all these cons and their families who could sit close but not touch and who were watched by guards and cameras and who were chided when they got too near Imagine that kind of hell to see but not touch the people you love In that time I felt the walls close in Anyone who says prison isn t punishment has never been to prison It sucks When I left I sat in the parking lot for ten minutes gulping free air Everything about prison is regimented and lock step You wake when they tell you you sleep when they tell you you eat when they tell you and stop eating when they tell you you go outside when they tell you and come back in when they tell you You re always watched by guards and by cameras Some lights never go off There is always noise Gil hated the noise doors opening and banging shut guards yelling commands other convicts talking and threatening and acting out There are wags who will tell you it s nothing but laying around all day watching television or reading Right Except try doing that surrounded by several hundred felons all of whom will con you some of whom will rape you or beat you or kill you try watching the boob tube while sitting on molded chairs with an armed robber to your left and an attempted murderer to your right try getting through a single page of a book with all that clanging and hollering Gary Gil didn t want to die because he felt remorse He was unable to feel remorse because he was a sociopath He wanted to die because it was preferable to prison Fundamentally Gary Gil was a coward He was scared of prison He d spent a lot of time behind bars and his great fear was waiting out the remainder of his life in a place without hope More than that he d worked himself into such a state over Nicole whose breakup with him precipitated his killing spree that he didn t want to live with the thought of her sleeping with other men Essentially Gil was attempting state assisted suicide And the State agreed Wholeheartedly How is it punishment when you give the prisoner exactly what he wants If Gary Gil had not been executed he would be 70 years old right now He would have had to endure 33 years of short plain meals 33 years of brief outdoor trips to the yard 33 years of clanging doors shouting guards lockdowns and prisoner counts 33 years to think about the life he d never lead 33 years to miss all the technological advances 33 years to think about the women with whom he d never sleep 33 years to miss Nicole If justice is possible I think it looks something like that Instead the bloodlust of Utah s body politic and the cowardice of Gary Mark Gil conspired to stage a violent farce Utah gave up a bit of its soul and Gary Gil managed to escape

Norman Mailer ↠ 0 DOWNLOAD

And could confidently expect his sentence to be commuted to life imprisonment In America no one had been executed for ten yearsBut Gary Gil wanted to die and his ensuing ba. Long read 1050 pages of history about the life and death of an American that was executed by firing suad 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 novelsI 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 FilipinoGary Mark Gil 1940 1977 had spent half of his life in jail when he was paroled crime robbery in 1976 at the age of 36 He tried all sort of jobs while living with his uncle Vern Domico However as his cousin Brenda commented when Gil encountered all sorts of many problems while working he was locked up when he was supposed to be learning about how to earn a decent living So the disillusioned Gil confused on how to live outside the prison turned to booze drugs and ways illegal as they were he knew on how to escape from the reality of a bigger prison called life He fell in love with an 18 yo sexy teenager Nicole and the love turned to obsession When Nicole left him Gil killed Nicole s new boyfriend then afterwards on the same night killed a man he had not even met before This somehow summarizes the first half of the book I liked the story because of its readability its call for a reform in the US penal laws in fact according to Wiki this case triggered a nationwide debate on death penalty upon this book s release and Mailer s crystal clear and emphatic characterizations Had the book ended here it would have gotten 4 stars from meThe second half of the book is not as effective as the first half It tells basically the aftermath of Gil s conviction death A big part of this second half is spent on negotiations for the film right to turn Gil s life into a movie the repeated appeal the Stay resulting to several postponements of the execution and the eternal love between Gary Gil and Nicole that reminded me of Romeo and Juliet because at one point they both took drugs as they attempted a double suicide Aside from the last one and Gil s interactions with his family his mother Bessie and his youngest brother Mikal half of the book is utterly boring Not only it is anti climactic but it is too detailed on things that I am not interesting for me My interest only got up again when Gil was finally killed but that was only discussed in the last two parts and they were not able to bring back the emotional impact that this book was able to do in its first halfOverall a good book to know how the legal criminal system in the US worked in the 70s Compared to our here in the Philippines my reading buddy explained to me that they have a jury system there and the judge s role is just that of a facilitator There is also this legal procedure called Next Friend She also refresh my mind on the meaning of Writs of Mandamus and Certiorari Two writs that were repeatedly mentioned in the second halfPrior to this book I used to be unaffected whenever I heard people getting death penalty Example was when Leo Echagaray 1960 1999 was executed by lethal injection here in the Philippines after 23 years that the death penalty was removed from the Philippine law When he was executed I told myself What kind of father is he He raped his own daughter so he deserves death It s was very easy for me to say thatNow I would not be very uick to say so Just like Truman Capote s In Cold Blood this book is also an eye opener


10 thoughts on “The Executioner's Song

  1. says:

    “Now the doctor was beside him pinning a white circle on Gary Gil’s black shirt and the doctor stepped back Father Meersman traced the big sign of the cross the last act he had to perform Then he too stepped over the line and turned around and looked back at the hooded figure in the chair The phone began to ring” Norman Mailer The Executioner’s Song This book is something Yup it surely is The Executioner's Song is one of those ox

  2. says:

    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 m

  3. says:

    I promise to write something longer but I am truly dismayed by this book for many reasons1 the Mountain West redneck behavior of Gary Nicole and all the other Mormon losers in the book as well as the cynical with crocodile teary eyes behavior of Schiller and the press made me physically ill and I don't feel it truly bothered Mailer at all I h

  4. says:

    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

  5. says:

    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 uestion 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 uestion but it seems to take a backseat to the first uestion in discussions about the death penalty The argument ov

  6. says:

    Long read 1050 pages of history about the life and death of an American that was executed by firing suad 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 novelsI read this with a lawyer as a reading budd

  7. says:

    Finished after three years and three copies Totally worth the thousand pages of time even with all the gaps and hassle

  8. says:

    What a book Mind numbingly good An intellectual grand slam

  9. says:

    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 suad in Utah While he is on death row many family members and la

  10. says:

    This is a good book but it's even better if you're from the area where it takes place I still have family in Spanish Fork Utah where Nicole and Gary lived and have had cousins who were and odds are will be again inmates at the prison in Point of the Mountain where Gary was executed in 1978 Even now I am nestled halfway between the truecrime