Book Review: The Executioner’s Song (Mailer)

Have I read this before: No. I remember going to check it out at the U of C library once and it was this big honking 1,000-ish page book and I was like I’m not carrying that chunky thing around so I never did check it out, haha.

Review: So I’m pretty sure that even Gary Gilmore couldn’t have given a more thorough account of his own life. Gary Gilmore, in case you don’t know, admitted to committing two murders in Utah in 1976. He wished for the death penalty to be invoked and went through several stays of execution (mainly due to the American Civil Liberties Union’s efforts) before he was finally killed by firing squad.

This book is an insanely detailed story of his life, the events leading up to the murders, the murders themselves, and then his jail time and all the court appearances and stays of execution. At first I felt it was way too tedious, but after the first few chapters I really got into it and appreciated just how detailed it all was. It was almost like you were going alongside him in real time, watching everything he did and seeing everything he saw. Very interesting.

Favorite part: Mailer did a really good job of drawing out the stays of execution, one after another. Those last few hundred pages were very frustrating because you knew what was going to happen (that is, if you looked up Gary Gilmore prior to reading the book, which I did, haha) but each attempt at execution was thwarted until the very end.


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