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Shot in the Heart by Mikal Gilmore
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Shot in the Heart

by Mikal Gilmore

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    The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer (paulkid)
    paulkid: They're both about Gary Gilmore, but from completely different perspectives.
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I loved this book. After 450 pages I started to read The Execution's Song and at the end I read both books at the same time. Mikal's view and the view of people in Norman Mailers book.

I highly recommend both books. ( )
  Marlene-NL | Apr 12, 2013 |
Years ago, I devoured the gigantic Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer in a weekend. Gary Gilmore's story as Mailer told it was heart-wrenching and involving. I picked up Shot in the Heart to see what Mikal Gilmore could add to the story. The answer is both a lot and not much.

Mikal was the youngest of the four Gilmore boys, with a 6-year gap between him and the next-youngest, Gaylen. Mikal's memories start well after Gary's life had started down a hard path; in fact, his first memory of Gary is of a stranger being introduced as his brother (Gary had been away at a boarding school for troubled children). In some ways, Mikal lived in a different world than his brothers. Their father didn't beat Mikal, while the others were subjected to cruel treatment regularly. Mikal traveled with their father, keeping him away from his brothers and their troubles for much of his youth. He lived in a different world, but it wasn't untouched by the family's legacy of violence and chaos.

He relies on his oldest brother Frank's memory for many of the things that happened while he wasn't around, and Frank has a way with words. Both brothers are able to look back with unflinching honesty at what it was like for them, and what it may have been like for their lost brothers. This book is less about Gary Gilmore's murders and execution and more about what may have driven him to them, what demons the family had, and the mystery of how those demons affected four brothers differently. I don't know that this book alone would give you much information about Gary's case and his death without having read The Executioner's Song, but it's a powerful look at Gary's origins and surroundings if you have read the other book. ( )
  ursula | Mar 9, 2012 |
Ah, true crime. So voyeuristic.

I expected this book to be far more about Gary Gilmore's murders, that being all I knew about the family. Instead it was about the incredibly family dysfunction that created a murderer, although Gilmore also admits he doesn't know if Gary was born differently from the other children or shaped by the environment. After all, there were four brothers, and only one became a murderer.

Gilmore writes very well, and you don't get utterly overwhelmed by the litany of terrible events in his childhood. The descriptions of their "haunted" house in Salt Lake City (Gilmore repeats several times that he doesn't believe in ghosts, but that everyone in the family felt presences and heard voices) are chilling. Whatever was going on in that house, many people were very unhappy and creating a terrible atmosphere, and it seems like all four boys were trying to run away from that house as best they could.

There isn't much plot to describe. The Gilmores grew up in shifting, hostile circumstances, and three of them did some jail time, and two of them died young, and if one of those two hadn't famously died by firing squad, it might have just been a memoir in the whose-childhood-was-worse competition, albeit written twenty years before that competition really took off. But Mikal Gilmore writes very, very well, and manages to tell his story without self-pity, and it's many steps above your standard memoir.
  atheist_goat | Dec 26, 2011 |
This book was fantastic - no holds-barred truth from a family member. Very emotional - my heart went out to this whole family on so many levels. An intimate and revealing look into a tragedy all the way around. ( )
  kelawrence | Nov 29, 2011 |
Mikal Gilmore is a brother of Gary Gilmore, the murderer whose highly publicized execution was the subject of Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song. Having read The Executioner's Song, when I heard about this book, I was intrigued by the chance to learn about the brother's side of the story.

The story side of the book did not disappoint: reading the book you get to know the whole Gilmore family. It is too facile to boil down 400 pages of description by saying the family is "fucked up," but I don't know how else to summarize it concisely. If you want to know how fucked up precisely they were, you'll have to read the book.

But although the book has all the ingredients of a good book -- a compelling story and complex characters spanning multiple generations -- I wouldn't call it a good book, and I think it is because Mikal Gilmore is not a very good writer. At first I thought it isn't Mikal Gilmore's fault that he, as a person whose talents lie in fields other than writing, was the person best situated to tell this story: Gary Gilmore's parents are dead, and of his three brothers one was killed and one is living a somewhat unstable life, so only Mikal is left to tell the story. But as it turns out, Mikal Gilmore is actually a writer by profession. In many cases, I felt the story could have been very powerful in the hands of a better writer or editor. The author uses a somewhat simplistic vocabulary, skips over key events in just a few sentences while spending several pages on unrelated sidelines, makes odd jumps in time that are meant for dramatic effect but appear forced . . . I could go on. I feel a bit mean saying this, when what I'm saying is about an actual person's life, but if you're describing your reaction to a horrifying event, descriptions along the lines of "I felt bad" do not work very well in a book.

Having said that, there are some moving parts about what in my mind is the real hero of the book: Frank Gilmore, Jr., Gary and Mikal's eldest brother, who, despite having had his own encounters with the criminal justice system, seems to make up in humanity what Gary and the fourth brother Gaylen lacked. ( )
1 vote Edith1 | Mar 5, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385478003, Paperback)

"I have a story to tell. It is a story of murder told from inside the house where murder is born. It is the house where I grew up, a house that, in some ways, I have never been able to leave."

Mikal Gilmore is a Rolling Stone writer and the youngest brother of murderer Gary Gilmore, who became, in 1977, the first person to be executed in the United States after a 10-year hiatus, a case which was subsequently recounted in Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song. This brave and eloquent book is the story that only Mikal Gilmore knows: the violence in multiple generations of his family, what the Gilmore house was like as he was growing up, his relationship with his brother, and his experience of the dramatic events surrounding Gary Gilmore's determination to be executed as planned, without appeal. Shot in the Heart pulls off the rare feat of conveying intense emotion without sentimentality or self-pity. The author's struggle is to set himself apart from the lurid true-crime fraternity of his father and brothers yet remain able to understand why he feels both guilty and lonely over his exclusion from his family's violent history. --Fiona Webster

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:40 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Its January 1977 and Gary Gilmore is about to become the first convicted murderer to be executed in a decade. Gary's youngest brother, Mikal, can help prevent the execution, but first he has to get to know the brother he barely remembers. Born of a brutal father, raised in a family haunted by death, religion and superstition, the brothers discover their shared past. The true story of the Gilmore family, told by the journalist Mikal Gilmore, brother of the notorious murderer Gary Gilmore.… (more)

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