Monday, December 26, 2011

Shot in the Heart, by Mikal Gilmore

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 incredible 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. 

Next up: well, I'm 70% of the way through Les Misérables, and have a pile of Christmas books, so we'll see what captures my interest for my travels tomorrow. 

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