The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer

87%

9 Critic Reviews

What resonates about The Executioner's Song are the stark Utah landscapes, the twangy country soundtrack, and the way Jones reacts to the string of petty indignities imposed on his character.
-AV Club

Synopsis

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.

(280,000 words)
 

About Norman Mailer

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Norman Mailer (1923-2007) was 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; and The Castle in the Forest.Frank Rich is a columnist for The New York Times. His latest book is The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina.
 
Published May 8, 2012 by Grand Central Publishing. 1103 pages
Genres: Other, Literature & Fiction, Political & Social Sciences, Biographies & Memoirs, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Crime, History, Religion & Spirituality. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Executioner's Song
All: 9 | Positive: 8 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Excellent
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Sep 28 2011

Mailer has pulled off a crafty portrait, a shrewd reconstruction, a compelling projection of his own nature through that of a truly doomed man.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Gordon Burn on Jun 04 2008

Spare, quiet retelling of the life of a double murderer is one of Norman Mailer's best works.

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AV Club

Above average
on Aug 26 2008

What resonates about The Executioner's Song are the stark Utah landscapes, the twangy country soundtrack, and the way Jones reacts to the string of petty indignities imposed on his character.

Read Full Review of The Executioner's Song | See more reviews from AV Club

Entertainment Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Melissa Pierson on Jan 01 2008

Doesn't cut any corners off the complexities.

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Huffington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by David Eggers on May 22 2012

Mailer has sublimated his own style, and his own ideas, to the story, and a fair argument could be made that this sublimation . . . is the greater feat . . . its own small, perfect, and revelatory prose-poem.

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People

Above average
Reviewed by Picks and Pans on Jan 01 2008

To his credit, Mailer does not suggest any explanation, except, perhaps, the most chilling one: There isn't any.

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London Review of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by London Review of Books on Jan 01 2008

Norman Mailer’s book about Gilmore is a work of genius in its range, depth and restraint.

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Time Out New York

Above average

Sensation (crimes and punishment: two murders and a firing squad) and incongruity (Gilmore as media event) produce a troubled, quizzical analysis of background and context, but seem...displaced.

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Teen Ink

Excellent
Reviewed by 1two3Kelsey on Jan 01 2008

The 1,000 page novel takes on an entire new meaning after seeing a photograph of Gilmore’s rough, tired face.

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Reader Rating for The Executioner's Song
78%

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