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Saturday, March 26, 2005 

A Reluctant Invader of Privacy

I love a good story, who doesn’t? I like, no, LOVE to know the who, what, why, where, how, & when… I like to stand where SOMETHING happened, something important and eventful; like at the old temple site at Nauvoo (now an actual temple which I haven’t seen, but the actual thing, while exciting, cannot be as mysterious as the empty lot with the exposed foundation…), the grassy knoll in Dallas, and most recently, the street corner where Biggie Smalls was gunned down in front of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

While I might be strange, I know I’m not the only one who loves the gritty details…the only one who wants the inside scoop.

I think “The Executioner’s Song” has cured me of that.

This last week, in preparation for my blog, I went out of my way to drive past the Best Western on 3rd South in Provo TWICE. I rounded the corner and tried to guess which house belonged to Vern Damico, to imagine Gary Gilmore walking down the street and trying to stash a gun in the bushes. I even made Todd drive me up to 175 East 800 North in Orem to see the Sinclair station bathrooms. I went as far as to take photos that I planned on posting with my blog to put you RIGHT THERE. To stand in the spot…

But I have changed my mind.

Reason #1: I had to stop reading the book. I am a person who must read the book from cover to cover, and I just couldn’t do it; I got to page 361 and then skimmed a few more pages at the back. The book was affecting my mood.

Here’s what I liked: Mr. Mailer is a good writer. I appreciated the occasional insertion of vernacular, not in quote, but in description of common things.

For an outsider, I thought he treated our peculiar community with objectivity and with occasionally beautiful insight. For example:

“[Colleen and Max] were going to be married in time and eternity, married not only in this life, but as each of them has explained to many a Sunday School class, married in death as well, for the soul of the husband and wife would meet again in eternity and be together forever. In fact, marriage in other Christian churches was practically equal to divorce, since such marriages were only made until parting by death. That was what Max and Colleen had taught their students. Now they were marrying each other. Forever.”

This is not derivative of Mormon sealings, but tender and accurate; intentionally, if not physically, juxtaposed against Gary and Nicole’s doomed, carnal, and death halted relationship.

I was also really intrigued by some of the issues brought up in later pages; about the death penalty, the penal code, and Hollywood’s hunger for story rights…but I just couldn’t get past the first few hundred pages. I seriously needed a simple synopsis, not a psyche evaluation and a history of sexual dysfunction.

Reason #2: Everyone’s blogs this week made me see my position in a new light, almost daily. But Cameron put the last nail in the lid of the coffin. I owe it to everyone I know who has had a rough go, and who has been gossiped about (even by reporters and the media), to just let the story be.

While Mr. Mailer’s story is compelling, it is not, CANNOT be reality, even if it says “Literature/Current Affairs” on the spine. I won’t propagate the legend, I won’t take to heart the falsehoods, I don’t want to know the why’s so badly that I become one of a million invaders of someone else’s private story. I said it all in a comment on Cameron’s blog.

This story is too fresh to be made up quite yet. The blood has barely soaked into the ground. I’m not ready for the sordid, excruciatingly EXACT details. Some of the people in the book are still living, and grieving. If they want me to know about their true grief, I’ll have to let them tell me.

I’ll wait for a story where the blood is dried, turned to dust, and long, long gone. I need the sterilization of passing time.

It’s not that I don’t want to know, I just don’t want to know just yet, I feel like an invader…

CA - I find it so interesting that you and Cam bring up the "invasion of privacy" (for lack of a better term.) So many people were affected (even ruined) by this man, Gary Gilmore. But how hard would it be, as his family, to re-live the horror all over again.

I didn't like this book for my own reasons...it disturbed me. But like you said, it had lasting effects on my mood. But I'm glad that you and Cam reminded us of how human we all are. How nosy we can be. How invasive we can be to other's lives if we're not careful.

Great post, my friend.

As always, you have some great insights here.

I can't believe you did drive-bys of the locations in the book... which I also would have done if it was geographically feasible.

Also... did you get to the part where Mailer calls the big Mormon dance the "Golden Green Ball" instead of the "Gold and Green Ball"? Love it. Reminds me of when I talked about FHE to my non-LDS friends and they called it "F-A-G".

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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