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Thursday, March 24, 2005 

Too Much to Take

When I was younger, I often would get in trouble for reading. Well, I wouldn’t actually get in trouble so much for the reading as I would for not putting down the five books I was reading at one time to do what I was told. However, never in all my life have I ever been grounded from a book. That is until I started reading The Executioner’s Song for this month’s Book Club selection. All it took was one phone call to my mom, dumping out all the ickiness that was in that book and in this world, for her to say, “JP, put down that book…and do not pick it back up. You can tell everyone your mother grounded you from it and that prevented you from finishing it.” Now, that excuse may be right up there with “my dog ate my homework” or “my cat unplugged my alarm clock” but it’s very much a true story. And for what it’s worth, I decided to listen to my mother.

I internalize A LOT. I’m very sensitive to many, specific things in this world. I worry about the craziest things. I worry about the poor guy stranded on the side of the road and hope that his day gets better. I worry about the lady in the mall who is scarred so badly, I cringe at the pain she must’ve felt that made the scars. I worry about the kids walking to or from school, by themselves, in the pouring rain. I worry about the dorky kid that probably gets made fun of and thrown in a trash can because that happens sometimes. I worry about all those crack babies that don’t have a chance…or the babies that don’t have enough to eat and go hungry to school everyday. And don’t even get me started on the worry that goes on for the little girls in Cambodia. I try not to watch too much news on TV because that just starts an entire downward spiral of worrying. You can see why each day I read from The Executioner’s Song, I walked away from it feeling so yucky inside that my mom actually grounded me from it.

Norman Mailer has an amazing gift of giving the reader the insight of each of the characters in this book. Without even finishing the book, I know more about Gary Gilmore than I EVER wanted to know. He is demented, evil, selfish and ruined so many lives, even his own. As good of a writer as Norman Mailer is, I still just cannot fathom taking another life. I cannot identify with a person who intentionally ruins another person’s life…and who does it repeatedly. The more I learned about Gary, the more it made me sick to my stomach.

Learning more about Nicole was no different, to be honest. I think learning more about her made me just as ill, but in a different way. Her actions and decisions are so far out of my realm of possibilities that I can no more identify with her than I can Gilmore. I felt so sad that the young girl had settled for a life of poverty, drugs, abuse and living with so many men that did her constant harm. I felt disgusted by her complete disregard for her children and their safety and well-being. How could a mother put her children in such danger? What part of this life led her to believe that all was okay? THESE TRUE-LIFE PEOPLE MADE ME NOT ABLE TO FINISH THIS BOOK!

This book (the parts I did read) was theoretically well written. I say “theoretically” because that man is a talented writer, but I couldn’t stomach the actual words that were written. Mailer wrote this book in a strange, detached way that makes some reader able to read with somewhat of the same detachment. Apparently Mailer just wasn’t a good enough writer for me to be able to do the same. This book attached itself to my spirit and just wouldn’t let go until I put the book down and away. I'm sorry, but I just couldn't do it.

But someday, let's talk about Norman Mailer's hair.

JP, I haven't read this book, but your post sounds so familiar to me. I internalize the pain and hurt I see every day as well so I don't think I'll even try to read The Executioner's Song. There have been other books, the one that comes to mind right now is Fall On Your Knees, an Oprah selection. I started to read it and at first was charmed by the couple and their dedication to each other. Then, as they drifted apart and I realized the man was interested in young girls (not catching the sledgehammer of foreshadowing earlier on) and that the book would keep getting more and more painful, I finally stopped reading it altogether.

Your post rang so true to me. I watched a TV show about the women in the Congo several weeks ago and had to turn it off because I was weeping over what they have gone through.

It's not that I live in denial. I know what is going on in the world. But I can't let it consume me and paralyze me, which it would if I let it. So overall, I forego painful books like this.

JP, I'm grateful for sensitive people who care about the desiped and downtrodden, who feel something.

This book was also painful for me to read because I too tend to internalize things more than is necessary.

You sparked a question in my mind: what ever happened to Nicole's kids? Everyone in this book was so well documented and discected, what about THOSE poor victims? Where are they and what happened to them? How did they feel during all of this?

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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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