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Wednesday, March 23, 2005 

Unanswered Questions After 1000 Pages

Gary Gilmore was selfish, immature, a psychopath, and apparently prone to child molestation. I'm more comfortable with him being dead than alive.

This is what Norman Mailer's account taught me, but it also shared the motivations and emotions of every person mentioned in the account. The detail of every single aspect was astouding, and exhausting, but never boring.

The detail, while exhuastingly thorough, left two questions for me: 1) Was Gary Gilmore ever molested? and 2) How did Norman Mailer get into every single person's head (and was that part of it truly factual)?

Toward the end of the book, and the end of Gary's life, he is questioned repeatedly about if his mother beat him or who messed him up. He defends his mother vigorously and continuously, but there are psychological results that you can't argue with. He only liked very young girls. He confessed to having a kissing relationship with a 13 year old boy when he was 23. Nicole, his love, was very young looking and he constantly focused on her youthful appearance (calling her "elf").

You don't become a child molester unless you've been abused. (At least that's what Law & Order: SVU has taught me.) But Gary just wouldn't admit to being abused.

But the burning question to me as I read was, "How did Mailer do it?" He talked about people's motivations, secret desires, unspoken thoughts, etc. at every turn in the way. There have to have been at least 50 "characters" whose background information was delved into throughout the course of the book.

Because of Mailer's research and detail, you got a sense of why the players in the story did the things they did, things which I would normally have found to be inexplicable. For a moment, I even thought I understood why Gary killed the men he shot. But really, I still don't understand that part.

I guess for all of the exhaustive detail and background information, I wish Mailer had been able to tell us what really made Gary the way he was. And I wonder if being the son of Houdini's illegitmate son had anything to do with it.

I, too, have been wondering how he got into the minds all those involved. When the behavior was explained or reasoned out because I knew how the character was thinking or feeling I felt comforted momentarily, but then I realized that there is NO WAY Mr. Mailer could have known some of thoughts. There is NO WAY he could have gained the confidences of all those people to that depth. Should I feel manipulated, or do I hope that given cause, I would be "made up" in such detail to exonerate me from any doubtful motivation. After all, the back of my book says "Literature/Current Events" is that an oxymoron?

It won the 1980 Pulizer for Fiction. I think that says it all. :)

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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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