Sunday, October 13, 2013

Top ten Norman Mailer books

J. Michael Lennon is the late Norman Mailer’s archivist and authorized biographer. Lennon's new book is Norman Mailer: A Double Life.

For Publishers Weekly, Lennon named his picks for the ten best Mailer books. One title on the list:
The Executioner’s Song

An immense panoramic nonfiction novel with over 300 characters that recreates the last nine months of Utah murderer Gary Gilmore. Relying heavily on the actual words of those involved (taken from 15,000 pages of interviews), Mailer depicts Gilmore’s Romeo-and-Juliet love affair with a young mother, Nicole Baker (both attempted suicide), and details the legal struggle between those who sought Gilmore’s reprieve and those who opposed it—the latter led by Gilmore, who insisted that his death sentence be carried out. He won and in January 1977 got four bullets through the heart—the first execution in the U.S. in ten years. Lawrence Schiller, Gilmore’s advisor, media spokesman, literary executor and the distributor of his ashes, holds the narrative together, and stands in for Mailer, who tells the story anonymously in what he called “a quiet voice from the other side of the hill.” He won his second Pulitzer for this book.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Executioner's Song also appears among Ron Hansen's five best literary tales of real-life crimes and Sarah Weinman's seven best true crime books; it is one of five books that made a difference to Josh Brolin.

--Marshal Zeringue