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Shot in the Heart Paperback – August 1, 1995
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Mikal Gilmore is a Rolling Stone writer and the youngest brother of murderer Gary Gilmore, who became, in 1977, the first person to be executed in the United States after a 10-year hiatus, a case which was subsequently recounted in Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song. This brave and eloquent book is the story that only Mikal Gilmore knows: the violence in multiple generations of his family, what the Gilmore house was like as he was growing up, his relationship with his brother, and his experience of the dramatic events surrounding Gary Gilmore's determination to be executed as planned, without appeal. Shot in the Heart pulls off the rare feat of conveying intense emotion without sentimentality or self-pity. The author's struggle is to set himself apart from the lurid true-crime fraternity of his father and brothers yet remain able to understand why he feels both guilty and lonely over his exclusion from his family's violent history. --Fiona Webster
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Fortunately, years later, I was able to read "Shot in the Heart," which still carries a strong emotional impact many years after the reading. Mikal Gilmore's recollections, insight, and unflinching writing create one of the most powerful books I've ever read.
Gilmore opens the door to a home that transcends the labels "dysfunctional" or "abusive." He takes us inside the house--and sometimes the heads--of those who lived a nightmare, and shows, among other things, how that experience caused one of his brothers to bury his emotions and become a lonely wanderer while it pushed another into a life of delinquency, crime, and murder. The book is a fascinating, first-hand study of the impact of the family dynamic, social and religious judgement, and civic injustice on the lives of an unassuming American family.
I sometimes scoff at the preponderance of five-star reviews on Amazon, but I cannot recommend this title more.
Yet, Gary Gilmore was a person shaped by the events of his formative years and by the events which took place in his family. The Gilmore family was not a fairy-tale family: rather, it defined the word "disfunctional". The father, Frank, Sr., beat the mother, Bessie, in front of the children on more than one occasion. He beat the boys, too, reserving the worst of the white-hot heat of his inner anger for Gary. Gary's violent acts, and the fate he suffered, prove once more that it is the children who often pay for the sins of the parents. In this case, a child paid the ultimate price.
Today, two of the brothers are living and two are dead (Gaylen died in 1971 from complications from a stabbing in Chicago). In Shot In The Heart, Gary's brother, Mikal, a well-known writer for Rolling Stone magazine, breaks the silence and tells the story of the family's violent, abnormal history. With brutal honesty and candid, painful insight, he speaks for both the living and the dead.Read more ›
Gilmore delves into the lives of his parents and brothers. His father, Frank Sr., was an older man who would run scams and con games, moving from town to town. He also married a half dozen times and fathered as many children under different aliases. Mikal's mother, Bessie, was a Mormon who grew up in another strange family, filled with death and belief in hauntings and spirits. Both parents beat their first three sons unmercifully. Frank Jr., Gary, and Gaylen seemed like normal little boys until their parents got done with them.
Mikal was the fourth son born, and probably got better treatment than the others. Frank Jr. disappeared after his brother's Gary execution, and was missing from Mikal's life for about ten years. Gary Gilmore spent most of his life in reform school and prison, before murdering two young men in Provo and being executed in Utah by firing squad. Gary's experiences in reform school, especially on his first night, is so horrible it is hard to forget (especially considering this type of behavior is happening to children). Gaylen was the third son, and almost as much of a criminal as Gary. He would end up dying young, the roundabout result of a mysterious stabbing that would not heal.
Gilmore's book, coming in at over 400 pages, is a fast paced read. He never tries to explain his brothers' behavior, and he does not defend them, he merely lays out the facts of their family's upbringing, and the reader experiences the shocking life the Gilmores went through.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fascinating biography on the life of Gary Gilmore. While I do think this book starts off very slowly and focuses a bit on random topics, overall this is a very well written book. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Jessika Miller
Really interesting story. Dysfunctional or not it will make you appreciate the family you have and feel thankful that they are not as crazy as this guys family.Published 4 months ago by Brian V
Mikal Gilmore shares his truths, however difficult they were, with an heartbreaking honesty. I found myself rereading passages that led to feeling the pain of the individuals and... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Daniel A. Ybanez
I was a few decades late reading "The Executioner's Son,," reading this book immediately after was an unexpected bonus. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Tracy P
The saddest family history ever written. Could be a manual for how to grow a murderer. Gary Gilmore committed terrible acts but with parents like his, did he ever have a chance ?Published 4 months ago by Marina McGehee
I am proud to own a First Edition of Mikal Gilmore's masterpiece, originally published in 1994. I take it from the bookcase every few years to read it again and, each time, my... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Violet Q. Sherburn