I can’t decide if this book was too long on purpose, to mimic the wait the State of Utah put convicted killer Gary Gilmore through after he was sentenced to die, or if that’s just how Mailer is. I also still can’t believe I actually read this, and as quickly as I did, but now I’m really getting out of review territory and into psychoanalysis so I’ll try to stop digressing. This is an excellent account of one man’s challenge to the government to do what they say (for once) and the still rippling after effects that happened to the criminal justice system, and the death penalty in particular, afterward. Mailer’s talent lies in his ability to write like an unbiased journalist, clear and concise, and yet still get his reader to feel compassion for the many complicated characters who make up this true story. Recommended for anyone interested in psychology, the history of the death penalty, and how the United States criminal justice system evolved to where it is today.
“A Very Tight Place,” the last short story in this book, is the most disgusting thing I have ever read. Who hasn’t had a fear of being locked inside a porta-potty?!?! Shudder. Great work from the master, as usual.