Winner of the 1980 Pulitzer PrizeIn what is arguably his greatest book, Americas most heroically ambitious writer followsthe short, blighted career of Gary Gilmore, an intractably violent product of Americasprisons who became notorious for two reasons: first, for robbing two men in 1976, thenkilling them in cold blood; and, second, after being tried and convicted, for insisting ondying for his crime. To do so, he had to fight a system that seemed paradoxically intent onkeeping him alive long after it had sentenced him to death.Norman Mailer tells Gilmores story--and those of the men and women caught up in hisprocession toward the firing squad--with implacable authority, steely compassion, and arestraint that evokes the parched landscapes and stern theology of Gilmores Utah. TheExecutioner's Song is a trip down the wrong side of the tracks to the deepest sources ofAmerican loneliness and violence. It is a towering achievement--impossible to put down, impossible to forget.
"[A] stupendous success."
John Cheever, Chicago Tribune Books
"I think no one but Mailer could have dared this book. The authentic Western voice, the voice heard in THE EXECUTIONER'S SONG, is one heard often in life but only rarely in literature, the reason being that to truly know the West is to lack all will to write it down. The very subject of THE EXECUTIONER'S SONG is that vast emptiness at the center of Western experience, a nihilism antithetical not only to literature but to most other forms of human endeavor, a dread so close to zero that human voices fade out, trail off, like skywriting....This is an absolutely astonishing book."
Joan Didion, New York Times Book Review, 10/07/1979