The Book: Mikal Gilmore, SHOT IN THE HEART. Anchor Books trade paperback, 1994 (first edition). Fine condition.
First read: 1995
Owned since: 1995
I'm in Brooklyn at my friend Matt's, so once again all posts during my stay will be books both of us own. Matt, if anything, is more compulsive about his books than I am; they are shelved according to the order in which he read them, and visitors take books off the shelves at their own peril. This one was at the end of a row, so I know just where to put it back.
This book would have fit in well between IN COLD BLOOD and MY DARK PLACES, as it is another memoir about the effects of violence on a family. Mikal Gilmore's brother, however, was the killer, not the killed; he was Gary Gilmore, the first man to be executed in the United States after the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty.
Mikal was younger than Gary by many years, so didn't even know his brother that well -- but such a catastrophe didn't come from nowhere, and it made ripples well beyond Gary Gilmore's immediate family. Mikal Gilmore looks fearlessly at his family's history and mythology, looking for clues about why Gary wasted his opportunities in favor of a bloody gas station robbery.
It's frightening, it's sad, and it's one of the bravest, most compassionate books I've ever read. SHOT IN THE HEART is simply an extraordinary book, and if I'll never be able to reread it, I keep it on the shelf to honor Mikal Gilmore's gift.
Five Random Songs
"Don't Ask Me to Choose," Fine Young Cannibals. Great summertime music.
"Frank Mills," from the Hair soundtrack. I love this song, which is actually kind of terrible -- a song from a girl looking for the man who took advantage of her months ago, reassuring him that she still cares for him and he doesn't need to return the $2 he borrowed.
"It Happened in Monterey," Frank Sinatra. I spent seven hours today listening to show tunes. I'm not exaggerating. Next.
"The Bunting Song," The Good, the Bad, and the Queen. Ah, better. So retro it feels new again, a gift from my friend Tom.
"There's a Touch," The Proclaimers. The world does not have enough Scottish rock bands.