Gary Gilmore, the infamous murderer immortalized by Norman
Mailer in The Executioner’s Song, campaigned for his own death and was
executed by firing squad in 1977. Writer Mikal Gilmore is his younger brother.
In Shot in the Heart, he tells the stunning story of their wildly
dysfunctional family: their mother, a blacksheep daughter of unforgiving Mormon
farmers; their father, a drunk, thief, and con man. It was a family destroyed
by a multigenerational history of child abuse, alcoholism, crime, adultery, and
Mikal, burdened with the guilt of being his father’s favorite
and the shame of being Gary’s brother, gracefully and painfully relates a
murder tale “from inside the house where murder is born…a house that, in some
ways, [he has] never been able to leave.” Shot in the Heart is the history
of an American family inextricably tied up with violence, and the story of how
the children of this family committed murder and murdered themselves in payment
for a long lineage of ruin.
Haunting, harrowing, and profoundly affecting, Shot in the Heart exposes and
explores a dark vein of American life that most of us would rather ignore. It
is a book that will leave no reader unchanged.
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