Friday, November 30, 2007

Best read of 2007?

I can't say this for certain, as I am about 25% through it, but Mikal Gilmore's Shot in the Heart is the leading contender for my best nonfiction read of 2007. Gilmore is is Gary Gilmore's brother, and the book concerns the astoundingly tragic story of his family. The tone is not one of absolution, but really an explanation. Gilmore explains the Book of Mormon's success as coming from its focus on two of America's favorite subjects, family and murder. The painful, honest look at family and blood is what makes this book so powerful.

This is the sort of book that lends credence to Helene Hanff's assertion that nonfiction is so good that there is little reason to read fiction. Many novels try to explain the profound impact of family on life, but I don't know that I've seen a novel that does it as well as this.


Anonymous said...

Have you ever read "All God's Children" by Fox Butterfield. It's tells the story of Willie Bosket, a rather violent individual. It came about about 10 years ago. Might check it out. Sven.

Anonymous said...

So glad to hear it. I loved that one. SCM

Anonymous said...

Oh my God, one of the best books ever. I firmly remember starting this one at 8 p.m. or so one night and I couldn't stop until I was done, which meant I got ridiculously little sleep. Thanks for bringing it to readers' attention again here.

If you can stand it another true crime read, there's at least three other books that rival fiction's ability to hold a reader spellbound: A Rip in Heaven by Jeanine Cummins; Strange Piece of Paradise by Terri Jentz, or Fall, by Ron Franscell.

Tripp said...

Wow, those are some intense looking books. I suspect you need to take a break between them. Did you see that the paperback of Fall has a new title? It will be called the Darkest Night.

Tripp said...


I know Butterfield only through his China reporting, but that book looks great. It is getting re-issued in January.


Brack said...

Hmm. Mormons, family and murder, you say.

Have you, by chance, read Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven?

JK caught some flak for this, as he did for Into Thin Air; the LDS was none too pleased with Krakauer's book, and the edition I read had a "right back atcha" epilogue from him. In common parlance, I believe they got faced.


Tripp said...

Yes indeed I did read the same edition of U the B of H. That was one fine read and I did enjoy his rather intricate reply. That book featured the Jeffs family, one of whom Warren, was just convicted of being an accomplice to rape. Jeffs by the way looks a lot like the scary bad guy from Poltergeist 2.

The Church of the LDS, on a historical basis, doesn't exactly shine in the Shot in the Heart either. He presents their theological recipe having a few too tablespoons of bloodthirstiness.

To be fair, I think he is saying that the LDS became fixated on violence because of persecution as Gary became fixated on violence due his familial persecution. Still.

Anonymous said...

I actually listened to Krakauer's Mormon book on CD while driving up to Colorado to ski a couple of winters ago. Brack, did you ever make the trip out to Woodward, Oklahoma you called me about a year or so ago? Sven.

Brack said...


I actually did make it out there back in March. I flew into OKC around 11:30 pm one night, and drove out to Woodward at 6:00 the next morning. Sadly, that left me no time to catch up with you and your "clients" over at Brick Town Babes. I did, however, get a chance to swing through the Tex-Mex buffet at K-Bobs . . . so the trip was not a total loss.