Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Shot in the Heart

Did I say that Shot in the Heart was my top read for 2007? Silly me, this may be my top read of the decade. It is clearly going on my all time favorite list. As I mentioned before, this is the story of Gary Gilmore's family, and it is so rough (one brother executed, one dead far too young from fast living, one a shattered man floating alone and one a successful writer) that it isn't a surprise that author Mikal Gilmore thinks it would have been best if his parents never married and had children.

Gilmore captures the effect and range of powerful emotion with an impact greater than that of novelists, because it is real. The tragic nature of his family history means that two of the most significant emotions are loss and regret. His exploration of the choices not made and the relationships lost made me so reflective that I couldn't sleep for hours after finishing the book.

There have been many sad and terrible stories in the past, but Gilmore keeps the reader from becoming numb by changing the tone and the direction. He talks about the happy times the family had, if only to show what might have been. He also spends a lot of time on the family mythology. In some cases, there are actual ghost stories. In others, family members tell stories that are metaphorical or allegories to explain the terrible past. Gilmore notes where he cannot corroborate the stories, but the tales reinforce the omnipresent power of both family and the past.

Portlanders will be interested in the depiction of Portland from the 40s to the 70s with a brief visit to the early 90s. Most of the activity is in SE Portland and Milwaukee but the wild night life gets a nod as well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's a pretty unbelievable book. You've got me thinking it should be one of the choices in my next online book discussion, although it's a bit long for that...still and all. Unbelievable stuff.