Not the Same Family

I’ve blogged previously about how I found and came to love Mikal Gilmore’s memoir Shot in the Heart.

Gilmore writes:

“In any event, I grew up in a world so entirely different from that of my brothers, I may as well have grown up under another surname.”

Gilmore’s point here that “the family I grew up in was not the same family my brothers grew up in” has me thinking about whose story gets told and whether or not anyone grows up in the same family as their siblings. I’ll explore this further later in the week on Thursday when I blog about a visual art show on memory, both cultural and instinctive.

By the time Mikal Gilmore came to write Shot in the Heart which was published in 1994 a great amount of ink had been spent on his brother Gary’s story. No less a luminary than Norman Mailer had written about Gary – in The Executioner’s Song. In case you aren’t familiar with Gary Gilmore, he was a notorious murderer who became the first man to be executed in the US after a five year long hiatus on all executions.

So craft points from Mikal Gilmore’s story.

  • Even though even Norman Mailer had written about Gary Gilmore, Mikal Gilmore was able to find an angle into the family’s story that only he could tell. I’m not arguing that each of us run out to find our very own angle into whatever is in the news, but that there is a unique and interesting angle to everyone’s life.
  • Also, I think Not the Same Family is a great take off line for generating material. How did you not grow up in the same family as your siblings? How have institutions you’ve been in or associated with changed over time and become not the same?

On Tuesdays, I blog about reading books for craft suggestions.

The course Writing Mental Illness is getting spiffed up and will be back on August 14, 2009 in a new format. Go to my class page for more info.


Alison Bergblom Johnson

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