Paul Auster: ‘The right to own a gun in the US is seen as a kind of holy grail’
In their new book, the novelist and his photographer son-in-law document the sites of mass shootings in the US and argue for urgent change in the relationship between Americans and guns
How did the book Bloodbath Nation come about?
My son-in-law, the photographer Spencer Ostrander, came to me one day very upset about the gun violence he was seeing all around him – as a decent human being would be. He said he’d decided to start travelling around the country, photographing the sites of all the mass shootings in the past 20 years. As I say in the book, mass shootings account for just a small fraction of American gun deaths, but they nevertheless occur with stunning frequency – roughly one per day over the course of any given year. Spencer made a series of long-distance excursions over the course of two-and-a-half years and finally took pictures of 30 to 40 places. When he showed them to me, I said: ‘“I think these are very, very compelling photos, and maybe if you put them together as some kind of book, I could write a text to go with it.” It was just an idea at that point and as it evolved, it became a kind of dialogue between us – the word man and the picture man.