Bloodbath Nation by Paul Auster is a powerful and timely meditation on gun violence in America, especially in light of another mass shooting. In this short but deeply affecting book, Auster interweaves his own personal story with the larger history of gun violence in the United States.
He writes about his own childhood fascination with guns. Not to mention his father’s traumatic experience with gun violence, and the many mass shootings that have taken place in America in recent years. Above all else, he talks about the complexity of the situation that continues to plague the country.
Who is Paul Auster?
Auster himself is an American author and poet born on February 3, 1947. Some of his most notable novels, screenplays and poetry collections include "The New York Trilogy," "Moon Palace," "Oracle Night," and "4 3 2 1." He is known for his literary style that blends reality and fiction and often explores themes such as identity, chance, and mortality. He has received numerous literary awards throughout his career, including the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature and the Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
What is Bloodbath Nation by Paul Auster about?
The American author’s writing is both personal and political. He is clearly outraged by the ongoing gun violence, but he is also thoughtful and nuanced in his analysis of the problem. He acknowledges the serious challenges and the difficulty of finding solutions. But he also makes a strong case for the need for stricter gun control laws.
He writes: “[The] philosophical divide between the two camps is so profound that for many decades now it has prevented the gun-control and anti-gun-control forces from sitting down together to work out a compromise solution that would address the heartbreaking calamity of excess gun violence that continues to spread into every corner of the United States.”
On the one hand, Auster says “the anti-gun-control minority is correct when that say gun violence is caused by the irresponsible or unhinged people who use guns”. While on the other hand, he clarifies “but to say guns do not cause gun violence is no less ludicrous than saying that cars do not cause car crashes”. It’s this ambiguity in the system that leaves the reader feeling queasy, as the US faced its 130th mass shooting this year including the school shooting at Nashville (at the time of writing).
What happened to Paul Auster’s family?
Auster’s writing is clear and engaging, and his personal stories are both moving and thought-provoking. He does an excellent job of weaving his own story together with the larger history of gun violence in America. He talks about how his mother and father never owned firearms themselves. This is due to the fact that his father had lost his parent after Auster’s grandmother shot and killed her husband in a domestic violence situation.
In this way, Auster says: “I finally understood how much my father must have abhorred guns and how badly his life had been scarred by the brutality of guns when real bullets are fired into a real human body.”
The result is a book that is both personal and political. There is no solution which is a bleak reminder of the helpless situation, especially in terms of governmental attitudes. Nothing will change if no one enacts legislation. His fear is that the “fissures in American society are steadily growing into great chasms of empty space”.
Bloodbath Nation is an important book that everyone should read. It is a powerful reminder of the human cost of gun violence and the urgent need for action. While Auster’s book may be short, he continues to remind us that each act affects everyone in our society. You can purchase Bloodbath Nation by Paul Auster here. Don’t forget to check out the review on Rick Rubin’s book The Creative Act.
Meanwhile, here is Another Day in the Death of America and Who We Are author Gary Younge on identity politics: