Lionel Shriver on mass shootings, gun control and American carnage

This is an edited transcript of a conversation between Freddy Gray and Lionel Shriver on The Spectator’s Americano podcast, which you can listen to here. Freddy Gray: Lionel, I feel a bit guilty asking you to talk about this, because I know you’ve become a kind of go-to person about mass shootings in America because you wrote a very significant novel – We Need to Talk About Kevin. You’ve written before about how awkward it is that every time there’s a mass shooting in America, people ask you to come on and talk about it. But in your book, the killer was using a bow, not a gun. So you don’t

The Texas school shooting won’t change a thing

Joe Biden gave one of his more eloquent speeches yesterday in response to the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. He didn’t sound doddery, possibly because it’s pretty much the same speech that he and/or Barack Obama have given after almost every school shooting for over a decade. He’s passionate about this issue. He’s also well-rehearsed. ‘To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away,’ he said, speaking as someone who has lost two of his own children: There’s a hollowness in your chest you feel like you’re being sucked into it. And never going to be able to get out. Suffocating.

Britain’s abortion debate is horrendously one-sided

Notice anything about the coverage of the new Texas abortion law in Britain? I mean, quite apart from the fact that we’re obsessing about it in a way that confirms that culturally, Britain is more or less an offshore US state (the US is another country, no?). But on the actual issue, Texas has changed its abortion law to ban the procedure if there is ‘a detectable fetal heartbeat’ — in effect, after six weeks. The US Supreme Court has just upheld this in a very tight 5-4 vote. The justices are also due to hear an appeal against a 2018 Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks. South

Here in Texas, Hell has frozen over

Austin ‘If I owned Texas and Hell,’ General Phil Sheridan famously said, ‘I would rent out Texas and live in Hell.’ Although the weather was unusually warm for the season in central Texas we guessed something was up when, in broad daylight with hawks about, our normally crepuscular attic mice risked running down a porch pillar and gathering the spilled seed from bird feeders. They vanished completely days before the snowstorm struck. Sadly, some of our birds were not so prescient. We watched a bewildered Audubon’s warbler, which could no longer fly, hopping about in the snow. Either it had lost the main flock continuing south, or good weather had

We’re spending lockdown defending a family of mice

Austin My first Independence Day in the US for many years. Usually I’d be in Paris avoiding Texas heat. My wife and I are self-isolating with much more square feet and wildlife to enjoy. Our garden is lush and green, full of flowers, owls, hawks, possums, squirrels, skunks, armadillos and snakes. Recent wild fires drove more animals into town. Joyously athletic with the recklessness of youth, squirrels and redbirds chase each other through our oaks and pecans and it’s pretty good to sit on the front porch with a cooling drink and the rich scent of magnolias in the evening air. The young hawks are in heaven. They have discovered

Joyous and very, very funny: Beastie Boys Story reviewed

The music of the Beastie Boys was entirely an expression of their personalities, a chance to delightedly splurge out on to record everything that amused them. And early on, in their teens-get-drunk debut album, Licensed To Ill, that resulted in obnoxiousness. But mostly they were kinetic and colourful, which is why the new Apple TV+ film about them works so well. The format suits the story. Beastie Boys Story simply documents a stage show where winningly they talk the audience through their personal history. It’s much like Netflix’s Springsteen on Broadway. But since the third Beastie, Adam Yauch, died in 2012, the band no longer perform, so where Springsteen punctuated