Angus Cerini’s brutal, and brutally funny, The Bleeding Tree won the 2014 Griffin Award. Here he talks to us about the role of government and reveling in the downfall of those who prey on others.
It has been enormously enjoyable writing The Bleeding Tree. To revel in the downfall of someone who preys on others and to envisage a community joining in on that destruction.
I wonder though at our continual failure to protect those most vulnerable. I wonder at the celebration of our war dead, while the numbers of women and children destroyed by another less glorious version of masculinity lie forgotten by the wayside. I wonder whether things like the tax on tampons or those without a uterus opining about reproductive rights represent the very thin edge of the wedge when it comes to violence against women. Or maybe these things are just a distraction?
Being equal before the law is a central tenet of our democracy. Having access to justice is the one necessary aspect of our society we must fix before anything else can be achieved. The rates of incarceration in this country have far less to do with guilt or innocence, and more to do with the power of your dollar. If there is one thing a government should do it is to increase the ability of any individual to seek redress under the law.
The primary role of government is not to manage the economy it is to allow for a healthy society to flourish. And to be clear, the relatively tiny sums of money needed to make a difference in the lives of our most vulnerable are dwarfed by what is spent on the wars on drugs and terror and the remembering of wars past. Sucking the resources out of basic human services displays an impoverished grasp of what true political leadership involves.
Perhaps the enjoyment I’ve had writing The Bleeding Tree comes back to the fact that despite the improbability of things changing in the real world, perhaps simply expressing this impossible desire might bring the fantasy to life somehow. And the festering corpse of all those violent men swinging in the air – alongside the corrupted system that allows him to exist at all – is I think, one we all want to stand around celebrating.