Bloodline by Michael Green
Random House New Zealand, Reviewed by JANE BLAIKIE
Bloodline opens with scenes of fear and mayhem at Changi airport, Singapore, as a super-SARS pandemic takes hold. So flying out of Christchurch for Singapore, I opened the book with a mild thrill of recognition and hopes of a few hours of happy escapism. But this was not to be. Bloodline is a white-supremacy survivalist fantasy.
To digress for a moment: the label PC gets thrown about quite a lot these days. In fact, in Wellington, there’s something of a fear of being seen as too PC, and incurring the wrath of any number of folk – New Right commentators, National Party MPs, any number of white males aged over 50.
For example, a friend who chairs a small government agency has been advised to hold off from instituting Maori apprenticeships in an area where this would be a win-win for all parties in case it gets picked up before the election as an example of limp-wristed political correctness.
But reading Bloodline suggests that perhaps the pendulum has swung too far the other way. It’s a reminder of the Social Darwinists, with their ideas of Nature condoning the annihilation of the ‘weak’. And where did that end – without wanting to be too dramatic, but maybe it is time to consider where that kind of thinking ended – in the holocaust.
So what do we have in Bloodline: within a very few weeks of the angel of death laying waste to New Zealand, and elsewhere, Maori have reverted to kidnapping decent white folk and frying them on the BBQ; among the survivors, the disabled conveniently die at birth, the gay character is a sadistic rapist, women are excluded from decision-making because they can’t be trusted, and the elderly sacrifice themselves to beheading.
The publicity sheet accompanying Bloodline says the author donated the proceeds of the novel following the death of his son by suicide, though it’s not clear whether the book was written before or after the death. But a charitable explanation would be that it was written in the depths of grief, and who can begin to imagine the horror of losing a child.
But surely isn’t there some kind of duty, as a community, as individuals, to protect people from themselves when they are lost to reason? Doesn’t the publisher here have a responsibility?
Perhaps the difficulty was that technically Bloodline does work as a piece of writing, as a page-turning airport thriller.
Even so, this is one manuscript that belonged in the bottom drawer.
Jane Blaikie is a Wellington writer and reviewer.