The dilemma of Harry Joy is both funny and terrifying, for Harry wakes up in Hell, tortured by those he loves, and by the dreams and nightmares he once created for profit. Bliss is a shimmering delight – an acrobatic display of language, character and plot.
Peter Carey’s hero is a happy innocent; he remembers his childhood as a Vision Splendid, indulges his wife and children, and is universally regarded as a Good Bloke. Then he dies – only for nine minutes, it’s a heart attack – and wakes up in Hell. His wife is unfaithful, his partner’s a rat, his son pushes drugs, his daughter sells herself, his advertising company promotes products that cause cancer. Against these torments Carey provides a saviour: hippy Honey Barbara, pantheist, healer, whore. Honey is to Harry as Isis is to Osiris. Together they conquer Hell and retire to the forest where their children inherit the legend of paradise regained.
A masterpiece of illusion that marked Peter Carey’s brilliant debut as a novelist