Trevor's Reviews > Bliss

Bliss by Peter Carey
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175635
's review
May 10, 14

really liked it
bookshelves: literature

So - a friend of mine is going to Greece soon and a friend of his collects honey and I tried some and told her it was the nicest honey I had ever tried (which was true - no exaggeration at all). My friend leaves next week and I thought it would be nice to send over a book with him to the honey collector. BUT, and I struggle to believe this is true, this book is out of print in Australia. This isn't a book by What's His Face No Name - this is Bliss by Peter Carey! What other nation does this to their authors? Really, I'm quite ashamed about this. I walked the city on Friday looking for a copy of this book. In the end I just went into bookshops to shame them. I've had to send the book by mail order from Ireland, of all places. What other book could you possibly send a honey collector, though, if you were to send one from Australia?

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Previous review

A very dear friend of mine once wrote to me, after my sending this book to her, to say that this book was flawed. She is probably right, but there are so many things that I love about it I would forgive it almost anything.

Firstly, it has one of the greatest opening sentences in lit history (okay, so I'm prone to gross exaggeration) - something like, 'Harry Joy was to die three times, but it was his first death that left the most lasting impression on him'. I think Harry Joy is a wonderful name for a character.

The story, in extreme short version and only the very start - is a man has a heart attack and dies. Prior to dying he had the perfect life, wife who loved him, two beautiful kids, job he loves, friends ... and so on. They bring him back to life and he finds, believes, he has actually died and gone to hell. His wife is having an affair, his kids are drug dealers and prostitutes and so on and so forth - everything is the same, nothing is the same.

There is a character in this that writes letters he never sends to companies he works for telling them he knows they are evil. Dear god, please do not make that character be me.

It is the end of this book that I love the most - a single image at what is close to the very end that has stayed with me forever and ever - Harry's love letter that took seven years to deliver. Now, there is a beautiful thing.
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Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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notgettingenough Have you seen the movie, Trevor? I haven't, but reading about it today tempts me. Apparently hundreds of people walked out on it at its debut at Cannes, so it must have something going for it. It sounds like a great director got severely punished for offending popular morality, Lawrence had to wait 16 years before he got to do another movie and then it was a corker: Lantana.


Trevor The movie convinced me to read the book - the movie is probably better than the book, in many ways. But it is a long, long time since I have seen it. I really love Lantana - they are probably my two favourite Australian films. Gosh, that is a big statement, but other than a short film called The Butcher's Son which I saw only once on the ABC years ago, it is probably right.


notgettingenough Trevor wrote: "175635 The movie convinced me to read the book - the movie is probably better than the book, in many ways. But it is a long, long time since I have seen it. I really love Lantana - they are probably my two favourite Australian films. Gosh, that is a big statement, but other than a short film called The Butcher's Son which I saw only once on the ABC years ago, it is probably right."

That IS a big statement! There are so many good Australian films, lots of them on tiny budgets made on a wing and a prayer. I'm not even going to try working out what my favourites are, but for The Boys (starring David Wenham), which if forced to pick my 'best movie ever' would be it.


notgettingenough It is starting to seem to me that being a director must be a tough beat. I notice that the director of The Boys had to wait 7 years before getting to do Little Fishes, which I thought was really quite a good movie. Nothing since.


message 5: by Scribble (new) - added it

Scribble Orca I loved the film too (but I'm sure I saw it when I was way to young to understand everything) and it was the way I arrived at the book, as well. Lovely review, Trevor (this must be one of your shortest ones?).


Trevor Written when I first joined. Before I became insanely verbose. :)


message 7: by Scribble (new) - added it

Scribble Orca Erm...you mean before you were just sanely so? :P

I'm rummaging around your shelves and enjoying some of these early offerings - of course, the latter reviews are very welcome, too!


message 8: by Riku (new)

Riku Sayuj Beautiful review, Trevor! Bliss is the perfect life. Not.


message 9: by Lynda (new)

Lynda Loved this review, Trevor. So enjoy your interpretation of fiction. Giving a sigh of bliss! :-)


Trevor Thanks Lynda and Riku - this is my favourite Carey, so I was very upset that I couldn't find it anywhere. I wrote this review very early in my good reads life - six years or so ago now. It flies in, doesn't it?


message 11: by Aubrey (new) - added it

Aubrey Your story of the unfortunate out of print business is a reason why I get all my books from library sales. Including this one!


George Thanks mate...book just received!


Trevor Wonderful - my love to Maria.


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