'For thirty-nine years Harry Joy has been the quintessential good guy. But one morning Harry has a heart attack on his suburban front lawn, and, for the space of nine minutes, he becomes a dead guy. And although he is resuscitated, he will never be the same. For, as Peter Carey makes abundantly clear in this darkly funny novel, death is sometimes a necessary prelude to real life.' (From the author's website.)
When Harry, an executive, suffers a heart attack, he experiences a brief moment of brain death, only to awaken with a far darker vision of the seemingly idyllic world that he's left behind. In quick succession, he learns that his wife is cheating on him, his son has become a drug dealer, and his daughter is a junkie. Even his perfect career has become a nightmare, as he discovers that his latest client is, in fact, a heartless, deadly polluter. Enraged, Harry is determined to live a morally righteous life, a notion that proves anathema to everyone around him.
'Harry Joy is the blessed Australian – a childhood of mystical innocence, a home stuffed with love, he brings a smile to all he meets. Then, one warm afternoon on the front lawn, he dies. It’s only for a few minutes – he’s revived. But the world he wakes to is changed; his wife, children and friends all now seem avaricious monsters. And so it dawns on Harry Joy: he hasn’t survived his heart attack at all. He is in Hell.
'Enter Honey Barbara, a hippy from the rainforest, wise to the ways of the big city. She and Harry melt back into the verdant bush, where their children tell a story of a Paradise Found. Found.' (Production summary)
'The University of Queensland Press was transformed from a merely scholarly into a creative independent Australian publisher partly through the agency of the American publisher Frank Thompson. In the explosive days of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and with Australians' complex fascination with United States, Thompson embodied the democratic challenge to the old British dominated regime on campus and in publishing circles. This paper will explore pivotal books published by UQP notably Thomas Shapcott's Contemporary American and Australian Poetry in 1976; UQP's development of the American market with the distribution of UQP literary fiction and the establishment of an American office; and co-publishing with American publishers and editing Australian books for American readers in a different hemisphere. Thompson's own assessment of his successes and failures will be contextualised in terms of political developments and those issues long associated with Australian literature - environmental representation and expatriatism.' (Author's abstract)