From the Archives, 1982: Carey finds Bliss

Carey won the Premier’s Literary Award, worth $5,000 for his second collection of short stories, War Crimespublished in 1979.

His first collection, The Fat Man in Historywas published five years earlier, but three failed novels reside in a drawer at home — and he said he now intends to burn them.

Imaginative and idiosyncratic … The 1st edition of the book.

Peter Carey was born in the country in Victoria, the son of a car salesman whose family, he says scraped to save enough to send him to Geelong Grammar. He failed English Literature in his matriculation examinations.

He went to Monash University to study science with the idea of ​​becoming a chemist but decided after three weeks to become a zoologist instead because “zoologists were wonderful people who went to the pub, got drunk and had an amusing life.”

He did that, and fell in love and had a car accident, and failed the first year.

A scene from the 1985 film.

A scene from the 1985 film.

He says he got his education in an advertising agency, where two other copywriters were writing novels on the side. Both became top writers: Morris Lurie and Barry Oakley.

Along the path to fame he spent three years living in an alternative community at Yandina, near Nambour, Queensland, but commuted to Sydney for a week each month to work in advertising (he is responsible, among other things, for the slogan “You make us smile, Dr Lindeman”).

He has written a movie script for a yet-to-be produced Adams-Packer film entitled Spanish Pink, and is co-author of another movie script.

He lives with a painter Margot Hutcheson, and next month they will move to a small farm at Bellingen, for a quiet life in a corrugated iron and masonite house by the Never Never River. He says he will write, grow things, raise chickens — but he will also commute to Sydney to his advertising agency.

An author who knows Carey described him yesterday as “amusing, quiet, not much for pubs.”

The Melbourne-based filmmaker, columnist and advertising executive Phillip Adams said: “He’s an enigma, a mulga Woody Allen. He’s also the best advertising copywriter for the print media in Australia — he just writes beautiful prose. A pox on his Miles Franklin award.”

In 1983, producer Anthony Buckley optioned the rights and obtained financing for a screen version with a screenplay by Carey and Ray Lawrence. Lawrence, an advertising colleague of Carey, also directed the film.


Bliss won the Best Film, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay Awards at the 1985 AFI awards and was also nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes, despite a number of people walking out during its first screening there.

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