In this novel, which many people consider to be his best, Morley Callaghan displays his usual insight into human relationships and weaknesses, and questions the conventional morality of the Canadian community. More Joy in Heaven is the story of Kip Caley, an ex-criminal, intent of becoming a useful and honourable human being. His struggle with himself and with a society which will not let him regain his human dignity is presented with great perception and sympathy.
Sometimes I wonder if it is worth reading the introduction on some of these novels. Or maybe I should wait and read it afterwards. However, for this novel I read the introduction before digging into the narrative and so I felt like I knew too much going in. I knew for certain that things were not going to end well for Kip Caley, the reformed criminal and lead in Callaghan’s “powerful and moving story of an ex-criminal’s struggle for regeneration.”
By “certain” I mean this wasn’t just a hunch, this is a Canadian novel after all.
I suspect that even if I hadn’t read the introduction I still would have read More Joy in Heaven with a large knot in the pit of my stomach.
For someone who was really good at robbing banks, Caley seemed awfully innocent and rather dumb – although naive would probably be the more appropriate word. The story illustrates how there are many different types of criminals – some legal – and many different types of crimes; like using one man’s redemption to make yourself feel better. It’s a hard read. It’s hard to watch Caley’s faith in himself crumble. It’s hard to read about his naive choices when sometimes he is so close to making the right choice. In the end it is hard to watch him fall and have those he cares about fall with him.
To sum up this is probably the most stereotypical “Canadian Lit” novel so far on this list. There was no hope at the end! Every thing was bleak and I kind of wanted to just lay in bed and cry for days at the waste of humanity. It was, in a word, fantastic.
Death Toll: Two. Main characters. Proudly Canadian.