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Candy: A Novel of Love and Addiction Paperback – June 16, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Since Trainspotting, heroin chic has certainly put down literary roots?sometimes it seems that you can't be a hip writer unless you know your way around a needle. Perhaps none has chronicled the mechanics of addiction in such mind-numbing detail as Australian poet Davies (Absolute Event Horizon) does in this strong if unimaginative first novel: Davies concentrates as much on preferred syringes as on the adventure of getting the smack, which makes the novel seem, sometimes, like Consumer Reports for junkies. The Candy of the title is both the woman that the narrator falls in love with and, of course, the stuff that he takes. Candy's degradation, from beautiful actress to call girl to streetwalker to madwoman, mirrors the narrator's own passage from a sort of smart-aleck cuteness to the monster whose main concern is finding a viable vein to prick. Starting out in Sydney, the couple moves to Melbourne to go straight but, of course, relapse. They engage in a tedious round of finding money and finding smack, in which all other attachments become peripheral. The narrator's habit of viewing these events from a distance strikes the right chord, but it's a monotone, insights notwithstanding: "Veins are a kind of map, and maps are the best way to chart the way things change. What I am really charting here is a kind of decay." The result is a more harrowing than the usual return to a familiar landscape of admonishment and self-negation.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Like Trainspotting, Candy depicts heroin addicts in a British subculture, but it is set in Australia, not Scotland. "Candy" is the slang name of the unnamed narrator's two great loves: his girlfriend and heroin. He introduces her to the drug, and they descend from being high on life, love, and drugs, to being shamed through prostitution, crime, addiction, and recovery. With no character background, the book reads as a string of scams to score money and heroin: some hilarious, some desperate, and some both at once. One scam starts when they answer a ringing public phone that the caller mistakenly believes is a suicide prevention line. Candy and the narrator are ruthless but human; their likableness and the immediacy of their dramas make them sympathetic even when pathetic. The writing is lean and strong but offers no resolution. Although that reflects junkies' reality, sometimes the pacing is jarring as the characters take action long after the audience is ready. Still, the good writing, realistic portrayal, and affable characters plunge readers into the junkies' world, safely returning them with veins intact. Kevin Grandfield

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (June 16, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345423879
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345423870
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #346,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Schtinky VINE VOICE on August 7, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I picked up this book to read before going to sleep one night, and wound up not stopping until I finished at 3AM. Luke Davies has written a completely absorbing tale of a spiraling journey into the night of addiction.

I am a horror aficionado, enjoyer of the ripening decay of flesh, bone, and blood; but in Candy there is a different Monster, a stealthy beast formed from powdery particles that feeds upon the very soul of man, tearing apart mind and spirit long before its teeth sink into the flesh.

So poignantly told in first person perspective, I was so deeply moved by this sad, bittersweet tale of innocent love that I was desperate to see the sun come up in the morning, though for a moment I doubted it would.

Rarely am I as deeply moved by a story as I was by Candy, and rarer still is an author who can breathe such animated life into his character. How can I possibly care about this guy, a junkie who steals and scams allows his wife to work as a prostitute while he nods in front of the TV all night? How can I care about Candy, who goes from aspiring actress to thousand dollar a day escort to street-hooking in the projects?

But I wound out caring a LOT, staying by them just as they stayed by each other, through all the highs and the bitter lows. Their love for each other is immense, innocent, and touching; making you believe just as they did that love can conquer all.

The book follows approximately ten years of their lives, from high-end apartments, to projects, to a run down farm in the country; through crimes and arrests and prostitution; through love and marriage and the loss of a baby; through the languid highs and the horrors of trying to kick the habit; Davies makes you actually feel their love, and their pain.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By daniel thomas on October 27, 2003
Format: Paperback
I am a narcotics prosecutor in the US who deals with this problem on a daily basis. I have friends who have ruined their lives and others who seem to funtion to a point. This book is the real deal and should be read by anyone concerned with or just wants to educate themselves. If someone you care about has this problem, the book will not help you help them. It will give you an idea of what you are up against. There is always hope and education is a powerful tool. I purchased copies of this book and distributed it to my entire narcotics unit with the hope that compassion will coincide with enforcement.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By bob on February 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
Candy is an excellent and compelling story well told. The honesty is brutal and beautiful. Being a heroin user, I found it interesting to hear another's story. Although my story is very different, it was very clear to me that the author knew what he was talking about. One of the books assets is it's tragi-comic nature, something I've found very true in junkie life, and rarely mentioned when discussing heroin. I suppose my only concern is a personal one, in that my father read the book and presumed my life was the same, which it is not. (I've been a relatively good middle class junkie, no crime etc.) The book has been well edited. It is tight and lean. There is not a wasted word, which makes for good reading. Clearly Luke Davies walks it like he talks it. A brave book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Marie on August 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
I would like to start off this providing a warning to any drug addicts, especially heroin addicts, who are trying to stay clean: this book is a serious possible trigger. I speak from experience. HOWEVER, that being said, Candy is such a great book that I just kept reading it, even after I realized what I difficult thing it would be for me to read. It is a touching love story really, a tangle between three entities: the main character, his girlfriend (Candy), and heroin (probably the REAL main character). The story is painfully realistic, following the co-dependent, totally strung out, couple through boughts of excrutiating dope sickness, running endless scams to obtain money, several sad attempts at getting clean, and Candy's unwanted career as a prostitute. And through Davies' skilled writing, your bones will ache with every leg cramp the sick pair gets, your body shake with their waves of nausea; and you will feel their relief when they eventually inject the necessary cure into their tired veins, heroin. And in the end, you will find yourself wishing that their relationship will somehow mend itself, even in the face of so much evidence that their lives depend on being apart. Then, if you are like me, you will pray for a sequel--and count your blessings.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Buttercup on May 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
I just finished reading Candy about an hour ago. Definitely worth the read and I think quite addictive itself. Some thoughts......

Although the novel describes a drug which most people will never experience, and are indeed afraid of, its basic theme goes beyond this. The impulse to seek pleasure and avoid pain is a very fundamental human need, and heroin is simply a powerful means to this end. Everyone does this in some way, whether it be healthy, addictive or otherwise. As such, it is impossible to disengage totally from the characters and their struggle for and against the drug. You can't just dismiss them as junkies.

With regard to the Publishers Weekly Review above, I think Davies' "mind-numbing" detail of the "mechanics of addiction" serves two purposes. Firstly, it represents the narrator's inability to analyse or express his feelings about using heroin. He can only concentrate on the "how" and not the "why" of shooting up. Secondly, it lends credibility to the story without isolating the reader. Davies' knowledge of heroin and its usage is convincing, and his painstaking detail and explanations allow the reader to peer into a relatively foreign world with some degree of understanding.

This is an emotional read, and one that will creep into your subconcious thoughts. It is sometimes heartbreakingly sad but also in parts wryly funny. Highly recommended.
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