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VINE VOICEon August 7, 2004
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. I am not a crier, but I almost did after Candy, the ache I felt inside was so huge and hopeless that it left me weak with sadness.

With all the emotion spilling out from the pages, remember to prepare yourself for some rough scenes; like graphic descriptions of vein hunting and needle usage, along with a disgusting crab lice incident that almost made me hurl.

Plain and simple, this is a `Wow' book; an all-nighter so well written you will feel that you just stayed up with your old friend, listening to him pour out his heart to you. Very highly recommended.

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on October 27, 2003
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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on February 8, 2000
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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on August 10, 2003
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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on May 23, 2006
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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on May 26, 2009
it's almost difficult for me to put into words how incredibly beautiful and tragic this novel is. there is no book out there.. no movie.. that demonstrates so accurately the mind and life of a heroin addict. there were times i felt davies was telling my story, that he had reached into my mind and memories and put them on paper. i've read this novel so many times now and i still continue to because there is a peace in knowing you are not alone with your experiences. please do not judge the actions of a junkie unless you have lived in their shoes. the book, even in it's genius, cannot fully convey what it is really and truly like. the descriptions are perfection but as davies explains, unless you are in the withdrawals it's quite easy to forget it's pain.. i laughed out loud numerous times. felt deeply connected. reminisced and ultimately was grateful to no longer be in that hopeless, hellish and yet deeply beautiful place. best book ever.
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on August 9, 2005
Other reviewers have discussed how realistically this novel portrays addition to opiates. I agree totally. The wild life of searching for drugs, using drugs, recovering from the drugs and then recycling back into the search for drugs is perfectly described.

There are two themes in the book however that are of high interest. The first is the way time, both short term and long term, is changed and distorted by addiction. Davies does a very good job of showing life melting away, year after year, with no accomplishments or benchmarkes when a person is addicted to opiates.

The second theme, which is actually the theme of the entire book, is that opiates kill psychological pain. Why were these young lovers so amazingly drug hungry? Gradually we come to understand that Candy's extremely high anxiety over never meeting her mother's expectations has turned her into a clock that has been wound too tight. Opiates dissolve her anxiety, her anger, her painful memories. Likewise, the narrarator also has the pain of the lose of his core family with the death of his mother and his father's abandonment of parental responsibility. There is a reason someone is drug hungry, and this reason perpetuates the addiction. Those reasons emerge like angry ghosts when the drugs are withdrawn because they have festered and boiled while left alone in the soul.

Candy dissolves in this story. She moves from young actress to call girl and then she loses her mind. We never really know her when she is addicted. We know about her genitals and her sexual habits, but we never really know her until the drugs start to dry up and the angry little girl inside Candy emerges along with her drug craving. We don't know her until she is under pressure and then we see her gradually fall apart.

I was entertained by all the drug chasing and sexual adventures but in the end this is a very sad story. A story about how humans will seek oblivion rather than experience pain. I am not judging, maybe some day I will be in great psychological or physical pain and I will also seek oblivion, the nothing, timelessness.
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on February 27, 2002
This book amazed me, plain and simple. It pulls you in from the very first chapter, and doesn't let go until the last sentence of the epilogue.
Following the narrator and his girlfriend, Candy, you're taken on a trip through the gripping worlds of heroin addiction, sex, mental illness, and ultimately, desperation. They start off pulling scams and hocking valuables, but more is never enough, and Candy turns to prostitution. This gradually creates a riff in their relationship, as Candy feels it's unfair that she should be the sole provider of a reward they share equally, and they begin cooking their own heroin. (It should be noted that the process of making heroin is described in great detail; Luke Davies obviously knows his stuff.)
So believable (and likable, even) are the characters, that you find yourself rooting for them on their unrelenting quest to find a comfortable spot between sobriety and addiction while keeping their relationship intact. Davies balances perfectly the three-way love between the narrator, Candy, and heroin.
This book is at once darkly humorous, painful, romantic, terrifying- all those cliche words used to describe a masterpiece such as this. An absolute must read.
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on December 15, 1999
I came across this book when i found out my partner was using heroin. it helped me to understand what being a junkie is all about. before reading this book i thought that junkies chose to be junkies but after reading candy i found my opinion changed. Candy will help the reader understand that being a heroin junkie is more like a desease. they have NO choice. Luke Davis is an excellent writer. i have a poetry book of his also wich is not dissapionting. Candy changed my life forever. it made me learn and i am a true believer that once you learn something you can't unlearn it. this truely is the closest you'll ever read about heroin in Australia in a novel! Read it once and i'll be surprised if you don't want to read it again or pass it on to friends ect. a must have book for the open minded. if you have any questions or the same thoughts or other recomendations please email me
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on September 22, 1998
I read Candy when I was living in Australia (I am an Australian citizen), and was shocked by the fact no one I knew in the States had read it. Then I tried to find it here, and understood why none of my friends have read it. Being a first novel, being written by an Australian, and being set in Australia, I guess I may have been asking too much to expect to see it in US book stores.
This is however, an exceptional novel. I have never seen the heroin and drug scene portraid so honestly. The reader feels the addiction and pain of experiencing a life that is one moment pure agony, and the next excruciating joy. This novel provides a particularly important depiction of the drug culture, because it is neither condemnatory nor glorifying. It reminds us (well it did me at least) that we all have addiction in our life (if not pharmecuetical then an addiction to love, friendhsip or recognition). This is not an inherently evil thing, it merely makes a happy or stable life difficult.
I was most impressed by Davies' ability to portray male identity and sexuality in such an honest light. I remember hearing an interview on Radio National in Australia, where a critic stated that it was the most honest attempt to show how males really approach life and relationships. That may sound kind of depressing (the protagonist being a junky and all), but the reference is to the protagonist's attempt to find love and happiness, and his failures and successes in realising this.
I hope that this foreshadows a new move for new literature. I sure have had enough of the grunge/Gen X/hopelessness garbage that has been attempting to ape Easton-Ellis style realism. Books of that ilk litter the bookshelves of both Australia and America. Bring on Davies and his attempt to actually offer some catharsis and hope.
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