- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books (June 16, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0345423879
- ISBN-13: 978-0345423870
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 139 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #367,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Candy: A Novel of Love and Addiction Paperback – June 16, 1998
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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.
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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The best of his intentions or hopes always led to the same place when Heroin was the main part of the equation. I kept finding myself asking if this was a story about love trying to survive in spite of Heroin or love existing because of the shared love of Heroin.
Maybe it was a twisted love, of co-dependency and the fuel one addict gives to another in an endless cycle but not the sacrificial love that endures time and pain. As with all things involving an addict his love for Candy was blurred. He may have loved Candy but she was also a means to an end providing money and Heroin which fed his addiction and hers. The addiction so strong that he became blind to the irreparable damage the lifestyle was leaving inside Candy. Therein lay the reason the book was so realistic, almost nothing was black and white, even his love for Candy.
There are some small character gaps that in part can be explained by the oblivion and confusion of Heroin but not entirely. He spends most of his time reading books but lacks basic knowledge that for most well read people are second nature. Descriptions such as "The indelible traceries of physics" are intertwined with a certain level of density that were incongruent. Also, the justice system in Australia may have been very different 15 years ago or just different in general from the states but he somehow eluded anything more than a few days in jail which seemed unrealistic given his pension and lack of savvy at criminal enterprise.
- The Movie (Spoilers)
This was one of the first times I have read a book after watching the movie. Also, one of the first times I enjoyed the movie more than the book. In the movie there is no question of Dan and Candy's love or of sacrifice. No question that Dan does not want this life for Candy but he is this life. The secondary characters in the movie were tightly put together and in the book they are scattered and at times unnecessary. Also one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in the book and movie are close to ruined by Dan's response to the cremation or burial. "Can't you just throw it out?"
Regarding "Candy," I did not have this option. The first 13 pages were missing, and then another 40 or so subsequent pages, randomly torn out by the last reader. The eventual pitfall of purchasing books on Amazon, I'm afraid, and so Davies' writing was put to the random entry point test in every instance of another four or five or six missing pages. There's no complex way of saying this: Davies can write his a$$ off, and he will suck you in even under the less than ideal circumstances of omitted pages and fragmentation.
"Candy" is exactly what it says it is on the cover: a story of love and addiction. Naturally, one's mind jumps to the other two big junk novels in natural comparison, "Requiem for a Dream" and "Trainspotting," but where Selby Jr. makes the reader crawl through his poor formatting choices and Welsh culture shocks our eyes and minds with Gaelic, it's Davies that gives us the most accessible text with his smooth and dreamy prosaic style, submerging the reader in warm pools of joy and harsh junkie sickness.
Out of the three, "Requiem" still reigns king, but only in regards to its film adaptation.
Davies' "Candy" accurately conveys the junkie lifestyle, its swelling highs and desperate lows more poignantly than I've ever had the pleasure of reading. This is a story of perceived love, but mainly it is a struggle between two people and their ability to connect when chemicals aren't involved. They scam and steal and sell themselves all in the name of love, but it's a love that steadily decays them with every injection. They are aware of the consequences, yet, continue to push the proverbial envelope in the name of devotion, a devotion not necessarily to each other.
There is joy in this novel, hope that is both realized and unrealized, and by the end you've been run ragged by these experiences. "Candy" does everything a novel is supposed to, and by way of a the man-woman-junk dynamic, a few things I haven't seen before.
Great read. Highly recommend.
Luke Davies writes an insightful, powerful novel that anyone can appreciate. This is a unique opportunity to try and understand how this can happen and what takes place when it does. Mr. Davies takes the secrecy out of the disease and allows us to see what has been for so long taboo. This is not easy subject matter, and some people may be put off by the content. This is a thorough exposure of a heroin addict's world. You can not imagine what they have to go through to maintain their habit. They scam, they steal and they do things they never believed they would ever do. It is revealing, funny, sensitive and maddening. Events occur that only happen because of their addiction, and they remain helpless to it. They make promises to quit, they want to quit, they try to quit, but they continue a spiral that is out of control. Everything changes but everything stays the same. Eventually they each must face the reality of sobriety, for as everyone knows, what goes up must eventually come down.