When I pick up any book for the first time, I always open it to a random point in the middle and begin reading. I’ve done this for years, and it’s always served as an accurate gauge to the level of writing the author is demonstrating. For the most part, every book is designed to begin with what’s called a “hook,” which is why most authors will always tell you in their workshops and seminars, “Always begin with action.” The idea, if it’s not obvious, is to suck the reader in to the point of purchase.
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 ass 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.
To buy “Candy” on Amazon click here