Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Candy: A Novel of Love and Addiction

Candy: A Novel of Love and Addiction

4.4 27
by Luke Davies

See All Formats & Editions

"Candy is beside me, drenched in sweat. She's breathing gently, long slow breaths. I imagine her soul going in and out: wanting to leave, wanting to come back, wanting to leave, wanting to come back. The day will soon harden into what we need to do. But for now we have each other. . . ."

He met Candy amid a lush Sydney summer. Gorgeous, sexy,


"Candy is beside me, drenched in sweat. She's breathing gently, long slow breaths. I imagine her soul going in and out: wanting to leave, wanting to come back, wanting to leave, wanting to come back. The day will soon harden into what we need to do. But for now we have each other. . . ."

He met Candy amid a lush Sydney summer. Gorgeous, sexy, free-spirited Candy. They fell in love fast, lots of laughter and lust, the days melting warmly into each other. He never planned to give her a habit. But she wanted a taste. And wasn't love, after all, about sharing lives? Candy had a bit of money and in the beginning, everything was beautiful. Heady, heroin-hazed days, the world open and inviting. But when the money ran out, the craving remained, and the days ceased their luxurious stretch.

But there was still love. Only now, it was a threesome. Heroin had its own demands, its own timetable, and thoughts of nabbing the next fix hurled them into each day. Then, when desperation sets in, Candy will stop at nothing to secure a blast, as she and her lover become hostage to the nightmarish world of addiction.

Painful, sexy, tender, and charged with dark humor, Candy provocatively charts the daily rituals of two lovers maintaining a long-term junk habit. Told in stunningly vivid prose and set against the backdrop of suburban and urban Australia, Candy is both an electrifying and frightening glimpse of contemporary life and love.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
I thought, "I'll read a couple of pages of this just to confirm that it's bad." I couldn't stop reading. When I did have to stop, I couldn't wait to get back to it. I felt a small measure of the narrator's compulsion in my own addicition to reading this book. Of course the topic is horrifying, but this was well-written. A great read for understanding the nightmares and rationalizations of the heroin addict.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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. (Aug.)
Candy, is an inspiring love story of co-dependency.
Paper Magazine
Kirkus Reviews
Debut fiction (subtitled A Novel of Love and Addiction) that triggers the same voyeuristic curiosity as a car wreck on the highway. This depressing tale of two Australian heroin junkies is hard to put down, even though it serves up enough bouts of blood, dingy needles, and heaving bowels to turn the hardiest stomach. Heroin is the first love, after all, of the aloof-guy narrator, who willingly shares some of his stash with his new girlfriend, Candy, a party-girl personality of little depth until book's end. The honeymoon stage of this relationship is brief. Focused on feeding their ravenous habits, the couple runs out of money and loses one apartment after another until Candy is forced into prostitution so they can afford to buy more drugs. Her guy pulls his own weight in less tangible ways, arranging deals and pick-up times, swiping food from convenience stores, stealing the occasional wallet, and racking up bills on stolen credit cards.

Earnest resolutions to quit are repeatedly scuttled as late-night TV gets tedious or a two-day hiatus from drugs tempts the addicts to treat themselves to just one more hit, and then another. When their veins cower so deep that it takes seven hours to find one suitable to inject, the narrator and his bride finally try weaning themselves from heroin with methadone. Painstaking withdrawal, though, coupled with relocation to a ramshackle farmhouse, fatally strains the relationship, and while the narrator has a fling with an 18-year-old, Candy suffers a nervous breakdown. When they finally manage to get off drugs, each does it separately. And their horrific dysfunctional marriage, fittingly, sputters to an end. Given the subject matter, it's nosurprise. This Australian poet's first novel—whatever its demons—proves addictive.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.82(w) x 11.66(h) x 0.65(d)

Read an Excerpt

There were good times and bad times, but in the beginning there were more good times. When I first met Candy: those were like the days of juice, when everything was bountiful. Only much later did it all start to seem like sugar and blood, blood and sugar, the endless dark heat.

But I guess the truth is, it didn't really take all that long for things to settle into a downward direction. It's like there's a mystical connection between heroin and bad luck, with some kind of built-in momentum factor. It's like you're cruising along in a beautiful car on a pleasant country road with the breeze in your hair and the smell of eucalyptus all around you. The horizon is always up there ahead, unfolding toward you, and at first you don't notice the gradual descent, or the way the atmosphere thickens. Bit by bit the gradient gets steeper, and before you realize you have no brakes, you're going pretty fucking fast.

So what did we do, once the descent began? We learned how to drive well, under hazardous conditions. We had each other to egg each other on. There was neither room nor need for passengers. Maybe also we were thinking that one day our car would sprout wings and fly. I saw that happen in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It's good to live in hope.

There was a time, after that Indian summer of our falling in love—after we'd gone through the money Candy's grandmother had left her, after we'd done a few scams and had a pretty good run for six months or a year—when we knew it would be good to slow down or stop and see where we were. It's funny how difficult that would turn out to be. It would be almost a decade before the car finally came to a silent stop on an empty stretch of road a long way down from where we'd started. Almost a decade before we'd hear the clicking of metal under the hood and the buzzing of cicadas in the trees all around us.

In that first year, Candy developed her first heroin habit. Like all the rest of us, no amount of words and warnings could prepare her for the horrors of drying out. So when we were forced to give it a go, she was a little shaken by the power of the thing.

This was in Melbourne for her. Candy grew up in Melbourne, and she went back there to dry out because we figured it would be too tempting to fuck up if we tried to do it together. It was her first habit, so she probably just needed a week at a friend's place with some good food and a trunk or two of pills.

I'd been gunning it now for a few years, so the plan for me was to go to detox for a while. I'd been getting this good brown Sri Lankan gear from my dealer T-Bar. There was lots of it, and everyone wanted it from me. It wasn't all that heavily refined—it wasn't the Thai white or even pink rocks. It was alkaline, and you could say rough as guts. But it was pretty pure, because three or four times a year it came into the country in condoms up T-Bar's arse. I stepped on it one-to-one with chocolate Quik, and still everybody was more than happy.

But Murphy's Law in the world of heroin said that if things could get out of control, then of course they would. T-Bar's brown was still in abundant supply, but I was starting to owe him more and more money, and he was getting pissed off with me. So I had some motivation to get things together in that department. I wasn't the world's greatest dealer. The simple equation was that the more dope I had, the more I used. I noticed that some of the people I sold to regularly were calling me less often; maybe I wasn't so reliable anymore. Detox seemed like the ideal opportunity for a breather.

The signs to stop were there. The plan was that Candy and I would link up in a week or two and be happy and healthy and maybe Candy would get pregnant. Then maybe we'd move to Melbourne, just to be on the safe side. Start a new life down there, away from the gear and all my Sydney connections.

Or maybe we could stay in Sydney and go back to hanging around with my old friends, my pot-smoking friends who held down jobs and went out on the weekends and seemed to enjoy their lives.

Mason Brown was one of these friends. Mason was six-foot-three, with a craggy face and sandy hair and a permanent grin. He loved his life like nobody I'd met before. He loved smoking buds and he only ever had the best, the lie-back-and-laugh stuff. He loved live music. He even loved—loved with a passion—his job as a field officer with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

We'd grown to like each other a couple of years earlier, when we'd done a lot of business and smoked a lot of bongs. Mason had stood by me as others started to avoid me. He was never one for getting moral. He got a little sad when he saw me fucking up. He never said anything stronger than, "You really ought to stop this shit." He bailed me out of little financial holes on several occasions, and never asked for the money back.

A few days before Candy left for Melbourne, we went out to see a band. Be social, be normal, have a bit of a preview of our life to come. There were lots of people I knew there, and a few of them gave me the dirty eyeball, and some of them spent a fair amount of time staring at Candy, who always stood out like a beacon of beauty.

Mason Brown was there. I hadn't seen him in a few months and we caught up on the news. After a while he gave me one of those searching looks and said, "So—you okay?"

I shrugged my shoulders.

"Things aren't too good, Mason," I said. "I've got to stop. I really like Candy too. But she won't put up with it. It's not going to last if I keep this up. I want to travel. I want to go overseas. I want to do things. I'm going nowhere. I just need to knock it on the head. Go back to smoking. I wish I could do it like you."

"You can, mate, you can."

Mason seemed to have a blind faith in me that even I found embarrassing.

"I'll tell you what," he added. "I'll do you a deal. Grow a crop with me. We plant it, we look after it, we sell it, we go halves. We'll sell in bulk, don't fuck around with small things. You'd know a buyer. We'll make some good bucks. You and Candy can travel for a year, see a bit of the world, have some experiences. Get that monkey off your back."

It was endearing and charming, the way Mason used the corniest old expressions. He even said "junk" sometimes, as in, "Keep off that junk and you'll be right, matey." But he got me going with dreams of solid cash and a bright future. And he was the bud man, the gardener. I couldn't go wrong doing a crop with Mason. I knew also that he could grow a good crop quite successfully without me. That he was trying to be a friend.

"It's September," he said. "It's time to plant. It's already a couple of weeks late. But let's do it. I'm willing to bring you in on the plan. But here's the catch." He looked at me sternly. "Tonight's Friday. Next Friday night, or Saturday dawn, we leave. I know the spot, I've been checking some maps. So you've got seven days to dry out. If you're fucked up, we don't go ahead with it."

I was stoned to the gills on the good Sri Lankan brown, so of course I could promise him the world. I was an endless reservoir of enthusiasm. We shook hands on it and I hugged him. "Good on ya, mate," we said to each other.

I found Candy in a crowd near the bar. I pulled her aside, bursting with the news.

"Guess what, sugarplum? We're going overseas, in a few months."

I quickly filled her in. She seemed pleased enough. She knew that Mason represented a healthier life, so something involving Mason and me was better than something involving me and my own brain.

Seven days to get off smack. A new life. No problem, with this in front of me. I could do it on my head. The very thought of a successful detox made me feel warm and relaxed. I went to the toilet and found a cubicle with a lock that worked and had a nice blast to celebrate. Then I went outside to enjoy the band.

The next day I still had a gram of T-Bar's dope and some money to give him, and it's not like I was about to flush the gear down the toilet or anything. I'll make Saturday a good one to go out on, I thought. Things drifted into Sunday, and Candy and I were getting sad about leaving each other for a week, so I gave T-Bar his money and got two more grams on credit. We sold a bit and used a bit.

On Monday we had our last blasts, several times, and we caught a cab to the bus depot for one of those sad and tawdry Greyhound good-byes.

"Hang in there, Candy," I murmured as we hugged. "When we see each other next week we'll both be feeling fine. Just get through this week, that's all."

"You too," she said. "Don't fuck up."

"Don't worry," I said, "I've had my last shot too."

"I love you."

"I love you."

But the bus pulled out and we waved good-bye and suddenly I could feel the magnetic force of T-Bar's house dragging at the iron filings in my stomach.

As long as I stop by Tuesday night, then I should be half okay by Friday night, I reasoned to myself.

By Tuesday I decided I might as well just keep using, get the crop planted, then go to a proper detox (which was the original plan) next week (which wasn't). I decided I would have a big hit just before we left early Saturday morning, and leave my dope at Mason's house, and white-knuckle it for twenty-four hours as a test of strength. I'd grit my teeth and be helpful and agile for Mason, and I wouldn't have small pupils, or nod off and have him cancel the whole deal.

So it was business as usual Wednesday and Thursday and Friday. At some point I called Candy, who was sick, and told her I wouldn't be far behind. She was a little pissed off at my lack of stamina, but I assured her that I really just wanted to concentrate on the crop business for the time being, and that things would be fine, whatever the timetable.

Friday came and I organized to meet Mason at the pub where one of his favorite bands was playing. I hit up some coke before I met him so my pupils weren't too small. I told him I was feeling okay and that I'd gotten through the week. I smoked joints with him on the fire stairs and drank lots of beers as if to back up my story.

We got home to his place about one a.m. I was pretty drunk and we pulled some cones and I really could have done with a big sleep. Mason set the alarm for a quarter to five and said, "We're out the door by five-fifteen, okay?"

I figured the beginning of a business venture must be the hardest part.

Mason shook me awake when he got out of the shower at five to five.

"Coffee's on. Jump in the shower."

I took all my stuff into the bathroom and locked the door. The Sri Lankan gear was alkaline, so I'd gotten a slice of lemon at the bar in the pub, wrapped it in a tissue, and stuffed it into my shirt pocket. It was a bit dry and stiff now but it would have to do. I put the water and the heroin and a drop of lemon in the spoon and heated the mix and whacked it up.

I could have stayed in that fucking shower for hours. I'd had a real lot of heroin, thinking of the twenty-four hours ahead. It was a massively peak experience, drifting under that jet of water. Mason banged on the door and shook me out of the silver heat and dream-steam.

"It's ten past five. What are you doing in there?"

I dried myself, dressed, and walked out into the kitchen.

"Sorry, Mason," I groaned, "I'm a bit hungover."

The kitchen's fluorescent was very bright. I shielded my eyes.

I took my coffee upstairs to the spare room and hid my syringe and spoon and dope under the bed. I felt a twinge of nervousness leaving it there, but I knew it would be good to have it to come back to. I felt certain I could make it through a day or a day and a half.

We were away at twenty-five past. It was dark and the streets were empty, so we had a good run northwest through Sydney. Mason was thoroughly prepared. His sawed-off animal of a pickup truck was loaded down with hoes and shovels and star posts and chicken wire, brown and green spray paint, fertilizers, cooking gear, and sleeping bags and a tent. His professional attitude was reassuring to one in such a dissolute state. I felt I was in the hands of a winner. I told him I needed to sleep and I closed my eyes and enjoyed the stone.

Meet the Author

Luke Davies was born in Sydney in 1962. He has worked variously as a truck driver, teacher, and journalist. His collection of poetry Absolute Event Horizon was shortlisted for the 1995 Turnbull Fox Phillips poetry prize.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Candy: A Novel of Love and Addiction 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I saw the film version of 'Candy' on a Qantas flight from Los Angeles to Sydney and thought it was very good. While in Sydney, I saw this book in the bookshop of State Library of New South Wales and decided to buy it. The book goes into far more detail than is possible in the film. I found the author's description of addiction and recovery to be very interesting and recommend it to anyone who is interested in this sort of story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is amazing. ive read many books on herion and i'd have to say this is the best yet. it describes so much about the drug and feeling you get. also how you feel and what its like going through withdrawl, all the pain. its a thrill to read, ive read it many times..i recommend this book to everyone who has an interest in drug-related books. However, this book is not only about the drug, it talks about another kind of love, a love about a girl named candy, hit the title. This girl has entered his world of drugs and the share many of the same experiences. its marvolous the way this book is written.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has moved me more than any other book i have ever read. This book was amazing. Funny, i almost wanted to experience everything that the narrator describes. I feel that i could read this book over and over and never get bored of it...i have re-read the ending about 4 times already and i still cry every single time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I couldn¿t put this book down. I have never read a book on heroine that was so realistic. It was like you were there with them living their lives. He wrote it like a piece of art. This book deserves no less than 5 stars; Luke Davies inspires one to write.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The novel takes you into heaven and hell of the narrators life. Love, lust, sex, poetry, betrayal, violence, addiction, are just a few of the themes in the book to say the least. Its an absolute page turner from cover to cover. A must read. My favortie book ever, i've read it three times - this is the only book i've ever read more than once. Nuff said.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the finest heroin novel I have read. Candy asserts what many of us know to be true, but which most will never admit: the passion for dope is identical to the love a man or woman feels for a woman or man. For a person's solitary experience with drugs--unparalleled highs paid for with unavoidable crashes--mimics in an enormous way the necessary conflicts which form any human relationship. An examination of one lends a provocative insight on the other. Davies gives us this examination, in a delicious prose that a reader devours as heartily on page 300 as on page 1. Luke Davies' Candy thoroughly covers the sizable terrain between William Burroughs' Junky and Andrew Mcgahan's Praise. Do not talk to me about drugs if you have not done them yourself, or if you have not read Candy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Luke Davies shines as the author of this eerily true sounding narration of two lovers caught in a web of drug use and abuse. The story grabbed me in the first sentence and I read it in one night. I was absolutely spellbound by the horrific accounts of heroin addiction, the prostitution and disease that accompanies it, and ultimately the death of an innocent party...Brilliantly written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"you just leak away. And if your lucky,then one night in the silence, in the deep heart of the dark, you'll hear the distant trickling of blood in your veins." and I could go on on and on with these moments that put you right there with him and Candy. For sure a brilliant read about love, escape and addiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A little repetitive at times but certainly a page turner to say the least.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lisa Gullett More than 1 year ago
read this way before it went to the big screen. suspensful and deep. not for the squimish. don't reccomend the movie but the book is amazing!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book. It kept me interested the whole way through. Def. one of the best books I have ever read. You should def. go out and buy this book and read it. AWESOME AWESOME book
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books ever, aside from Glue by Irvine Welsh. However these two book show the rise and falls of topics that appeal in our everyday lives. I advise everyone to read this book, you'll be disappointed if you decline...