May 27, 2011
There are lots of stories about drug addiction out there. It’s a subject that will always attract readers because, while most people wouldn’t want to experience something like a heroin habit, many would want to understand why drug addicts find it so hard to give up. It’s also a topic ripe for fictionalisation, with its ready made tension between addiction and rehabilitation, crime and punishment, as well as the constant threat of death lurking in the background.
But while there many books that tackle the same issue, I couldn’t imagine a more authentic depiction of heroin addiction than Luke Davies’ Candy. Like the novel’s narrator, Davies had a smack habit for over a decade, and his hard won experience allows him to achieve a novel that is harrowing and poignant and overflowing with unmistakable truth. In Candy, there is no of the glorification of a sex and drugs and rock’n’roll counter-culture, no breaking of taboos, none of the mad freedom of Hunter S. Thompson or Jack Kerouac. Just a steady descent into addiction that destroys the lives of two beautiful young people. Read the rest of this entry »
December 5, 2010
As I was reading God of Speed, I tried not to think of the episode of The Simpsons that parodies Howard Hughes, when Mister Burns opens a casino, secludes himself on the top floor and becomes a germaphobe. Because it’s hard to engage with a novel when you’re picturing its protagonist like this:
It was a toss-up between this, or “Freemasons run the country”
Unfortunately for old Howard, there’s a fair bit of truth to this impersonation. He spent the last ten years of his life crippled by obsessive compulsive disorder, living in hotels and fleeing the tax collector. He was waited on by an army of Mormons, who were the only people he believed he could trust, and to whom he wrote instructions that were so exact they specified the number of Kleenex to use when picking up his hearing-aid, or how many inches to park from the curb.
For much of his life, though, Hughes was the king of the world, and he looked like this:
Handsome bastard. In addition to being really, really good looking, Hughes had more money than God, a Hollywood studio, multiple world air-speed records and bedded most of the famous, beautiful women of his era, including Katherine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Ava Gardner and Gene Tierney, to name but a few.
So what the hell happened to him? In God of Speed, Luke Davies attempts to get inside Hughes’ head to answer this question and explore the genius and madness of this icon of the 20th century. Read the rest of this entry »