Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Candy by Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg

While perhaps best known for writing screenplays (Dr. Strangelove, Easy Rider, Casino Royale, etc), Terry Southern wrote several novels and essays. In the 50s he hung around in New York with the likes of Robert Frank, Larry Rivers, Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg, and so on. During that time he wrote a short story "about a girl in Greenwich Village who got involved with a hunchback because she was such a good Samaritan" (that particular description of it comes from this interview). Several people, including the poet Mason Hoffenberg, felt this girl should have more adventures, and the two began writing alternating chapters that grew into the novel Candy.

Candy is loosely based on Voltaire's Candide, written as a kind of spoof on the dirty books being published at the time. Candy Christian is a buxom teenager who more or less spends the novel being raped by various people, including her uncle. I realize this sounds horrific and offensive, but it somehow manages to be funny and zany in a dated 1960s sort of way. I was introduced to a number of ridiculous words for "vagina" that I'd never heard before, including "honeypot" and "lamb pit." And yet, I think I liked the book. One of my favorite lines:

"'Uh-huh,' said the cynical cop. 'Dr. Caligari, I suppose.'
Candy didn't like this kind of flippant reference to an art film."

1 comment:

  1. I have this book in great much do you think it is worth?