Are you interested in what life is like for younger folks in relatively-contemporary Shanghai? Do you like reading confusing novels that follow around a group of drug addicts and alcoholics? Do you like never having any idea who is narrating or what the time frame is or basically any idea what the fuck is going on? If so, you’d likely love Candy by Mian Mian.
“It was more important than anything else in the world. Heroin was the only thing in my life. My junkie life was simple, but at the same time it wasn’t easy.”
This is a unique book, I’ll give it that, and it did somehow manage to hold my attention despite the fact that I never really had any idea what was going on. These were some seriously privileged folks who survived by begging for money from their parents and didn’t contribute much to society.
“Each and every one of us who lived on that street had been absolutely convinced that we could never become junkies. But we all succumbed in the end. We could never be sure if the heroin we were taking every day was really heroin or not. But our lives had become completely transformed, until we were living like vampires.”
This isn’t a book with a happy ending. At least, I don’t think it is. Once again, I was never 100% sure who was narrating or what was going but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t end well. It’s the sort of book where I wanted to call up the author and ask her what her intention was. Taken as a glimpse into the confusion of being a drug addict and alcoholic, well, I can speak from first-hand experience that when I was actively drinking and using, my thoughts were pretty much always a jumble and I rarely knew what the fuck was going on. So, you know, bravo if that was the point of the book. Somehow I don’t think it was.
I can think of a few people I’d recommend this book to, notably those who are particularly interested in Chinese literature or those who like experimental literature. For me, I’m glad I read it, I think the voice was unique, but I prefer a different type of narrative flow.