Thursday, October 4, 2007

Candy Freak

The promise of "Candy Freak", by the appropriately-named Steve Almond (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2004) was much like unwrapping a jumbo size Sugar Daddy caramel pop : toothsome at the outset, somewhat cloying in the middle, and ultimately an unsatisfying oversaturation.

The subject is certainly interesting. Who doesn't want to relive childhood sugar rush memories? Almond's writing was breezy, informative and packed with interesting sidebars about obscure candies and the Willie Wonkas that manufacture them, but there was also too much filler about his angst over his relationship with his father and often tedious information about candy factory machinery and marketing strategies.

Where "Candy Freak" succeeded was in the author's unadulterated passion for candy and its many permutations. He could also be flat out funny. I picked up the book while on vacation this summer and read large passages while sipping white wine on my hotel's street side porch. (Literary correctness dictates that I should have been stirring a chocolate soda with a peppermint stick, but I needed a restorative libation). I snorted a large measure of Sauvignon Blanc off the hotel balcony while reading the following passage:

I have been endowed with one of those disgusting metabolisms that allow me to eat at will. To physiologists, I am a classic ectomorph, though my ex-girlfriends have tended to gravitate toward the term scrawny. The downside of this metabolic arrangement is that I am a slave to my blood sugar. If I don't eat for too long, I start thinking about murdering people, and I am inexorably drawn toward fats and carbs. I hate most vegetables, particularly what I call the evil brain trio--broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts--which tastes, to me, like flatulence that has been allowed to blossom.
Recommended reading for fellow candy freaks and candy company executives, but unfortunately not a sweet read overall.

No comments: