Monday, September 3, 2012

"Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America" by Steve Almond

Age: Adult
Genre: Non-fiction, food & humor

When I saw the title of this book, I knew I had to read it because it sounded as if it could be my autobiography. I especially related to part three of "Some things you should know about the author," which reads "The author has between three and seven pounds of candy in his house at all times." I immediately catalogued my candy after reading that line and found it to be, perhaps sadly, true of myself. Almond's stories of insatiable cravings, failed attempts to eat baker's chocolate, and pining for long-gone candies (Mr. Melons anyone?) certainly seemed as if they could come from my own sugar-fueled journals. However, after a while Almond's book changes from his memoirs to detailed accounts of every candy factory he ever visited. Sure, these stories are kind of fun, but after the third or fourth one, I lost interest. I was hoping for more autobiography, less Food Network, I guess. I can respect that he wants to bring attention to the little guys in the candy world, but writing an entire book that focuses on candy factories starts to become a bit redundant. Towards the end, Almond describes what his intention for the book was when he writes, "I told him it was about candy bars. But I didn't know if I could explain what I was really getting at: that candy had been my only dependable succor as a child, that it had, in a sense, saved my life, that I hoped to draw a link between my personal nostalgia and the cultural yearning for a simpler age, but that, in the end, the laws of the candy world were the laws of the broader world: the strong survived, the weak struggled, people sought pleasure to endure pain." He succeeded in sharing these points, however he simply rambled on too long. This book could have been about 150 pages shorter and the message would have been more effective.

Bibliographical Information:
Almond, Steve. Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America. Harvest Books, 2005.

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