Banned Book Week Tastes Forbidden “Candy!” “Wednesday’s Bookmobile” Has Fascinating “Candy Men” To Talk Obscenity And Literature!

“Candy” By Maxwell Kenton!

61 years ago, the sex farce known as “Candy” shocked the world when published in France and immediately became a worldwide scandal.

Since this is “banned book week”, my Wednesday Bookmobile travels overseas to show how two Writers, using the assumed name of Maxwell Kenton, created a pop culture masterpiece.

Here’s a look at the book, written by Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg, AND also a fascinating book all about the creation of “Candy.”

Here’s the plot:

“Candy” Christian, aged eighteen, is an extremely pretty and desirable but naïve young woman, who finds herself in a variety of farcical sexual situations as a result of her desire to help others. The men in her life, regardless of age or relationship, wish only to possess her.

Because of the language and sexual situations described in this farce, the book was written under the pen name “Maxwell Kenton” to protect the American authors in France from deportation!

“Candy” was one of the most successful titles published by Maurice Girodias — a fascinating Publisher whose other successes included “Lolita”, “Tropic of Cancer”, and “Naked Lunch”.

Because it was so controversial, “Candy” was also sold in France under the title “Lollipop” – in order to fool police, who were confiscating the book.

“Candy” is a sex farce, an absurdist, hipster take on the allure of young women.

The book, which is a comic novel, tells the story of Candy’s encounters with doctors, mystics, academics, gardeners, lecherous uncles, messenger boys and others, who all have one thing in common: they want to have sex with Candy.

The book is clearly a farce – like the time Candy meets a hunchback and wants to have sex with him…as she screams in passion:


Targeted by the FBI as pornography, Candy was redeemed as “satire” by an FBI analyst reporting to J. Edgar Hoover. The original FBI memorandum is printed in this 60th anniversary edition.

As fascinating as “Candy” is, Author Terry Southern’s son Nile tells the equally-fascinating story about the creation of the book in his memoir “The Candy Men”…

As Nile writes in the open to his story:

“When I was in grade school in 1967, one of my six-year-old classmates, Daisy Friedman (now a writer), turned to me and said, “Your father is a dirty old man!” I asked how she knew that, and she said, “He wrote a book called Candy — and it’s a dirty, dirty book!” Again, I asked how she knew all this, and she said, “Because my parents told me — they have it on their bookshelf.”

60 years later, this book remains important. For Niles Southern, he was too young at the time to know how controversial his Dad’s work was.

While he admired his father, he didn’t really understand the scandal…then he got to look into his father’s files…as he writes in “The Candy Men”:

“I first got the idea for ‘The Candy Men’ after reading a letter in Terry’s files from a British barrister advising how (even in 1968) the only way Candy could appear in England would be to undergo a “pornectomy” — eliminating about eighty instances of what was considered “indecency,” which the barrister had handily indexed in a kind of blueprint for the operation. The assessment featured page after page of cryptic references to offending words and passages to be excised or modified: Page 60 line 7 “COME” amend to “come to you” without capitals; Line 15 “jack-off” amend to “liberate”; Page 93 line 2 “exactly like an erection.” Delete.”

“The Candy Men” is a meticulous look at the writing and publication of this “banned book.”

I took a photo of a page where Niles describes the writing process of the infamous masturbation scene…because the book was taking so long to write, his Dad had gone to work on another book called “The Magic Christian”.

Here is the setup of the doctor scene, what was going on between the two Writers, and that notorious scene from “Candy” as well:

In many ways it’s a very sad story, because while “Candy” was ultimately released worldwide, the Authors never made money on it – this page of photos from “The Candy Men” shows the first of many “pirate” incarnations of the book, which deprived the Authors of any of the money from millions of copies being sold…

With chapters titled “Stealing Candy” and “Birds Of A Feather, Falling” – the memoir digs deep into the shocking details of how their work was stolen from them, and also goes into a LOT of detail regarding just how much – or little – co-Author Mason Hoffenberg actually wrote…

By sharing reams of correspondence between Southern and Hoffenberg, it appears that they worked separately, shared drafts by letter, and Southern was leading the way on the novel…here are two excerpts from Mason’s letters to Terry:

“I am coming along slowly (as usual), but plugging doggily. I can’t think of anything i what I’m doing that you might need to know about for your part…”

Then, a letter from Mason to Terry right after they signed the deal to write the book is a refrain that comes up again and again:

“Now for some less cheerful news. I am having an unusually severe case of writer’s jam and simply haven’t been able to really get cracking on the thing as yet.”

This candid correspondence really helps tell the story of the creation of this erotic satire…

In the meantime, Southern not only published his great book “The Magic Christian” but he was Oscar-nominated for the screen play for Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove”…a great talent.

A ribald and controversial novel and the story of its creation – both worth reading on this #BannedBooksWeek!

Also, these two terrific Bloggers have shared details on books being banned today – please click to see more:

I started #BannedBooksWeek with a look at the banned AND prosecuted “Naked Lunch”:

You can read more about this piece of pop culture history by clicking on my story here:

If you enjoy these posts, why not subscribe and never miss out? It’s easy, and there are NO ads of any kind, just stuff I like…click on the main page and “follow” me on the upper right…

Leave a comment on “Candy” or anything else about Banned Books that you want to share!

Categories: Art, Books / Media, British Cinema, Comedy Movies, Cult Movies, London, Memoirs, Movies, Pop Culture, Talent/Celebrities, Uncategorized

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17 replies

  1. Great piece. As a confirmed Southern enthusiast the profile of the overlooked ‘The Candy Men’ brought back a lot of memories which I’m certain will prompt me to pull it down from the shelf to reread this weekend. Though not remaining as provocative as Southern’s “Blue Movie”, “Candy” still has to be the wittiest variant of “Candide” ever. I certainly wish such a collection of memorandum were available in focusing on the writing of “Dr. Strangelove” as Kubrick was later adamant at minimizing Southern’s contributions (which seem rather blatant), but then Stanley was never shy about taking the lion’s share of credit in his collaborations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I found “The Candy Men” in the “sale” section at the iconic Book Soup on Sunset Boulevard, right across from the equally iconic original Tower Records store, now sadly closed. I enjoyed it, even if the correspondence was a bit of a slog at times…thanks for commenting, a witty “Candide” it was, and so “PG” rated in hindsight!


  2. How interesting! This is one banned book I hadn’t heard of. It’s funny how times change – this would be considered pretty harmless by today’s standards!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on By Hook Or By Book and commented:
    This is a fascinating post by John about the controversial book Candy, published 61 years ago.


  4. I love this post John! I hadn’t heard of this until now. Absolutely fascinating!


  5. I have never heard of this book. How very interesting, John. There is nothing more alluring than a banned book.


  6. I remember Candy. And, I remember The Travelers Companion. I will never forget their cover or how the books were put together. My father had quite the collection. Another one was something like Olympia Press I think. I was a teenager when I discovered them. Wow, was that something. I still have some of his erotic/porn and there is one of those. I’ll have to find it.

    I remember too, Terry Southern’s Candy and BJ Novak sure rings a bell. William Burroughs… the band Steely Dan sure owes him a debt.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have to confess that this one passed me by. I have never even heard of it.
    Good call for a banned book, John. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pete, it was notorious for its time, but really tame by today’s standards…it’s a farce, so it’s all plays for cheap laughs…and the film with Marlon Brando and many other stars is considered one of the worst ever made…so of course I own it! Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I was far too young when I read it and totally shocked! Don’t know how I’d feel if I read it now.

    Liked by 1 person


  1. #BannedBooksWeek! “What The Friday!?!?!” Shocking List Of Booking Banned Today! – johnrieber

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