Candy and Me
by Hilary Liftin
2003 • 224 pages • Free Press
For me, it was always Shockers (née Shocktarts). Just typing out the name makes my mouth water. They are (and, despite my ability to restrain myself from purchasing them all the time, remain) the perfect confection for me. Wholly artificial sugar rounds with a gloriously tart and hard exterior that, after some sucking, gave way to a soft, chewy, and sweet center. (Warheads, being all sour, do not appeal to my love of texture.) I bought them in the rolls, I bought them in the bags. I found one at the bottom of my purse once and had to talk myself out of eating it, because I’m an adult and not a feral child. I unrolled the roll one pellet at a time, always hoping that it was mostly red, purple, and the most treasured flavor—blue.
When I discovered, in college, that you could buy entire theater boxes of them, I practically exploded. Invited to a repeat viewing of Sherlock Holmes, I brought along this newfound glory. After perfunctorily offering my friends some, I set to devouring the entire box. Halfway through the film, my mouth started to feel like it was vibrating. In the bathroom after the film, I bared my teeth and stuck my tongue at my reflection. My bleeding tongue. I had, by sucking on the sour coating, managed to scrape a great deal of skin off of my tongue.
The Books They Gave Me by Jen Adams
I may have misrepresented my child self to you. Compared against my adolescence (or the Wombat Years, as they’re better known), my childhood outbursts can seem tame and downright civil. To this image, I counter my wanton destruction of my brother’s comic books. These weren’t comics like the ones in my longbox; these were hardbound copies of Asterix either my family brought from France when they moved here or my father brought back from his trips for my brother. With colored pencils and my tiny, furious fists, I ripped them to shreds, forcing my brother, my elder by nine years who considerably outclassed me physically, to call on our mother to make me stop.
The Love Song of Jonny Valentine by Teddy Wayne
This has got to be one of the fastest turnarounds on a recommendation I’ve ever managed. I read Michiko Kakutani’s review of The Love Song of Jonny Valentine in The New York Times at the end of January, when it was published, and I picked it up in March when I stumbled across it in my hometown’s public library. I have a weak spot for books transparently inspired by celebrities (thus Plastic Jesus and Between You and Me), and The Love Song of Jonny Valentine clearly patterns itself after the life of Justin Bieber. Bieber is an easy target, though, so it took Kakutani’s review to convince me I should give it a whirl.