The Rollicking Life and Times of the Notorious Novel Candy

New York Public Library:
When Candy Was Banned:
How The Olympia Press Thwarted Literary Censorship

A panel discussion

Humanities and Social Sciences Library; South Court Auditorium

Tuesday, November 9, 2004, 6:30 P.M.

A discussion of transatlantic literary freedom in the 1950s and the subversive tactics of the Olympia Press, led by some of the most controversial publishers, translators, and authors of the day.

Leon Friedman served as the attorney for publisher Maurice Girodias throughout the 1960s. He is currently of counsel to Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Laura Frost is an Assistant Professor of Literature at Yale University, and the author of Sex Drives: Fantasies of Fascism in Literary Modernism.
Iris Owens wrote numerous wildly popular and regularly banned erotic novels for the “Traveller’s Companion” series of Olympia Press under the pseudonym “Harriet Daimler.”

Nile Southern is the author of The CANDY Men: The Rollicking Life and Times of the Notorious Novel CANDY. The son of Terry Southern, he serves as co-Trustee of the Terry Southern Literary Trust.

The late Richard Seaver was the co-founder of Arcade Publishing. An esteemed translator of French literature, he served as the Parisian publisher of Beckett and Genet, and has translated numerous works by Marguerite Duras, Eugène Ionesco, and the Marquis de Sade, among others. Before founding Arcade, Mr. Seaver was Editor-in-Chief at Grove Press and Penguin USA.

Erotica Readers & Writers Association
Review by Rob Hardy
October 2004

"The Candy Men thus turns out to be a sad book with lots of funny stories about how a really funny book came into being. Anyone who values Candy will be fascinated with this complicated biography of the novel."

Everyone Was a Fool
The Unruly, Unappreciated, Unparalleled
Genius of Terry Southern
By Max Watman
New York Sun,
October 15, 2004
(HTML version)

This is the grand guy who wrote the best hipster fiction ever done, invented the independent film movement, and cracked New Journalism fully grown right out of his skull. He drove across the country and back again while Neil and Jack were still scraping nickels off the kitchen floor for gas money and dex. He was the blockbuster, bestselling author of "Candy."

.PDF version of the review...

When Connecticut Was Cool
The state's cold war cut-ups make a comeback
by Christopher Arnott
Fairfield County Weekly
August 12, 2004

Southern's Snarkiness

"...Nile Southern's written his own book about loss of innocence in the 1960s: The Candy Men: The Rollicking Life and Times of the Notorious Novel Candy (Arcade). It traces the uneven collaboration between Terry Southern and his pal Mason Hoffenberg to create a book which not only caused an inevitable furor for its vulgar take on contemporary culture, but brought about landmark changes in how the First Amendment applied to erotic literature. Terry Southern's slang-laden language may have become dated over the years, but his ideas never got stale, and he's the best guy to read (or watch) for an honest, empowering laugh when the world seems to be collapsing around you."

The Truth About 'Candy'
By Kent Carroll
The East Hampton Star
September 2, 2004

"The Candy Men" ... captures many of the sights and sounds of those years and that strange terrain. His history is colorful, a mostly engaging portrait of some lively moments in our recent cultural past.

Sugar High
The Texas Observer
August 13, 2004

The Candy Men: The Rollicking Life and Times of the Notorious Novel Candy
By Nile Southern

The late Terry Southern was known for a lot of things, including doing much of the writing on the screenplays of the landmark films Dr. Strangelove and Easy Rider. But for most it will always be his association with the supposedly racy 1960s best-seller Candy that comes to mind when his name gets mentioned. Southern co-authored the novel, and I must say right off that the subtitle of this book by his son Nile Southern saves the reviewer the chore of providing a working precis of its contents, also establishing the right mood for the entire offbeat tale: “The Rollicking Life and Times of the Notorious Novel Candy.”

The Candy Men
Reviewed by William McKeen
Boston University College of Communication

September, 2004

". . . a wonderful, stirring and ultimately tragic book, and the whole tale was started by a piece of writing intended to a quick sell for a cheap thrill. Who knew it would turn out to be art?"

The Denver Post:
'Southern's impact immeasurable':
By Steve Rosen
August 22, 2004

Review of The Candy Men: "... doggedly researched and engrossing..."

On Terry Southern: "He broke down one very big barrier separating sexually explicit language from art, and everyone from Lenny Bruce to Madonna has tried to one-up him since."

Camden, New Jersey Courier-Post
"Candy Men" looks back at beat generation classic
By Frank Halperin
July 11, 2004

"Flawlessly detailed and presented with a spellbinding verve, The Candy Men is a truly captivating biography of both the milestone novel and its furiously original and unwavering writers."

The New York Times:
'The Candy Men': Biography of a Dirty Novel

June 6, 2004

"...a highly successful example of an underexploited genre, the biography of a book..."

"The adventures of ''Candy'' have been related before, but never as fully and sympathetically as here, with letters, contracts, legal minutiae, multifaceted biography and, now and then, a wistful personal detail, all conspiring to take the story forward..."

"...thoroughly enjoyable..."

(Link to The New York Times review of The Candy Men here; free registration needed)
"The Candy Men" by Nile Southern

June 10, 2004

"Terry Southern's son tells the wacky tale of his dad's '60s pornographic masterpiece "Candy," whose heroine is both dirtier and more innocent than today's dead-eyed Britney nymphets."

"In its crassness, its lust for celebrity, its pornographication, in the willed yahooism of its politics, America has seemed, for some time now, to be operating according to a Terry Southern scenario.

For the last 30 years or so, he has been the Edgar Bergen of the American zeitgeist. I wish there had been more Terry Southern books, but his voice is a constant. For me there is no other writer whose voice is more present in American public life, whose distant cackle can be detected in the (often overlapping) lingo of showbiz and advertising and corporations and politics."

High Times
Review by
Michael Simmons

"A giant of American literature, the late writer Terry Southern blended first-rate storytelling, boho cool, outrageous humor, and forthright sexuality and produced some of the most enduring novels (The Magic Christian, Blue Movie), screenplays (Dr. Strangelove, Easy Rider), and short story collections (Red-Dirt Marijuana And Other Tastes) of the 20th Century. In 1958, shady Parisian porn lit king Maurice Girodias published a satire called Candy by Southern and fellow mad-dog hipster Mason Hoffenberg. The book went on to sell millions of copies and a decade-long, dual-continent legal battle -- against censors as well as between business partners -- ensued. From the fictitious heroine Candy Christian and her motley suitors to the real-life authors and myriad publishers, everybody got fucked one way or another.

Nile Southern, Terry’s son, reconstructs this colorful literary history in The Candy Men: The Rollicking Life and Times of the Notorious Novel Candy. The original best seller’s title character is a hot, young naïf whose generous spirit allows men repeated access to her nubile chassis. While delightfully prurient, the comedic depiction of masculine rapacity cloaked in mock-serious dialogue elevated the tome to a work of art. The visionary Girodias also pubbed Burroughs’ Naked Lunchand Nabokov’s Lolita; other classics initially banned for “dirty” themes or language. He was equally as infamous for ripping writers off, copyright shenanigans, and hiding assets in other ventures.

By threading the controversy’s narrative with letters between the players and the army of lawyers retained to sort out the intrigue, Nile allows us to live amongst a crew of mavericks whose highly evolved intelligence matched their ability to shock. The mastery of language contained in the correspondence between Terry and Mason, in particular, is a groove to behold and reminds us that there was a not-so-distant-time when geniuses armed with typewriters fought the thought cops and won."

An interview with author Nile Southern on KGNU 88.5 FM
Boulder, Colorado, June 2, 2004

Publishers Weekly
Non-Fiction: Editor's Pick for May!
The Candy Men: The Rollicking Life and Times of the Notorious Novel Candy

In the spirit of VH1's Behind the Music comes this revealing behind-the-scenes look at the making, breaking, remaking, pirating, filming and legal wrangling of the '60s cult phenomenonm Candy. An erotic satire vaguely inspired by Voltaire's Candide and penned under the name Maxwell Kenton (the nom de plume of its ex-pat coauthors, Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg), Candy was first published in 1958 by the notorious French publisher, Maurice Giordias. The book was immediately banned, then reissued under the title Lollipop, barred again, then reissued again, sanitized in England and eventually shipped stateside, where thanks to Putnam and a slew of publishing pirates, it leapt to bestsellerdom and was eventually crowned "the world's most talked about book."

Southern's own son, Nile, has recounted the novel's bumpy and adventurous journey in a magnificent epistolary style, reprinting the correspondence between Candy's authors, its publisher and its increasingly complicated web of involved parties. The compilation perfectly captures the "growing misunderstandings, temper tantrums, paranoid fixations, jealousies, dreams and utter despair that each of these men went through as they tried to regain control over their book lost in a miasma of cloudy copyright." (Miasma is an apt term: by the second half of the book the legal fog is so thick that it's nearly impossible to keep track of who's suing whom.)

Raucous and voyeuristic, this biography of a book offers valuable insight into the Beat scenes of Paris and New York, as well as into the publishing world during an era of shifting attitudes toward censorship. Perhaps most importantly, it also offers a window onto the lives and minds of two wildly creative literary characters: the authors Southern and Hoffenberg themselves. (April 22nd, 2004)

BOOKLIST, May 2004:

Southern, Nile. The Candy Men: The Rollicking Life and Times of the Notorious Novel Candy. May 2004. 408p. illus. index. Arcade, $27.95 (1-55970-604-X).

The late satirist Terry Southern is best known as the screenwriting genius behind Stanley Kubrick’s black-comedy masterpiece, Dr. Strangelove. Less well known in contemporary letters is Southern’s friend and lifelong correspondent, Mason Hoffenberg, like Southern a product of the 1950s beat movement. In the mid-sixties, the pair jointly wrote Candy, an erotic parody of Voltaire’s Candide that became an underground sensation and later a victim of its era’s censorship and copyright laws. Southern’s son here engagingly recounts the colorful history of the novel’s composition and success, from gestation in Parisian and Greenwich Village cafés and pubs to being pirated by other underground publishers to its eventual rendition in an embarrassing film starring, among other luminaries, Marlon Brando and Richard Burton. At times more fascinating and readable than the original novel, the Candy saga constitutes an important chapter in the history of popular culture and a worthy second look at one of the now largely forgotten masterpieces of erotic literature.

–– Carl Hays

"Old poops, puritans, the politically correct, and our fun-loving Attorney General may choke on indignation and outraged sensibilities, but the rest of us must laugh along with these anarchic voices. Such wild metaphors and riffs of fervid imagination, daring to celebrate our frailties and folly, are the stuff of literature and life." — Peter Mathiessen

From the Publisher, Arcade:

In the early fall of 1958 there appeared in Paris, in the familiar dull-green cover of the already notorious Olympia Press, a novel entitled Candy, a Rabelasian satire loosely based on Voltaire's Candide by one Maxwell Kenton, pseudonym of its coauthors Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg. Following a modest first printing, the book drew the attention of the French censors, was banned, reissued by Olympia's intrepid publisher Maurice Girodias under the title Lollipop, rebanned, then again reissued. Within years it became one of the most talked-about novels of the tumultuous 1960s, selling in the millions of copies in America alone, its success prompting Hollywood to turn it into a move.

The rollicking, hilarous, and sometimes tragic story of Candy's public career is recounted here in full detail by Nile Southern, son of Terry Southern. From the book's humble beginnings in Paris in the late 1950s through an agonizing three-year gestation (often on paper napkins, lost, stolen, or destroyed) and the authors' wily, often self-destructive business dealings with their equally wily French publisher, to its chaotic and controversial publication in the United States, The Candy Men follows with unblinking scrutiny Candy's underground then mainstream success, the legal shenanigans surrounding it, the blatant piracy that plagued it almost from the start, and the star-studded cast with whose help it was made into one of the worst motion-pictures of all time.

Replete with deceptions and self-deceptions, midnight dope runs, betrayals left, right and center, court cases galore, and, in short, general pandemonium, The Candy Men—starring Terry Southern, Mason Hoffenberg, and Maurice Girodias--is as much fun to read as the original novel itself.

Santa Monica Mirror: review
The Candy Men
by Nile Southern

Was it erotic satire or was it a dirty book? Its authors thought it was both. The notorious novel Candy was written by friends Terry Southern (father of author Nile) and Mason Hoffenberg, bad-boy ex-pats who met in 1948 in Paris, where they hung out in cafes, smoked hash, listened to jazz, slept with women and met Maurice Girodias, the audacious publisher who delighted in putting out books that the government would ban and spent much of his life flirting with prison because of it. Girodias gathered a stable of ex-pat writers and inaugurated an erotic series called the “Traveller’s Companion.” Candy was 64th in the series, published in 1958 and quickly confiscated by the Paris vice squad. It was reissued under the title Lollipop so that it could be smuggled into England. In 1964, it appeared in the United States, where Newsweek called it “the first genuinely comic pornographic novel.” Nile Southern draws from his father’s correspondence with Hoffenberg, Girodias and others in this ribald story of a book and its authors, who thumbed their noses at the sexual mores of their time.


— Fall 2004 —

Sunday, November 7th, 11pm
308 Bowery foot of First Street, between Houston & Bleecker across from CBGBs

Nile Southern will read from The CANDY Men.
The fabulous
Phoebe Legere and Nile will read/perform scenes
from the 1958 banned novel.

Daisy Friedman will read a new poem for the occasion.
Midnight Ubu-Dance Party after the reading.

STOPSMILING magazine, publishing party:

Issue # 19, Rebels + Outlaws

The Standard Hotel
550 S. Flower St.,
downtown Los Angeles
with DJ
Har Mar Superstar, and special guests
(213) 892-8080

Sunday, September 26, MYOPIC BOOKSTORE
1564 N. Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, Illinois 60622

Illinois State University in Normal
7 p.m. reading, followed by
screening of CANDY
CVA 147 as part of
Banned Books Week.
The event is free and open to all.

New York Public Library:
When Candy Was Banned:
How The Olympia Press Thwarted Literary Censorship

Tuesday, November 9, 2004, 6:30 P.M.

The New York Public Library acquired the
Terry Southern literary archive April 1, 2003.

Read about the collection here!

— Spring/Summer 2004 —

August 12, KERA 90.1 FM, National Public Radio for Dallas and North Texas
The Glenn Mitchell Show
Interview from Greece, by cell phone: a FIRST for KERA!

Tuesday, June 1st, Boulder Bookstore,
Boulder, Colorado, 7:30 p.m.
Photos of the event HERE..

Wednesday, June 2, "Live at Penny Lane" — KGNU 88.5 FM
Boulder, Colorado, 8:35 a.m.

Friday, June 18th, 6:30 p.m. Book Hampton
126 Main Street
Sag Harbor, New York
phone: 631-725-1114

Saturday, June 24, 7:30 p.m., New York City
Barnes & Noble Bookstore
396 Avenue of the Americas
(in the Village, 6th and 8th)

reviews, comments, literary observations,
and love letters to Candy

Seven Deadly Arts: a review of The CANDY Men
Movies, literature, music and more...

"No staid literary bio (for these were not staid literary men) "The Candy Men" becomes a frantic portrait of two men riding on the fringe of a cultural change, watching their book evolve from stoned fantasy to cause celebre, from a smut-for- hire job to contractual nightmare. But there's not a dull page in it…"

Message to hipsters, cultural anthropologists, 60's diehards and book fiends:
Check out Nile Southern's
out today [5.7.04]
Arcade/Warner Books.

Nile has set down the premier exposition of the storied birth and aftermath of runaway bestseller and scandàle literàire CANDY, an addictive read you simply could not avoid if you were alive in the 1960s. A bona fide phenomenon in a decade rife with outrè happenings, the true story behind CANDY is as heartbreaking as it is hilarious; you will not want to miss this insider's account of two real-life Candides (or Quixotes) as they whip the Quality Lit world but ultimately succumb to inner demons they could not vanquish.

The Candy Men.  Buy it. Read it. If you like it, recommend it.
I wouldn't do you wrong.

Gordon Whiting, San Francisco, Calif.
U.S.of A.

Bittersweet Candy

Written in the uptight Eisenhower 50s in tag-team style by a poet/narcotics addict (Hoffenberg) and 'the ultimate hipster' (Southern), the novel Candy began life as a lark—a quick way to make a few bucks—and ended up a landmark work that not only defined what was (and was not) funny but also what was (and was not) obscene.

Candy's strange trip—from initial conception, to completion, and eventual condemnation—is stylishly told, warts-and-all, in The CANDY Men via the letters of its main players as they conspire, debate, vilify, and argue with each other over the course of several years. This is engrossing and hilarious stuff at times, petty and mean-spirited at others, as 'he said/she said' type arguments rise and fall over authorship, ownership, division of labor, and (of course) division of money.

In The CANDY Men, Nile Southern (son of Terry) comes clean about the making of the ultimate dirty book. "Good grief, it's Daddy!" indeed.

—Jim Yoakum, Director, The Graham Chapman Archives
Literary Executor, The Graham Chapman Estate

An inspiring cautionary tale

Candy remains a delightful anomaly...a funny, poetic, and insightful (and still hot) book. Nile Southern's The Candy Men is a near forensic account of its inauspicious beginnings as a Left Bank lark between Terry Southern, Mason Hoffenberg, and Olympia Press impresario and mad scientist, Maurice Girodias. The book became an underground phenomenon in 1958 and then a mainstream bestseller in 1964. Sadly, Hoffenberg and Southern saw little of the book's profits thanks to the near insane business and legal logic of Girodias (a man who was at once a shyster, patron, and visionary).

Nile has created a timely and long overdue narrative of an exciting period in literary and cultural history—that weird transition from the Beat world of the 50s to the psychedelic meltdown of the 60s - in a prose style that communicates the idealism and passion of those years. However, the book is far from a nostalgia trip. It also serves as a cautionary tale to writers who get sucked into the crevice where art and commerce mix. Funny, inspiring, sad, and tragic.
The Candy Men is just what we need in these grim and depressing times of the Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney junta.

—Lee Hill, author, A Grand Guy: The Art and Life of Terry Southern
London, England