The Candy Man Can: Jerry Bradley’s New Book

Forthcoming novel, The Candy Man has been doing the rounds on Facebook, it’s author, Jerry Bradley, a former Devizes resident, has done a marvellous job of promoting it’s release despite a date remains unconfirmed as of yet. But does it live up to the hype you may ask? Well, I’ve had a sneaky read. But I’m guessing you knew that I would!

 
The project is in memory of Jerry’s late wife, who passed away four years ago, after a twelve-year battle with Dementia. Therefore, Jerry will make a voluntary donation to Dementia UK for each book sold.

 
The story behind the book is perhaps more moving than the book itself; amateur author, Jerry, started writing the day she was diagnosed. “It was fear that got me writing,” he explained, “I wrote my memoirs. At the time I thought, if I got Dementia, I could read my life story over and over again to remember. Then, when I became a full-time carer the last three years of her life, I started to write stories.”

 
A pause after the fateful day, it took Jerry two years before he began writing The Candy Man. “I believe in my humble opinion, you have to have a WHY, a reason to do anything. That is my reason, to use my crazy imagination to its full potential and raise a pile of money to help as many people as I can.”

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It’s a humbling reason to embark on a creative career, and I salute Jerry, as I would anyone who takes a stab at writing a story; first-hand experience, I’ll tell you it’s not as simple as it looks. Yet, with modern methods of self-publishing, writing a book is now counteractive against the confines of the custom; educated, skilled authors being the only ones able to express themselves through mainstream publishers; this has come crashing down.

 
A double-edged sword, this new availability, as the untutored can bash out an illiterate or such badly constructed story that it’s illegible or misconceived, yet freedom of expression for all must be welcomed, as it opens enlightenment of the commonplace, it gives scope to literature the like has never been seen before.

 
Grammar and language aside, as what I hold is an unedited copy and not yet proofread, The Candy Man’s narrative is not without faults, yet by far not the worst book I’ve read, both self and mainstream published. Written first person, it follows the life of young man struggling with working class deprivation, and extreme belligerent conditions, and through honour, commitment and with a tremendously violent attitude, elevates himself to a master of the criminal underworld.

 
No spoilers, I’ll reveal an uncensored fable of corruption and ferocity only, through the drugs trade in an international gangland realm, akin to popcorn-munching Hollywood movie stature. It’s certainly exciting and a monster of a run. Yet, I confess the protagonist is a person I couldn’t identify with. At no point was I in the backseat of his life, rooting for him or condoning the decisions he made. That said, I detested the characters of Humbert in Lolita, or Alex in A Clockwork Orange, yet both are fascinating cult classics.

 
It’s as if The Candy Man is perched on a barstool, obligatorily reciting his tale to anyone willing to listen, precisely it’s unusual magnetism. It’s so full of bravado and arrogance it virtually defies reality. Trapped in an invented action movie-land, clichés abound, the finale is somewhat predictable, and there’s a lack of tension, because the character never once comes up against a nemesis, or valid opponent. He brutally murders anyone who crosses his path, in his boxing career every challenger snuffs it, in his felonious business dealings he takes no prisoners.

 
Consistency and continuity, it works on many levels, which is what kept me marching on through to the end. Yet I held out for him to learn the error of his ways and overturn them; The Candy Man doesn’t follow the rules any more than its central character.

 
It’s a thrilling read, if not a literature masterpiece. Written in simple English, excused in the first person, the protagonist unlikely to recite Keates. The author writes as the protagonist contemplates, merely and direct, with an archaic attitude towards women; even the most powerful female character swoons at his egotistical mannerisms, in an Ian Fleming fashion, the pornographic elements perhaps the most nauseatingly grafted portions.

 
Aside this, poignant sections remain in the action, whereas descriptive text of locations, or emotions of the Candy Man are slight; a year can go past in a single paragraph. Least, this makes it fast-paced. But there were parts I felt I needed greater input to satisfy, the character passed comment that he had “voices in his head,” for example, yet treated it as a passing issue, it did nothing to express the mental torture of schizophrenia.

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Book worms may shiver, but for the mild to average reader though, it entertains. I tended to be aggravated by the repeated usage of “I” as an opening of nearly every sentence, “I went here,” “I did this,” etc. Whimsical complaint though, perhaps needs a little ironing out, and with that, it’d be an exciting and intense novel. Nevertheless, The Candy Man is an outrageous car-chase of a read, it kept me reading, and I tip my hat for a first attempt at a novel, it rocks.

 

I must also say, it’s been interesting following Jerry’s progress with the Candy Man, and I wish him all the best with this project: Like his Facebook page and follow too!

 

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