Davies, Luke 1962-
DAVIES, Luke 1962-
Born 1962, in Sydney, Australia. Education: Attended Sydney University.
Agent—c/o Author Correspondence, Allen & Unwin, P.O. Box 8500, St. Leonard's, New South Wales 1590, Australia.
Writer. Has worked as a bartender, truck driver, editor, and teacher.
Four Plots for Magnets (poetry), Glandular Press (Australia), 1982.
Absolute Event Horizon: Poems, Angus & Robertson (Sydney, Australia), 1994.
Candy (novel), Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 1998.
Running with Light: Poems, Allen & Unwin (St. Leonard's, New South Wales, Australia), 1999.
Isabelle the Navigator (novel), Allen & Unwin (St. Leonard's, New South Wales, Australia), 2000, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Contributor of poetry to periodicals, including Weekend Australian.
Candy was been optioned as a motion picture.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
Luke Davies is an Australian writer who has had success with both poetry and fiction. Davies's poetry is better known in Australia, but he has gained an international audience for his novels Candy and Isabelle the Navigator. Set in Sydney and Melbourne, Candy tells the harrowing story of a couple dragged into desperation by heroin addiction. The unnamed narrator describes his love affair with a young woman named Candy who, with his complicity, becomes addicted herself. The novel goes into great detail about the daily lives of addicts and their single-minded pursuit of the next fix. Candy descends into prostitution, and the narrator commits fraud and petty acts of robbery as he frantically searches his body for a vein he can prick. Although Davies has admitted that he used drugs in the past, he insists that Candy is fiction and that it bears no true resemblance to his life. As he put it in the Brisbane Courier-Mail, "I don't think there is anybody under 45 today who hasn't had some contact with drugs. Yet this is a fictional creation and hopefully what rings true is the emotional landscape that I have constructed."
Critics in Australia and America reacted positively to Davies's images in Candy. In the Australian Book Review, Jill Jones wrote: "This is a good book, a true book, which left me feeling sad for some days.… Davies is a very good writer." Rocky Mountain News correspondent Gary Williams felt that the author's "soulful prose is the perfect antidote to the harsh realities of the underground world inhabited by these hopeless junkies." Williams concluded that Davies's portrayal of the addicted lifestyle "helps us understand a world most people are not familiar with." Reviewer Rosser Street in the Weekend Australian observed that the novel "is a timely window into the realities of heroin addiction. It is also something of a stylistic breakthrough in terms of our 'drug' literature. The nature of addiction is rendered clearly, precisely, often surprisingly.… This alone makes it valuable."
Davies's second novel bears no resemblance to his first. Isabelle the Navigator is a first-person account of a woman's grief over the loss of her lover and her father. As she reminisces about her past and deals with her present circumstances, Isabelle draws solace from wind charts and other navigational tools that she learns about in night classes. In a Brisbane Courier-Mail review, Rebekah Scott stated: "Isabelle's tale is a confessional, cross-generational, lyrical, nautical saga.… The imagery is elemental." Seattle Times contributor Clarence Brown deemed the title character "a consummately imagined young woman."
In an interview with the Weekend Australian, Davies said that he is grateful for the success of his fiction because it gives him more time to write poetry. This is no small consideration for a writer whose 1995 collection, Absolute Event Horizon was shortlisted for Australia's Trunbull Fox Phillips poetry prize. Davies told an online interviewer that his accomplishments have come because he is a survivor of drug abuse who feels inner contentment. "What's changed for me is that I spent my time as a drug addict wishing that I was someone else, somewhere else, some other time, and these days I'm really happy to be me. Glad to be who I am."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Australian Book Review, November, 1994, Peter Mitchell, "Colours of Poetry," p. 58; December, 1997/January, 1998, Jill Jones, "Addictive Genre," p. 46.
Booklist, July, 1998, Kevin Grandfield, review of Candy, p. 1857.
Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Australia), September 6, 1997, C. Bantick, "Sniff Today and Die," p. 7; October 7, 2000, Rebekah Scott, "On Women and the Wind," p. M5.
Publishers Weekly, June 8, 1998, review of Candy, p. 46.
Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO), October 7, 1998, Gary Williams, "Soulful Prose Hooks Interest in Drug Odyssey," p. D10.
Seattle Times, September 29, 2002, Clarence Brown, review of Isabelle the Navigator, p. K9.
Weekend Australian (Sydney, Australia), October 11, 1997, Rosser Street, "Desperate Lives," p. R30; October 14, 2000, Sian Powell, "Risky Business," p. R10.
IAustralia,http://www.thei.aust.com/ (October 23, 2003), interview with Davies.*