Episode 7: Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson
Ten Thousand Saints begins on December 31, 1987, shortly before 15-year-old Teddy McNicholas's life ends from a drug overdose. His best friend, Jude, who was doing drugs with Teddy the night he dies, feels responsible. So does his 18-year-old brother, Johnny, who abandoned Teddy a couple of years earlier to go to New York and start up a band. And so does Eliza, Jude's father's girlfriend's daughter -- got that? -- who gave Teddy cocaine that night and also, that same night, became pregnant with his child. The novel follows these three as their lives intersect on New York's seedy East Village, in the midst of the "straight edge" scene, an underground youth culture characterized by a devotion to hardcore punk and a commitment to abstaining from booze, drugs, and sex.
"I wanted to write about the straight-edge scene because it was a world of really rich paradoxes; I thought there must be some stories in that world," Eleanor Henderson tells us. "[And] I wanted to write a book not just about the coming of age of young people, but the coming of age of a city."
Host Cyd Oppenheimer talks with guest readers Sam Purdy and Shifra Sharlin about brothers and mothers, guilt and love, and what, ultimately, we're meant to think of the straight-edge scene (a fad, a front, or something more?).