By Aubrey Paton for The Times:
The thought of a Bildungsroman saturated with teenage angst and infused with the Zeitgeist of late 1980s New York counter culture may not appeal to everyone, but Eleanor Henderson’s debut novel Ten Thousand Saints grips from the very first page.
She introduces the gorgeous, soon-to-be-dead Teddy and his best friend, Jude Keffy-Horn, two small-town rebels desperate for their next high.
We never meet Teddy’s mum, who abandons him, but Jude is the adopted son of an ageing hippy whose mothering skills dissipated in a cloud of marijuana smoke: Jude was born with probable foetal alcohol syndrome.
Teddy dies from a mixture of cocaine, Freon gas and hypothermia, leaving Jude bereft and determined to escape reality through whatever means possible.
Desperate, his hapless mother sends him to New York to live with her husband, a successful drug dealer. This is a well-written and moving tribute to a world completely alien to me, the “straight-edge” culture, a punk music movement which regarded the body as a temple, condemning sex, drugs, alcohol and any physical or dietary impurity [such as meat or coffee] as unclean.
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