Not a Saint
The opening line of Soft Candy
is, "Saint Swithin McGuire was not a saint." The question from that point forward becomes, does Saint Swithin realize this? Like so many who engage in subterfuge and criminal activities, Swithin does not see himself as a "bad guy". Quite the contrary, he sees himself as a young, confident, go-getter who works by day at a dot-com start-up, and spends his nights and weekends playing a game—wearing the mask of someone he believes he is not. This game is exhilarating and gains him status in the eyes of others. But like all masks routinely worn, what at first is a facade, soon grows to fit Saint Swithin's face. Only by the time he realizes this, he's in over his head.
There was a buzz in the Bay Area during the late-nineties that lead hundreds of thousands to think, "If I could get a job at a dot-com, I'd be set for life!" And why not? For a while just about any web-based enterprise, however absurd or groundless, could rake in cash hand over fist. Stock prices were increasing rapidly on the speculation of future earnings and venture capitalists were tripping over each other to invest. Moreover, those who had dot-com jobs looked to be having the time of their lives. Startups were hosting extravagant launch parties, office spaces were filled with laughter and games, and massive paychecks and stock options were leading employees ranked 1 through 100 to believe they'd be millionaires in a year.
Victims of Fun
Just as where there's smoke, there's fire, where there's money, youth, and dancing, there will be drugs. Drawn in by a sense of community and a shared love of music, tens of thousands of dot-comers flooded into the night clubs and bars of San Francisco, nearly every night of the week. And for those who weren't up for the hassle of long entrance lines and pushy club goers, dance communities (some boasting members into the hundreds) hosted events at private homes and rented spaces. Still, in the end, be it a public or private event, DJs, dancers, and drug dealers circulated throughout them all. With Lenzen having changed names to protect the guilty, the dance communities mentioned in Soft Candy
, including "The Groove Nation" and "The Collective", were inspired by actual Bay Area dance communities present in the late-nineties, and in some cases, still operating today.
The Internet Imitating Art
On account Lenzen realized Soft Candy
would be read in an age were internet access was within arms reach at (nearly) all times, all websites referenced in Soft Candy
are populated to look exactly as they're described in the book. So if you're interested in seeing what Saint Swithin saw, just as he did in the book, be sure to visit the following websites: