In Other Words Sacred Smokes by Theodore C. Van Alst Jr.
In an autobiographical collection of linked short stories by Theodore C. Van Alst Jr., the teenage Teddy is a member of a Chicago street gang in the 1970s. He knows the city like the back of his hand. He knows whose turf is whose, all the tags of different gangs, which El stops are safe and which aren’t, and every pizza place and second-run movie theater on the North Side — as well as where the drug fronts are. Teddy is a storyteller who entertains his friends with darkly offbeat hero’s journeys during drinking sessions by the tracks in the woods in winter. His friends are drunk and high, ruthless in their treatment of one another, yet often funny and warm, as family can be. Teddy’s future self — the self that slips in and out to narrate or periodically add bits of perspective to his stories — remains a cynic who is also basically openhearted, and who is more than a little bit enamored of his youthful ability to put up with endless amounts of random violence from all corners of his life.