Stony de Coco is eighteen and the son of a pugnacious construction worker who expects his son to follow in his footsteps, but Stony is determined to break free from this belligerent life despite opposition from everyone in his family.
Price's short stories - The Wanderers (1974) - caught all the brave and limiting postures of an Italian teen gang of the '50's. Here he taps the psychic dissolution at the core of that "combination open-air loony bin an' Red Cross disaster tent" which is the Bronx home of Stony De Coco, his frail, anorexic seven-year-old brother Albert, his spaced-out mother Marie, his father Tommy and Uncle Chubb - both construction electricians - big-talking, whoring, bound to each other by a love like baling wire. Stony nervously idles in doubt about his future in bars, apartments and motel rooms, rank with sex and buried rage, where the living is. When crazy Marie nearly kills Albert, the hospital psychiatrist, using Stony as an ally to prevent further battering, gets Stony a job doing what he likes to do - working with kids. Stony helps the black kids in wheelchairs; he protects Albert. But this is followed by two weeks on the construction site and a shared brotherhood of jovial cruelty and danger. It is the crazed rampage of Uncle Chubb, victim of the street jungle and a trick of fate, which tips the scales for Stony: "My whole family is just a bunch of little niggers in wheelchairs. . . . There's enough goddam pain in the house. . . . An' I love them and they love me. I don't hafta work in no hospital." Although the characters draw their only life from the frenetic, stabbing speechways echoing down Price's mean streets, this does not diminish the validity or impact of men on the march to nowhere. (Kirkus Reviews)