Monday, 5 May 2008

The Wanderers by Richard Price

The Wanderers by Richard Price was a first novel written in 1974 and draws on his teenage years around the Bronx street gangs of the early 60’s. It became a successful movie in 1979, which like the book went on to be a cult classic. Richard Price went on to write many other street crime stories such as Clockers and many successful screenplays as in The Colour of Money..

The story follows the last months of members of a teenage street gang called The Wanderers. These are an all-Italian gang comprising of 27 members. They wear bright yellow/brown jackets and blue jeans. Their leader, Richie, is dating Despie Galasso, the daughter of an infamous mobster, so The Wanderers have connections We also get involved with the fights and alliance of the other local gangs such as

  • The Fordham Baldies: As their name suggests, they are all bald, reportedly to prevent their hair from getting in their eyes during a fight.

  • The Del Bombers: The toughest all-black gang in the Bronx.

  • Ducky Boys: An all-Irish gang , all short- 5'6" and under and the most vicious

  • The Wongs: An Chinese gang, all with the last name of "Wong" and highly skilled in Jiu-Jitsu

But it’s more then being in a gang as we explore their relationships, schools, neighbourhoods and often dysfunctional families. Its not a book for the politically correct or maiden aunts, you get unfiltered real street language and behaviour and no moral judgements by the author. The bad aren’t punished and the good rewarded, its left messy as in real life. The story whilst a novel is structured like a series of inter connected short stories so characters pop in and out of the set events as we move through the lives of the gang members. I should add apart from the high energy dialogue many of the scenes are funny,( ask me about the lasso, stone and what was tied to the rope when thrown over a bridge!) sad and even chilling. Well worth reading

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