Richard Price may now be better known for his film work or his urban crime dramas. But his early novels are excellent examinations of working-class families and the pressures they face. Probably my favorite early Price novel is Blood Brothers. Published in 1976, this book follows the difficult decisions facing eighteen-year-old Stony De Coco. His pugnacious father expects Stony to get his union card and follow in his footsteps by the teenager has other plans. Particularly memorable is Stony’s uncle Chubby, the guardian angel and protector that every teenage boy needs.
This book could easily be cliche. Working-class family, tough times, sexual explorations, brawling in the neighborhood, New Yawk accents. Throw in a leather coat and a greasy pompadour and you’ve got just another entry into a long list of stereotypical depictions of this culture. But Price injects humanity and individuality into his characters. Stony rebels against joining the union not because he wants to be a singer or actor or a dancer in the discos. Instead, he fights to work at a hospital for kids. There is a surprising sweetness to these people.
Pick up Blood Brothers here: