I know how good of a writer Richard Price is, from reading this and Freedomland, and from his excellent work on The Wire, but he has yet to really blow me away. I am reading Clockers next year, and hope that is the one that will do it for me. I just don’t want to give up on him quite yet. He bucks trends in favor of a gritty, unpretentious yet eloquent style that brings a beauty to street life, and while The Wanderers is not great, it does it’s job of honestly exploring the life of inner-city youth gangs in 50’s New York. The plot is very simple, and follows a select few members of this gang known as The Wanderers, they are not the toughest gang or the scariest, but they do a good job of defending themselves in times of danger, and are loyal, even when they do terrible things. The real draw of this book is the dialogue, which is obviously reminiscent of early Hubert Selby, if you liked Last Exit to Brooklyn, this will definitely be up your ally. It also has great moments of humor, especially when talking about sex. But it can also turn dark and depressing, which shows Prices grasps the emotional states of these young people from an internal standpoint, which makes it come off as truthful. The things that really bothered me were the lack of any real standout characters. They seemed to be an amalgamation of many different kinds of emotions, and seemed to lack any depth unless they were talking to each other. For all of Price’s honesty, this is a major flaw. It is also very pedestrian in how it sometimes allows itself to rely solely on shock instead of something more creative, which I blame on Price being 24 when he wrote this. It is very much like Less Than Zero, in how it tries too hard to label a certain social group of a certain time, and is now acts as simply an artifact of that time instead of an enduring story. If you like funny dialogue that is quick and snappy and so sharp it may slice your finger tips, this book will be for you. But if you have outgrown the kind of books that think they are cooler than they are, it is for Price completest only. And if you have read Clockers, let me know what it is like.