The Only Child is a novel set in the South. An only child is born into a family with many relatives. Each dies until the boy is alone to fend for himself. His mother has a broken back. His father resents the ‘mistake’ the boy was. Instead, he spends a lot of time with his great-aunt and great-uncle. The great-uncle is a professional gambler. They run a boarding house. The Cisco Kids comes for a visit. The only child is Catholic in a protestant mill town. He has many fights. In high school he encounters sex, and violence. Finally, he drops out of college, and, engaged, finds work in a diner called The City Pig. He is independent at last. The Only Child is about growing up in the South, but a cotton mill South.