SUBWAY TO CALIFORNIA by Joseph Di Prisco

SUBWAY TO CALIFORNIA

KIRKUS REVIEW

A self-confessed “minor poet” and “novelist famous for his obscurity” reflects on his strange, eventful life.

“Stories happen,” writes Di Prisco (All for Now, 2012, etc.), “to people who can tell them.” Indeed. By age 36, the author had abandoned a novitiate, achieved minor celebrity as an undergraduate anti-war activist, suffered a string of failed romances with wholly unsuitable women (including fathering a son by a hippie chick who refused to marry him), managed a couple of restaurants in San Francisco and garnered a doctorate in English from Berkeley. On the way to completing his dissertation, he also developed an immoderate taste for alcohol, cocaine, gambling on sports and counting cards at blackjack tables. Di Prisco traces the reasons for his dance between decency and delinquency to his Brooklyn boyhood. A fearful, precocious child, the “perfect School Boy” grew up with three misfit brothers (all now dead) raised by two profane sociopaths in a home where the only set points on the volume control were “silence and screaming.” His Polish mother was a conniving, manipulative woman so egregious her own physician once remarked, “if she was my mother, I would have committed suicide.” She sliced up the author with lines like, “I had sons who died who loved me.” His Italian father was a small-time hustler and con man whose eventual pursuit by the FBI accounted for the family’s hasty 1961 escape to California. “Popey” puzzled and frustrated the young Di Prisco with cryptic advice like, “Don’t count your money in front of no windows.” The author can break your heart recalling the most romantic memory of his life or make you laugh out loud when, for example, he defines the Catholic notion of Limbo: “not a horrible place, not a great place, sort of like parts of Staten Island.”

A subway ride with many stops, almost all of them interesting and entertaining.

Pub Date: Aug. 12th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-940207-35-3
Page count: 386pp
Publisher: Rare Bird Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2014




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