"A beautiful, heartfelt, sometimes funny, occasionally harrowing story of a man making his way through the minefield of his own family history. Di Prisco has lived more lives than most of us, and managed to get it all down in this riveting book." Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight and Bad Sex On Speed
“Di Prisco delivers thoughtful contemplation of the human condition and plenty of self-examination that reveals how he made it to where he is, and why he survived when others didn’t. His sharp wit and hard-won wisdom make Subway to California a story that anyone who’s risen out of a hardscrabble life with the odds stacked against them will love and learn from.” ForeWord Reviews
“[Di Prisco] 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.’”Kirkus Reviews
"Brimming with humor, heartbreak, and at times the feel an old time Catholic confessional, Subway to California is a one-of-a-kind read. Joseph Di Prisco's story evokes a time and place that is no longer part of the American landscape; a place where loyalty to family, neighborhood, and way of life was the norm. At A Great Good Place for Books we can't wait to place it in our customers' hands." Kathleen Caldwell, A Great Good Place for Books
“From his tough, chaotic childhood and the tortuous misadventures of his young adulthood, Joseph Di Prisco has crafted an achingly tenderand frequently funnymemoir, a book replete with all the rich unfolding and poetic reflection of a novel, and all the focused research and unsparing truth-seeking of biography. Moving seamlessly between past and present, between the Church and the casino, scholarship and addiction, Brooklyn and the Bay Area, Di Prisco gives us a dizzying aerial view of a life, and of a familyan account that is at once an intimate meditation on the author’s interior life, and a gripping family history reaching back to Ellis Island in the 1920s.
Threaded throughout is the author’s irreverent, ecstatic love of words, of storytelling, an affirmation of the transcendent grace that literature can offer. Di Prisco’s prose, like his poetry, is imbued with a rare warmth and graceand he’s brought these talents to bear on his remarkable personal history in this captivating memoir.” Laura Cogan, Editor-in-Chief, ZYZZYVA
“What Joe DiPrisco has written here is likely to become the standard-bearer for all future memoirs
A comedy and tragedy filled with paternal pratfalls, missteps and odd criminal adventures, all of which cast Joe onto the road as a gambler, teacher, writer, political activist, accused criminal in his own right, father and husband, and so much more! This Subway ride is the real deal.” Steven Gillis, The Consequence of Skating and The Law of Strings
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.