Joseph Di Prisco was born in Brooklyn and lives today in Northern California, with his wife, photographer Patti James. He’s the author of the novels All for Now, The Alzhammer, The Confessions of Brother Eli, and Sun City, prize-winning books of poems, and books about childhood and adolescence. His memoirs The Pope of Brooklynand Subway to California came out from Rare Bird Books. He is the founding chair of the Simpson Family Literary Project, which promotes literacy and literature, writers and writing across the generations.
Books by Joseph Di Prisco
Enlisted by megalomaniac publisher Myron Beam, Sibella―junior editor extraordinaire―recounts the trials and tribulations of the San Francisco-based literary darling Hard Rain Publishing all the way from its improbable rise through its seemingly inevitable freefall. The whip smart, wise-cracking, and surprisingly well-read Sibella navigates the mounting eccentricities of the house’s award-winning authors, slices up her oh-so-pretentious colleagues with her razor-sharp wit, and even manages to fish her publisher out of the pub long enough to keep the whole ship afloat, all the while battling her ex-boyfriend’s meteoric success and the feintless infinity of the blank page.
But when her boss acquires the artless and arduous 900-page debut The Adventures of Calypso O’Kelly, their star author Figgy Fontana―possibly, maybe, kinda sorta―dies, and a team of con artists take aim at Myron Beam, it’s up to Sibella, her endlessly outmatched editor in chief, and a former female pornstar―no, really―to return Hard Rain and its hard-boozing, hapless publisher to their former glory.
Part tell all, part mystery, and part coming-of-age novel, Sibella & Sibella is a biting look at the world of publishing from a reluctant witness who pulls no punches with anyone. Least of all herself.
Joseph Di Prisco’s anticipated memoir brings the hustler, gambler, criminal, bookmaker, and confidential informer—Joe’s father—back to life, and reveals the fascinating and unsettling truths that simultaneously bound and separated father and son. On the street they called him Pope, and he made his bones in Brooklyn during the ’50s and ’60s when Joe was a kid and had more questions about his dad than he would dare ask. Later, when Di Prisco accidentally discovered fifty-year-old transcripts of New York State Appellate Division trials, where his dad was the star witness against corrupt NYPD cops—cops with whom he collaborated—Pope’s hazardous, veiled, twisted past was finally illuminated. The Pope of Brooklyn is both sequel and prequel to his much-praised memoir, Subway to California. Enlightened by these disclosures, Di Prisco flawlessly traces how secrets once revealed led to even deeper mysteries both for himself and for the reader.
In 1960, the Di Priscos fled Brooklyn—and the FBI. The father was a gambler and bookmaker, and agents chased him into the Long Island woods because he was implicated in police corruption. At thirty-five he escaped to a strange place called California, where his wife and two of her four sons joined him. One member of the family graduated high school, and he would make books of a different sort. Joe didn’t seem called to a life of crime, but evidence is mixed. Once he was Brother Joseph in a Catholic novitiate, but later he was named prime suspect in a racketeering investigation. During Vietnam he seized his college administration building, and then played blackjack around the world, staked by big-money backers. He managed Italian restaurants with laughable ineptitude, but also did graduate study and taught for twenty years. Eventually Joe buries his unstable, manipulative, and beautiful mother and his brothers, including his heroin-addicted younger brother. Later he cares for his father with Alzheimer’s. By turns heartbreaking and hilarious, Subway to California recounts Joe’s battles with personal demons, bargains struck with angels, and truces with family in this richly colorful tale that reads like great fiction.