Books by Joseph Di Prisco
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.