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David Kukoff and Joseph Di Prisco at Books, Inc. Opera Plaza


Children of the Canyon tells the story of David, a boy growing up in L.A.’s fabled Laurel Canyon neighborhood as the 1960s counterculture is coming to an end. David’s record producer father works with the reclusive former leader of a surf music band on an album that promises to elevate the legacies of both men to immortal status. His distant, peripatetic mother rides the waves of activism and feminism in and out of David’s life. The elusive Topanga, named for the city’s last remaining Eden, whom David meets on the beach the night of his parents’ separation continues to elude his futile attempts to reconnect with her throughout the decade. Through David’s eyes, we bear witness to the fallout from the California Dream’s malfunction: the ruined families, failed revolutionaries, curdled musical idealism, and, ultimately, the rise of the conservatism that put the country on its present path.

David Kukoff, author of Children of the Canyon, and Joseph Di Prisco, author of Subway to California at Books, Inc. Opera Plaza in San Francisco, CA

Books Inc. Opera Plaza | 601 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94107


In 1960, the Di Prisco family fled Brooklyn—and the FBI. The father was a compulsive gambler and small-time member of a crew that specialized in bookmaking. He knew too much about police corruption to stick around and break bread with federal agents who on Sunday afternoon tracked him into the woods of Long Island. He escaped at age thirty-five and ended up in a strange place called California, where his Brooklyn-born wife and two of her four sons eventually joined him. One of those sons, Joe, would be the only one in the family to graduate from high school, and he would come to make book of a different sort.

He wasn’t called to a life of crime, but the evidence is mixed. One day, Joe himself would be named the prime suspect in a federal racketeering investigation. This was somebody who, as a young man, lived as a Brother in a Roman Catholic novitiate. During Vietnam he was an activist who took over his college’s administration building. He played blackjack professionally around the world, staked by big-money backers. He managed Italian restaurants with laughable ineptitude. He also did graduate study and taught for twenty years.

In time, though, Joe buried his unstable, manipulative, and beautiful mother and all three brothers, including his heroin-addicted younger brother. Later, Joe cares for his father as he holds on for years against the ravages of Alzheimer’s. By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Subway to California recounts Joe’s battles with his personal demons, bargains struck with angels, and truces with his family in this richly colorful tale that reads like great fiction.