From Publishers Weekly
Sopranos actor Pantoliano, who plays the belligerent and misogynistic Ralph Cifaretto, enters the celebrity memoir arena with a jovial account of his 1950s and '60s youth in Hoboken and Fort Lee, N.J. In addition to his familiar Sopranos role, Pantoliano has appeared in over 60 movies, including Memento and The Fugitive, and will make his directorial debut with the upcoming Just Like Mona. But he saves his career for future volumes, instead concentrating here on his eccentric Italian-American family and the stormy relationship and "shared misery" of his parents, Mommy and Monk. Equal space goes to his relatives, girlfriends and childhood "pals in the projects," a gang of "piss-ant grade-schoolers" who broke into railroad cars to steal whatever they found. Young Joey's grades suffered, and by junior high, he lived in a "dyslexic bubble," but wound up righting himself by acting in school plays, eventually moving to regional theater and, finally, Hollywood. Chapters are headlined with street addresses ("310 Jackson Street," "159 Palisade Avenue"), noting each of the family's evictions or moves to yet another Garden State location. Readers meet colorful characters, including cousin "Patty-Boy," local dogcatcher Uncle Popeye and wise guy Florie, who moves in after exiting the Atlanta Penitentiary ("A New York mobster in the house had serious cachet for a twelve-year-old"). The once-dyslexic "Joey Pants" writes with energy, humor and honesty, and his passionate closing chapter, with Joey attempting to break away from his clinging, cursing Mommy to become a big-time actor, is the icing on the cake.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Although Joey Pants, as he calls himself in his hugely entertaining autobiography, will be instantly familiar to fans of the television series The Sopranos (he plays Ralph Cifaretto), the actor has been around for years, turning in wonderful performances in films such as Midnight Run and television fare such as NYPD Blue. Born and raised in Hoboken, New Jersey, the author came out of a working-class family. His parents were problem gamblers, and the family was periodically uprooted and moved to a new apartment after failing to pay their rent. He grew up among wise guys, and one of his closest relatives was assumed to be a killer. Pantoliano writes in a style that will be instantly familiar to his fans: tough, outspoken, but with a charming side, too. The author's somewhat convoluted route from street kid to actor is downright fascinating, and in one fell swoop, he proves to be as fine a writer as he is an actor. One warning, though: he peppers his prose with profanity and makes no apologies for it. It's entirely appropriate for the story he's telling (he came out of a time and place where cursing was a part of everyday speech), but it might offend some readers. David Pitt
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