Art imitates life in New Paltz alumnus Frank Marcopolos’ novel “Almost Home.”
The book is set on the New Paltz campus, following the lives of two college baseball players. Marcopolos pitched for the Hawks for four years while attending school, so the theme of baseball hardly comes out of left field.
“I have a lot of personal knowledge and experience with the sport, and it was natural to use it as part of the story,” Marcopolos said.
The novel centers on two main characters: Enzo Prinziatta, a short-tempered baseball player from the Bronx who dreams of becoming a professional athlete, and Barry Budiski, a teammate who is a wealthy fraternity leader and class president hoping to be a successful business man.
The novel follows the characters through countless twists and turns, showing the struggles they face with teammates, peers, girlfriends as well as with their own emotions and destructive behaviors. The book shifts from the college campus to the town, peering into off-campus parties, the baseball field and back to campus again.
The story begins as a murder mystery, but as it unfolds, the conflict between the main characters becomes more apparent.
“I suppose there may be other little things about Enzo that have come from me organically,” Marcopolos said. “But, overall, the characters are a combination of a composite of multiple people, things completely made up and stuff from me.”
The book’s setting is based on and around the New Paltz campus, from the bars and restaurants in town. There are mentions of McKenna Theatre, the athletic fields and center, Hasbrouck Dining Hall and the Drama Club several times throughout the novel.
Marcopolos attributes this sense of familiarity to creating the setting of his book.
“The setting of the novel derives from my general knowledge of the campus, plus my experience of having worked at McKenna Theatre, where one of my duties was to put up posters everywhere for upcoming performances,” Marcopolos said. “I’ve found that, for me, I need to have an authentic, personal understanding of whatever setting my stories are in.”
Patricia Michelini, a New Paltz alumna, met Marcopolos at New Paltz in 1992. The alumni were residents of Bevier Hall. Michelini and Marcopolos lost touch after graduation, but rekindled their friendship a few years ago.
“Frank is very driven. He believes in the power of writing and storytelling and is passionate about showing that power to others,” Michelini said. “He is extremely dedicated to the craft of writing, always finding ways to improve himself.”
Michelini was able to read Marcopolos’ novel from a more intimate perspective. As a former student, she said that the novel hit home for her.
“I loved the fact that [the novel] took place at New Paltz,” Michelini said. “I have many, many fond memories there, and it was really fun to read a story and be able to recognize the places in it and think, ‘I was there.’”
Marcopolos said he always knew he wanted to become a writer. The Brooklyn native traveled to New Paltz to attend college and study English, graduating in the winter of 1994.
Marcopolos began writing “Almost Home” in 2007. He said that it took him years to write, having gone through thousands of edits and restructurings to reach the final product. It was published in 2011 as an electronic version only, available through downloads on amazon.com.
Marcopolos said e-books are the way to go these days.
“It seems to me that’s where the future of publishing is going, so I didn’t want to kill any more trees just for the sake of my ego being able to gaze upon the glories of a traditional, paper book,” Marcopolos said.