Book is just what the ‘Doc’ ordered

Paul “Doc” Gaccione’s unique book recounts one man’s complex life story.


By Karen Zautyk

‘You could take 100 people,” Paul “Doc” Gaccione told us the other day, “and every single one of them would see me in a different way.”
Odds are those perceptions will be even more varied, and complex, now that Gaccione has told his story in a book.
Or is it his story, an autobiography? Perhaps it’s a novel? A mystery? Something else?
Gaccione himself refuses to label it, asking merely that his readers use the book, “Beyond the Beyond,” to sit as jurors “in the trial which is his life.” And “Beyond the Beyond” refers to what is out there after death. The book is a personal record of the author’s spiritual journey.
As of now, Gaccione, 63, is scheduled to face actual jurors at a real-life trial in January. He is currently free on $1 million bail on a charge of murder in the second degree in connection with his alleged role in a Mafia hit in 1992. He was not arrested until April 2010, when federal authorities showed up at his Lyndhurst home and he landed in Rikers Island jail.
Back in  ’92, a man named Angelo Sangiuolo was shot dead in the Bronx on orders from a cousin, Genovese crime family capo Angelo Prisco, who is now serving life in prison. The triggerman, John (Johnny Balls) Leto, was convicted in 2009.
Gaccione is accused of being the getaway driver. He faces 25 to life if convicted.
As noted in the book, it’s not the first time the author has faced a serious criminal charge. As a young man – one who was an amateur boxing champion – he got into an altercation in the parking lot of the Lyndhurst Diner. The other guy threw the first punch, Gaccione writes, but he responded, and the combatant “went down, hit his head on the ground, and died.”
Gaccione stood trial for manslaughter, but the jury found him not guilty, deciding he had acted in self-defense. But he gave up all his “childhood dreams” of a pro boxing career.
Are you inclined to judge him yet? You shouldn’t. Not until you read the book.
One of the most moving chapters, a look into the heart, describes Gaccione’s reaction to a sermon in his local church. He had sent his manuscript to his pastor for reaction, but had received no response. Then, one Sunday, this same priest spoke from the pulpit about people who use God for their own glorification, their own ego.
Gaccione took this as a personal message, shaking him to the core and filling him with doubt and guilt and a sickness of the soul. It is painful to read the words as he sits in judgment of his own motives in writing. When we spoke of this incident the other day, Gaccione told me, “the closest thing” to this sickness he experienced “was the feeling I had when I heard that the man at the Lyndhurst Diner had passed away.”
Gaccione came to terms with his self-criticism over the writing of the book, noting that “only God knows what is in my heart and mind, and we can’t fool Him.”
“Beyond the Beyond” recounts a number of extraordinary events that prompted the writing of a book by someone who admits to never having read a book in his life. He has, though, been especially influenced by author Dinesh D’Souza, whom he quotes. So he read D’Souza, right? “I listened to the CD,” he explained.
There is one incident, in particular, which Gaccione believes was a glimpse into the “Beyond the Beyond,” that will give you chills. And, perhaps, hope.
Gaccione is a great believer in destiny, and the book – which was born in a moment of suicidal despair – is part of his, he says. He believes, too, in our own ability to influence our destiny – and of the power of the positive over the negative.
It is also filled with some humorous accounts of his growing up in Lyndhurst, and longtime residents may recognize some of the characters.
And for someone who says he “ain’t the smartest guy,“ Gaccione can be deeply intellectual. Not in the pompous ivory-tower way, but in the way that makes you think. Ponder. Examine your own beliefs and emotions.
Writing about the funeral of a close friend, a popular man whose death drew lines of mourners to the funeral home and a cortege that stretched for what seemed like miles, Gaccione notes that “soon he will be forgotten.”
“It might take a couple of decades for family and close friends to slowly lose his memory, but like every other person, that is what will happen. Yes there are people whose memory lives on, like Michelangelo or George Washington. It could be for 100 years or a thousand years, but it’s all a drop in the bucket when we speak of ‘eternity.‘ And, when we get down to it, what is a memory, if that’s all there is to eternity?”
Now that is profound.
“Beyond the Beyond,” from Brighton Publishing, has been released as an eBook and will be available in print form by the end of October.

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