Psychopomps by Alex DiFrancesco


ISBN: 978-1-948700-13-9
146 pages
Release Date: February 15, 2019
Civil Coping Mechanisms

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“We can write our own stories so much better than those who use us to glimpse what it’s like on the outside.”

In 2010, Alex DiFrancesco had a different name and was a missing person. Alone in a mental hospital, they began to have fantasies of running away permanently, changing their name, growing a beard. In their journey to coming out as transgender, DiFrancesco moved from New York City to the Midwest. Psychopomps follows them on the search for family, marriage, relationships with other trans people, attempts to build community, and for the elusive link to ancient beliefs about the special spiritual role of the trans individual in society.


Psychopomps is a book about transformation—and how any self can’t help but change, disappear, revise, rebuild while in the process of becoming itself.  “I am the Wizard of Oz,” the persona says, “shouting from the balloon that rises into the air, ‘I can’t come back, I don’t know how it works!'”  I will follow this voice no matter what lands it travels, because what it brings back is wisdom.  Psychopompsis populated with the wisdom that comes from inhabiting liminal space—a village we might call Not Knowing How Things Work.  And yet somehow DiFrancesco remakes not just the land below, not just the balloon and its mechanisms, but the air that holds us up, the air that enters our lungs, the very elements that keeps us alive, hungry for more beauty.  Once I’d finished reading Psychopomps, I felt heartbroken.  And so I started all over and felt it again—heartbroken, and healed.

James Allen Hall, author of I Liked You Better Before I Knew You So Well

Alex addresses questions many of us aren’t brave enough to ask—about the lives we choose for ourselves and the lives we don’t. Empathy and humility shine through this immensely readable prose in a collection that seems to connect the dots of everything that matters: friendship, love, identity and, of course, ghosts.

–Mary Adkins, author of When You Read This

Psychopomps is a book about searching: searching for identity, searching for love, searching for family. In so writing, DiFrancesco has brought themselves closer to all of us, with their vibrant prose and messy humanity. Psychopomps often explores a marriage during which both partners change their gender identity and in the process lose each other. Their relationship feels both extraordinary and completely ordinary, because it is. DiFrancesco shows us that there is a little bit of all of us in everyone.

Joselin Linder, author of The Family Gene

Psychopomps is a collection of essays that examines not just the ways in which we are torn apart, but more importantly, the ways we knit ourselves back together. DiFrancesco has a deft hand with language and a keen insight into themself and others, and this collection captures what it means to be young and bent toward justice in this moment in time.

Sarah Einstein, author of Mot: A Memoir

ALEX DIFRANCESCO is a writer of fiction and nonfiction whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, Tin House, Brevity, and more. They are a 2017 winner of SAFTA’s OUTSpoken Competition, and were long listed in Cosmonauts Avenue’s Inaugural Nonfiction Prize. They have recently moved to Ohio, where they are still trying to wrap their head around “Sweetest Day.”



Photo credit: Evan Duly