Rails to reading on 1 train in novel


For many people, trips on the 1 train is merely a ride from one point to the next. But for Matthew Curcio, it’s inspiration.

Curcio chronicled those thoughts in a book he self-published last year called “1 Train,” a novel about Cameron Grayson, a college student who finds himself collecting his late grandfather’s belongings that are now his, taking him on an adventure from Manhattan to the Bronx. 

While on the train, Grayson learns more about himself through interactions he has with fellow commuters.

Although the work is fiction, Curico based those experiences from his daily commute while a Manhattan College student. 

“I found myself taking the 1 train everywhere, whether it was going out on the weekends with friends, or going to visit someone in the city,” Curcio said. “I kind of used the subway as a platform to really learn about who I was by looking at other people and observing them. That is what inspired me, looking at other people and observing the hustle and flow.”

Many of those real-life interactions made it into the novel, such as Grayson dealing with beggars, or meeting a professor from Columbia University. However, Curcio was most fond of running into elder people on the subway because of the stories they told.

That’s what makes the 1 train so great, Curcio said — everybody there is equal regardless of background, creating experiences that are unparalleled.

“As crazy as it sounds, I learned more on the 1 train than I did in class,” Curcio said. “It’s almost like a journey where you learn about the culture of New York just through one train ride.”

After his freshman year, Curcio started writing down experiences. By the time he reached his senior year, Curcio had penned 50,000 words — enough to make him realize it might be time to make it a novel.

Curcio’s friends, however, didn’t share his enthusiasm.

“Some of them were saying, ‘Oh, yeah sure,’ kind of like playing me off,” Curcio said. “But I was just able to use that as motivation to publish.”

Now out of school and not exactly a regular passenger on the 1 train anymore, Curcio feels privileged to have had a chance to find perspective he might not have found otherwise.

“Most people look at the train ride like a really smelly, crappy ride from Point A to Point B,” Curcio said. “For me, it was a learning experience that I was glad that I got to go through.”