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Picture of Anita Felicelli

Biography

Anita Felicelli is the author of Izzy and Poe, a children’s book about two corgis; a novel, Sparks Off You; and the poetry collection, Letters to an Albatross. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in the New York Times, Salon, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Rumpus, Verdict, Publishing Perspectives, Babble, Juked, Kweli Journal, The Aerogram, and the Mountain View Voice.

Anita's short stories have twice been finalists in the Glimmer Train awards. Her essay on Rabindranath Tagore, published in India Currents, was awarded first place for magazine feature/column by the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club in 2014. Anita is a graduate of UC Berkeley and UC Berkeley School of Law. She was born in India and grew up in Northern California, where she lives with her family, which includes two corgis. 

 

If Maya was happy, Julie could dance. Julie was spun until the hot, dusty room blurred like watercolors, until the music slipped into silver, blush, saffron, and teal, until her older sister’s energy flagged. Whenever Maya danced, her eyes went wild, her slender hips undulated, and her dark, downy skin shimmered with sweat as if layered with dew. Julie worried her sister would evaporate into the relentless August light.

During the summer of 1991, California experienced a drought so powerful that the state issued an advisory, and the manicured lawns of Mayfield, overwatered as a matter of course, even during the wet winters, turned brown, dotted with daisies and the phantom forms of dandelions on the verge of losing their seeds. That same summer, Maya sped around town in a rust-streaked yellow Yugo, blasting the radio. She’d come screeching to a halt at the sidewalk in front of the school where Julie stood waiting for her after class, and then slowly inch forward again, so that Julie had to take a running skip into the passenger seat to keep up.

Julie clutched the sides of the mushy seat cushion as the car leaped forward, zipped around the block, and headed for home. The neighborhood boys, trained over the years by Maya’s antics, started their street baseball games only after the sisters came home. The elderly women trimming juniper bushes, watering front lawns, or walking their dogs off-leash gave up, glaring indignantly at the Randeria sisters as they rocketed by. Singing and squinting like punk stars, they cruised down the street where they lived. You could tell it was those two coming. 

from the novel Sparks Off You

Contact Anita on Twitter (@anitafelicelli) or find her on Pinterest or Goodreads

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Books

Izzy and Poe

 Izzy and Poe are two corgis looking for adventure when a mischievous parrot says he can show them how to fly. Illustrated children's book for ages 4-8. Available in a premium color softcover edition that best features the beautiful illustrations, a lower-priced trade edition or a durable standard color hardcover.

 

Soon to be released for Kindle Fire.


10% of all profits made for this book will be donated to corgi rescue.


Sparks Off You

 

2012 ForeWord Book of the Year Finalist (YA)

 

Julie Randeria has always worshipped her smart, independent older sister Maya. When Julie follows Maya to a community college physics class, she sees her degraded and loses faith in her. Sometimes when you lose a little bit of faith, you start along a path to losing all of your self, too. Alienated both from each other and a society determined to see them as exotic others, each sister strikes out on her own as their family mythology continues to unravel. Lyrical and provocative, "Sparks Off You" is an existential coming of age novel that follows two Indian-American sisters trying to find their reality in the Bay Area at the dawn of the tech boom. 

"If THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER had a more literary, female cousin, it would be SPARKS OFF YOU. SPARKS whisks me back to my own high school years with an aching visceral clarity -- it haunts and it hurts, but it's a good kind of pain” —Phoebe Kitanidis, author of WHISPER, GLIMMER and BE MY YOKO ONO

 

Letters to an Albatross

Letters to an Albatross is a collection of poetry that sticks its fingers into as much of the slam-cram strangeness of the world as it can, moving from the vertiginous magic of the Galapagos Islands to a tsunami's assault on South India and from the darkness of fairytales to a glimpse of whales off a Bay Area bridge.

These poems “embody a ceaseless spirit in a work of great beauty and force, of intelligence and stark humility.” —Geoffrey Gatza, author of Kenmore: Poems Unlimited

“A freshly auspicious debut” —Eileen Tabios, author of The Thorn Rosary

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Other Work

Select Essays & Journalism

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Blog Posts

I have a new memoir/essay at The Rumpus about an abortion, the passage of time, and The Galapagos: The Waved Albatross. I'm totally taken with the original illustrations by Marc Pearson.

"Two waved albatrosses dip and bend before clicking long gold beaks together, one-two-three-four-five. Already short birds, when their faces near the ground, their beaks, barely hooked at the tip, remain parallel to it. Although their slender necks are white as ice, a careful painter would have to shade in the tiny “waves” of grey and brown at the base of their necks where their plumage shades to the color of butter before darkening to charcoal. Their flattened heads make them look whittled out of wood like marionettes, rather than made of feathers. 

The pair taps back and forth in rapid succession, before one pulls away to point his or her beak at the sky or open his beak wide. After they duel, they dip again, walking around each other honking, as they bob their heads from side to side and strut. Courtship for waved albatrosses looks like a duel, but it leads to love, a charming illustration of the idea that mimicry is a way of empathizing."

Category: Blog

Other than the time spent with my daughter and husband and corgis, I have to say 2014 was a bust and I'm hoping that 2015 is a different, better reality. The number of failures by society, cops, our government, and the legal system this year were both utterly commonplace and wholly disturbing. This is also the year that Galway Kinnell, my favorite poet died. The father of one of my oldest friends died. This year my daughter started preschool and started bringing germs home with her every week —I have been sick perhaps 25% of 2014 and consequently a little blue/melancholy/down for around the same amount of time. In fact, I am closing out the year sick (today).

There were some highlights, though, most of them literary. Usually there are some amazing meals and movies and theater in any given year, but I did very little purely for fun in 2014. And I'm not somebody who thrives on doing things out of obligation/duty - quite the opposite. 

Reading: I discovered Elena Ferrante - Days of Abandonment and My Brilliant Friend are incredible, intoxicating, their own reality. I also read some other wonderful books, including Porochista Khakpour's The Last Illusion. I talked to her for PopMatters here. And I loved Xiaolu Guo's I am China. I talked to her for Los Angeles Review of Books here.  I reviewed around 8 books, most of which were good, but I think eight for free is too many. I'm cutting back on book reviews, though I still love publicists who send me books to consider. The book I reviewed that most influenced me was Helen Oyeyemi's ravishingly weird novel about race in America Boy, Snow, Bird. That review is over at The Rumpus.

Writing: I started a total rewrite of Chimerica, at the suggestion of the wise novelist/poet Chris Abani who I met at VONA. I haven't finished it yet, and am a little bit winded trying to finish the second half. It feels different than the other two times I've wholesale rewritten the book since 2009. I also got some good feedback from Porochista Khakpour, who was generous in her help and told me there needed to be more of all the things I'd cut out in the last rewrite.

This year I also joined as an associate editor the good folks at The Aerogram, which published a serialized version of the first section of my novel-in-progress The Great Sari and Mango Novel. Also - placed as a finalist in Glimmer Train's short story awards for a story about Subashini, one of the characters in The Great Sari and Mango Novel.

My early-reader book Izzy and Poe is still on sale, and I wish more people would give it a try. This year it won a Bronze Medal with the Children's Book Moonbeam Awards (in the Early Reader category), and most people who get it for their kids seem to like it.  

Sometimes I look back on my personal essays and I am not crazy about them. I like them, but sometimes they are either more polemical or more straightforwardly stated than what I actually feel. It seems that my personal essays are the most-read things that I write, and maybe the contrarian in me can't help but hate what's most popular in my work. Just as a gut reflex, I want to take a red pen to take out the things that other people seem to like. Often I want to argue with myself in places where I didn't explicitly state the opposite feeling that I feel. Usually the lawyer in me tries not to set forth all the contradictions in what I think for the sake of clarity. But there are lots of places in my writing I know I should unpack something more. Word count prevents that. A very straightforward essay of mine that I do still really like a lot and believe was published last spring at Salon: Of Course She's Pretty.

The best nonfiction I have ever written (about a long, sad period of illness) has found no takers in its third year of me fiddling with the language and trying to place it. I find that writing into a culture is always easier than writing out of it, and yet the art is in the writing out of a culture, in standing outside, I feel. And so I find it both worrisome and right that I can't place this piece, which goes against all reason and yet is true. Maybe I just feel like outside is where the art is because being outside is my natural position and therefore I privilege it. I don't know. That is what I take away from 2014—that there is a vast amount that I don't know. Maybe that is an obvious sort of epiphany—unseemly for someone almost at 40—but I read a lot of online essays whose authors are so sure of themselves that sometimes I forget that all of us are operating on (drastically) insufficient information.

Resolutions for 2015: Everyone's resolutions always seem to be about restraint, but my natural position is restraint. 2014 was all about restraint, and therefore was not much fun. My resolution is hedonism - I am going to insist on doing more solely for pleasure and jettisoning the rest.

Happy New Year!

Category: Blog

I've had a hectic, difficult year, and the fall vanished in a haze of work and toddler antics, so I haven't posted here in a long time. However, I took the week off this week and so I have time and capacity to belatedly post two things.

Recently LARB ran my interview with a wonderful novelist Xiaolu Guo, which you can read here: http://bit.ly/1C2xa7N.

The Aerogram serialized a section of my fourth novel, which is currently in progress — The Great Sari and Mango Novel. You can read it here: http://bit.ly/1jXyIrt.

Category: Blog

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