This week we welcome author Ralph Feliciello. Born of Italian immigrants, he grew up in El Sereno/Los Angeles, has lived in San Francisco and Rome, Italy, and has made Jackson Heights his home for over 30 years. Locals may know him as a founding member of Friends of Tennis in Jackson Heights. Ralph is married to modern dancer/choreographer Katherine Howard. Their son, Nicholas Howard, is a singer-songwriter and accomplished sound engineer. Feliciello is a member of PEN America, Dramatists Guild, SAG-AFTRA and Actors’ Equity. He is the author of the play “Santa Lucia,” the screenplay “Mother May I,” and the novella 3 American Cranks.
He has just published a new novella, Florentia and the Pazzi Boy, a fanciful, Fellini-esque Renaissance tale of three young friends on a prison island off the coast of Tuscany who struggle together – and sometimes at odds – to overcome lies, abuse, and the threat of execution, in the hope of escaping to the New World of promise across the sea.
“In 1478, during Easter Mass in the cathedral of Florence, assassins cut down Giuliano de’ Medici, while in the servants’ quarters of Palazzo Pazzi, a kitchen maid gives birth to the natural child of the chief conspirator. Lorenzo de’ Medici vows that the newborn must die to avenge his father’s crime. The infant, secreted out of Florence, grows to young manhood as a gravedigger on a remote island, unaware of his birth in a palazzo or that the Pazzi clan, on their way to claim their long-lost heir, must outrace the Medici-hired killer bent on seeing the boy does not survive his eighteenth year.
The Pazzi boy and beautiful but distant Florentia, meanwhile, struggle to liberate themselves from the de facto lord of the island, a defrocked priest who controls their destinies. Hope of escaping to the New World comes with the discovery of an ancient, underground temple to Venus who, from a marvelous fresco, promises her aid – if their love proves true.”
A young boy began strumming an instrument Placido had only seen on a woodcut in the pages of a book. The children joined hands and voices in sweet harmony. And Placido watched as, far beyond the ship’s widening wake, the island of his childhood drifted further and further away, diminishing in all dimensions, until there was very little to see, then nothing but endless sky floating upon an endless sea.
“Florentia and the Pazzi Boy” and the author’s other books are available here.