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Castellani, Christopher 1972-

CASTELLANI, Christopher 1972-

PERSONAL:

Born 1972, in Wilmington, DE. Education: Swarthmore College, B.A.; Tufts University, M.A. (English); Boston University, M.A. (creative writing).

ADDRESSES:

Agent—Mary Evans, Inc., 242 East Fifth St., New York, NY 10003. E-mail—[email protected].

CAREER:

Grub Street, Inc. (creative writing center), Boston, MA, head instructor.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Stony Brook Short Fiction Prize, award, 1992, for "You'll Be Saying the Same Thing," honorable mention, 1994; Ella T. Grasso Literary Award, 1994, for short story; Glimmer Train Press Very Short Fiction Award finalist, 2000 for "Games of 1953."

WRITINGS:

A Kiss from Maddalena, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC), 2003.

SIDELIGHTS:

Fiction writer Christopher Castellani won his first award, the Stony Brook Short Fiction Prize, when he was only a sophomore in college, and his talents have continued to develop. Castellani published his first novel, A Kiss from Maddalena, in 2003.

Castellani's debut novel is set in 1943 in the Italian village of Santa Cecilia. World War II has taken most of the men from the village, but has left behind skinny, awkward Vito Leone, who is a few months short of being eligible for the draft. Vito keeps himself occupied by taking care of his ailing mother and building a bicycle to entertain the village girls with rides while the men are away. He soon finds himself falling in love with Maddalena Piccinelli, the youngest daughter of the town's richest and most powerful family. The Piccinellis don't approve of their daughter's relationship with Vito, but the two teens continue to meet secretly, surviving their families and the war as they grow into young adults.

Critical opinion was mixed regarding A Kiss from Maddalena. Karen Holt in Booklist found the characters underdeveloped, noting that "Maddalena is often ineffectual …making it not easy for readers to care much whether, in this case, love conquers anything." A Kirkus Reviews critic expressed similar sentiments: "The beautiful final paragraph, aching with tenderness and regret, would be even more moving if …[Maddalena had] been a more engaging character." However, Catherine Parnell, in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online, praised Castellani's writing: "In the hands of a less talented writer, such a story might fall into the abyss of cliche.…Yet Castellani, writing of passion without affectation or exaggeration, deftly exposes the heart scarred by war."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, February 15, 2003, Karen Holt, review of A

Kiss from Maddalena, p. 1047. Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2003, review of A Kiss from Maddalena, p. 104.

Library Journal, March 1, 2003, Judith Kicinski, review of A Kiss from Maddalena, p. 118.

Publishers Weekly, February 10, 2003, review of A Kiss from Maddalena, p. 160.

ONLINE

Christopher Castellani Web site,http://www.christophercastellani.com (November 19, 2003).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online,http://www.jsonline.com/ (May 10, 2003), Catherine Parnell, "Young Love in the Shadow of War Makes for Sweet Reading."

State University of New York, Stony Brook Web site,http://naples.cc.sunysb.edu/ (November 19, 2003), "Christopher Castellani."*

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