Grant Avenue

My first work of fiction, Grant Avenue, is now available on Amazon & Createspace as an Ebook and paperback. Also available locally at Scuppernong Books in Greensboro, NC. Below is a brief synopsis of the short stories followed by an excerpt from, “The Rental House.”

Growing up in a working class neighborhood during the sixties and seventies, a boy nurtures the improbable dream of becoming a great artist. Along the way, he has to navigate the stern discipline of his parents, the gritty streets of his youth and the hallowed linoleum halls of Catholic school, mined with priests and nuns. At times funny, and at other times poignant and lyrical, Grant Avenue follows Nick Castagno from the age of six through his first semester at Rutgers University. From the opening story, “Around the Dinner Table”, in which young Nick is confronted with his father’s strange notion of discipline through “My Summer of Insanity” whereupon Nick finds himself working at a state hospital, to the final story, “This Street of Woe and an Artist at Last” in which Nick finally comes to terms with his childhood, his family and the legacy of Grant Avenue, the book resonates as a honest portrayal of life during that time.

From “The Rental House”:

Lenny remembered something while thumbing the pages adorned with the boys’ fleshy fantasies. “You know how the Nazi’s used to get prisoners to talk?”

“How?”

“They put barbed wire around their dicks and made ’em look at naked girls until they got boners.”

“Where’s it say that?” asked an incredulous Nick.

“No, my brother told me.”

“I never heard of that. How does he know?” Nick didn’t wait for an answer. “I never heard of that,” he repeated.

“It wouldn’t work,” Billy abruptly cut in, “they could just close their eyes and not get a boner.”

“The Germans made ’em keep their eyes open or they’d shoot ’em,” countered Lenny.

“They could just do that!” Glenn said. “Say they were going to shoot ’em if they didn’t talk…without the barbed wire on their dicks.” None of the other boys liked the idea of barbed wire on dicks and did their best to discredit Lenny’s story.

“Well, that’s what my brother told me.”

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