The time is 1960 through 1971. While navigating the gritty streets of his working class neighborhood and the hallowed linoleum halls of Catholic school, mined with priests and nuns, Nick Castagno nurtures the dream of being a great artist. At times funny, and at other times poignant and lyrical, “Grant Avenue” follows Nick 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, struggling to distinguish the sane from the insane, to the final story, “This Street of Woe and an Artist at Last” in which Nick finally comes to grips with his childhood, his family and the legacy of Grant Avenue, the book resonates as a vivid portrayal of childhood and family.
Nick Castagno struggles to reconcile his love for Minna with his desire to be an artist in late twentieth century America. Nick falls hard , and Minna quickly becomes his lover, muse and model. We follow the two from Rutgers University to Philadelphia, New York, London, Paris and back again to Philadelphia as they search for their place in this world.