Twenty-year-old Joan Mitchell has lived her entire life in the stately New Orleans house on Coliseum Street, where her mother and half sister have steadily undermined her self-regard. To Joan, her fate seems sealed and strangely inconsequential. Then a brief affair with Michael Kern, a man she kws to be a cad but is drawn to anyway, unfurls for her a surreal sequence of events-pregnancy, an abortion, and eventually withdrawal into a numbed existence. Only a growing obsession with Michael and a yearning to fill her caverus loneliness spur Joan to any premeditated action. An intricate psychological vel that plumbs the pain and rage born of identity and volition suppressed, The House on Coliseum Street is an arresting, somber story that transcends period and place even as it so immediately evokes New Orleans in the late 1950s.
Shirley Ann Grau is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Keepers of the House, four other novels, and three story collections. She lives in New Orleans.