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Irish Times: "An unusual take on a genre tradition."

Date: Jun 21 2014

Marc Dugain’s The Avenue of the Giants (Europa Editions, €15.75) offers another unusual take on a genre tradition, that of the sociopathic serial killer. Set in California in the late 1960s, and based on the life of Ed Kemper, aka the Co-Ed Killer (whom Dugain acknowledges in his author’s note), the story switches between third- and first-person voices, as convicted killer Al Kenner writes an autobiographical account of a trail of destruction that began when, as a disaffected teenager, he murdered his grandparents.


It’s an unusual account, not least because Kenner claims that his literary influences include Dostoevsky and Raymond Carver, with the result that the story unfolds in a style of downbeat realism that grows increasingly unsettling and claustrophobic the more Kenner reveals of his prosaically literal mindset. There are echoes of Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me in Kenner’s ability to fool those closest to him with his gee-shucks public persona, which allows the charming but manipulative killer to exploit the virtues of peace and love espoused by his hippy victims.

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