The Avenue of Giants
by Marc Dugain, translated by Howard Curtis
available from Europa Editions
Inspired by the true story of California “Co-ed Killer” Edmund Kemper, The Avenue of the Giants follows Al Kenner as he progresses from antisocial adolescent to full-fledged serial killer in the turbulent ‘60s and ‘70s. A giant at over seven feet tall with an IQ higher than Einstein’s, Al has never been ordinary. Tainted by his parents’ divorce and his mother’s abusive behavior, his life takes a chilling turn on the day of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Al spends five years in a psychiatric hospital, and although he convinces the staff that he is of sound mind, he continues to harbor vicious impulses. Al leads a double life, befriending the Santa Cruz Police Chief and contemplating marrying his daughter, all the while committing a series of brutal murders. Delving into the mind of this complex killer, Marc Dugain powerfully evokes an America torn between the pacifism of the hippie movement and the violence of Vietnam.
In an impressive display of literary prowess, Marc Dugain gives readers a portrait of a time, a place, and a protagonist that fascinates as it unsettles in much the same way as Jeff Guinn’s Manson and Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.
Born in Senegal in 1957, Marc Dugain is the author of numerous successful novels. His novel The Officers’ Ward recounts his grandfather’s experiences in World War I and was made into a 2001 film of the same name.