Book Review: Avenue of the Giants, by Stewart Kirby

The term “Avenue of the Giants” refers to Highway 254 in northern California that runs through Humboldt Redwoods State Park, which is where most of this story takes place.

The protagonist, Beau Black, takes us on an out of control freight train ride down the side of a mountain, crashing to an unexpected end.

Visiting his home town, Beau, now middle aged (or so) and his buddy, visit the “rec room” of a hotel where, as younger men, they used to play pool. In comes an old girlfriend, Liliana. She’s still hot. He tells her that he’s divorce, but that might not be the truth.

She convinces him to go to a “Gothic Convention” with her. When the girl tries to get into his pants, he decides that in fact he is not divorced, but still married, and he can’t go about the business she has in mind.

She talks him into it, though, and he thinks he might break one or two of his marital vows, actual or implied. Having second thoughts, he escapes through the bathroom window of a market. From there, the crashing train that is this story careens out of control to its calamitous conclusion.

That’s all the “plot” I’m going to divulge. The novel moves at a breathtaking pace. Perhaps too breathtaking. I loved the language. It’s fresh and interesting. Colorful. Vibrant. It’s just what fiction needs.

On the other hand, I had to go back a few times to figure out how we got to where we were. That might be partially due to the fact that I read it over several days, with the reading of other books in between. But a large part of it was due to the story blasting forward with no place for the reader to stop and digest what just happened. It goes from one action scene to another.

That’s not to say it’s devoid of what Dwight Swain called “sequels,” which follow scenes, and are a place for the reader to rest, and for the protag to react to what just happened, realize that he has a dilemma, and to reach a decision as to what he should do. There are one or two. But generally, the story charges unrelentingly forth.

What we end up with is a story that to a large degree is one damned thing after another happening to the protag, culminating in the climatic scene. 

Don’t get me wrong. I liked the book. It’s certainly worth the price. I recommend it. I only suggest that the story could have been finessed more. 

All in all, though, it’s a great read and a great ride. Spend the paltry sum and buy the book.