Julian Fleming in The Sunday Business Post,
From the Author
The Avenue representsmy response to the myth of suburbia as a panacea for the ills of society. Thestory hangs essentially as a picture of suburban degeneration. My family like alot of others moved from inner city to the suburbs for the 'open space andfresh air'(I had asthma as a child). However, in moving we unwittingly leftbehind a world with a strong community spirit for an anonymous sprawl wheresocial interaction was at a minimum. The open spaces soon filled in as houses andthe population increased, cars multiplied and the former inner-city congestion,from which people had previously fled, was now itself an intrinsic element of asuburban/city commuting lifestyle. But little heed was paid to the socialchanges that followed: the permanent traffic jams, the noise, the former citycommunities ripped apart to make highways to facilitate the suburban commuters,the two parent incomes, the latch-key children, the new landscape of industrialdebris, used condoms, cider bottles, lager cans and of course the lethal drugculture. All the time the scream was bursting through the spreading graffiti onsuburban walls. But the powers that be refused to hear.
The novel is notall gloom however. Although it may be read as I have said as a picture ofsuburban degeneration, it is paralleled, despite the calamities, by a story ofhuman regeneration, particularly in the characters of Francis and Michael andeven -almost contradictorily - Francis' father. My intention was to use theavenue as a trawling device to pierce the anonymity of a waste land. I perceivethe avenue almost as one would a country village, small inward-looking with itshidden past and secrets, a crucible if you like in which the characters liveentrapped lives and as a consequence (consciously or otherwise) are almostincestuously interlinked. Or to put it in the words of Francis' old cottageneighbour, Mrs Dempsey: 'The avenue cared for her own.'