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Alexander Trocchi took life and himself seriously enough to wreck both, with literature understood as secondary, an accomplice to that wrecking. There is no story to tell, no message of hope or improvement. The pages drift past, monotonous and stark and radiant, a stalled narrative that bobs on the ripples while the narrator gazes indifferently at the Manhattan skyline.

Heroin has made him sovereign, impregnable. Incidents and memories sometimes disturb the impassive surface: a bleak night in London; scenes from childhood; years in Parisian bohemia; the seduction of a one-legged woman. All of them pass; the void reasserts itself. This kind of book, with its air of existentialist machismo and self-regard, is wide open to ridicule, and electrifying on the same account.

Trocchi took life and himself seriously enough to wreck both, with literature understood as secondary, an accomplice to that wrecking. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber. Please subscribe to sign in to comment. Rob Doyle. No message of hope There is no story to tell, no message of hope or improvement. More from The Irish Times Books. TV, Radio, Web. Sponsored Discover grants and supports to help your business navigate the coronavirus crisis.

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Cains Book by Alexander Trocchi

It is now just after five in the afternoon. Today at this time it is still afternoon, and the sun, striking the cinderblocks of the main building of the works has turned them pink. The motor cranes and the decks of the other scows tied up round about are deserted. So begins Cain's Book, Alexander Trocchi 's incredible novel of existential dread. Young Adam, its predecessor, is better known, but the latter is the "Scottish Beat's" classic.


Cain's Book

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Cain’s Book: A commentary on the silence that followed

Cain's Book is a novel by Scottish beat writer Alexander Trocchi. It is also an account of what it means to be a junky and an outsider from society. On occasion it can descend into ranting about the hypocrisy and stupidity of drug prohibition and the general inequities of the world. It describes with an eye for detail the rituals of heroin, the cooking up and the search for a suitable vein. It gets more and more fragmented as it draws to a close with Trocchi realizing that he is incapable of a maintaining a conventional narrative. In being consumed with his addiction, Trocchi strives to document his alienation and his desire to use his creativity against the existentialist fear of being washed away by history with no sign of his life remaining.

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