erasing clouds

Cosmonaut, rebel and man: Sally Child remembers writer Alexander Trocchi

by anna battista

Rewind. Stop. Play.

Edinburgh, McEwan Hall, University of Ebinburgh, 21st August 1962. Editor John Calder invites writer Alexander Trocchi to the Scottish Writers Day during the International Writers' Conference organised for the Edinburgh Festival. By now Trocchi is already well known in the rest of the world: he has left Glasgow to go to Paris, lived in the United States, got in touch with the avant garde movements and with other young and new authors from Samuel Beckett to Eugene Ionesco, from Terry Southern to William Burroughs, who is also present at the Scottish conference.

Among the themes debated during the conference there is also nationalism: during a conference with local poet Hugh MacDiarmid, Trocchi accuses Scottish literature of being provincial, defining Mac Diarmid "an old fossil" and adding that he himself has produced the best literature in the last twenty years in Scotland, hence he is the only new voice in the country. Trocchi's internationalist point of view, which made him proclaim "The whole atmosphere seems to me turgid, petty provincial," is opposed by MacDiarmid who, answering Alexander, claims that Trocchi's works, that he hasn't read, having as main themes sex and drugs, can't be called literature, but only "Cosmopolitan scum".

After the conference, Trocchi goes back to London. His internationalist theories are in later years taken forward in his Project Sigma, a cultural revolution finalised to unite the enlightened minds of artists coming from all over the world. Meanwhile, Scotland keeps on ignoring Alexander Trocchi and refusing to include his works in what is considered the canon of Scottish literature.


Maurice Girodias, maverick editor of the Parisian publishing house Olympia Press, in the anthology The Olympia Reader, remembers Trocchi as a man who loved to live in an extravagant way and had great dreams. Sometimes, he launched in great projects, a few of which ended up in being achieved: Alexander seemed to have too many interests to take care of and to be surrounded by too many women. Perhaps these are the reasons why the novel that Trocchi has in mind since 1947, Young Adam, will have to wait a few years before being completed.

Alexander Whitelaw Robertson Trocchi's polymorphous life starts in Glasgow, where he was born in 1925 and where he attended the local university receiving a scholarship in 1950, which allowed him to set on a European tour that eventually brought him to France. Here he starts Merlin magazine, which published all sorts of people from Samuel Beckett, whom he discovered including his Watt in 1953 into the Collection Merlin, imprint of the Olympia Press, to Jean Paul Sartre, from Albert Camus to Pablo Neruda. Merlin, politically motivated magazine, financed by Alice Jane Lougee, was interested in creative writing and Trocchi sees it as a means of combating the rigidity of opinion, hoping that the writing would influence others to analyse their own attitudes and become more critical. During these years in France Trocchi works at his novel Young Adam.

At the end of the '40, Trocchi had already written down on a notebook a few ideas for the characters of a story: the main character was a reporter, Jo Henfield, investigating a murder. From then on, Trocchi had kept on writing and rewriting Young Adam throughout the years and, in a letter sent from Paris to Rome to the English poet Christopher Logue, Trocchi announces to his friend that he has finished Young Adam and has sent it to London. In a 1954 diary, kept while he is in France, Alexander writes: "I sat down to rewrite YA, did five pages of the revision; what Gid (Girodias) nor anyone else will understand is that YA is merely a 'neutraler', neither good nor bad."

Maurice "Gid" Girodias accepts to publish Young Adam for his Olympia Press, but given the nature of the publishing house, which mainly releases erotic novels, asks Trocchi to spice up the text with pornographic details. The novel is published in 1954 under the pseudonym Frances Lengel. The year after, Trocchi decides to leave Paris and to go to London, he seems to have lost his faith in his manuscript: "Young Adam, written in 1952, had been rejected by virtually every publisher in England", Trocchi writes when leaving Paris, "and the manuscript was growing daily yellower in the drawer of a publisher in New York. I had written what I knew to be the first of a new genre of book in the English language … would I have to follow my friend, Beckett's example, and take to writing in French?"

While in London, Trocchi starts to write the screenplay for Young Adam, a project that is interrupted when he leaves to go to the States. Here Trocchi, the "internationalist and the traveller", gets in touch with the Beats and with heroin as well, becoming a drug addict and being obliged to fly away from the country to avoid being arrested. Only when Trocchi comes back to Great Britain at the beginning of the '60s does he start making agreements with the producer Don Getz to do a movie taken from his novel. Trocchi thinks he might even be able to earn from the movie at least ten thousand dollars and, at the beginning, also a production of the film for the American TV is planned. Getz thinks he will go to Glasgow in December 1961 to choose the location for the film, but, suddenly, he interrupts his relation with Trocchi and nothing else will be heard again about the project. Drafts for the screenplay will later be kept in the United States, in the library of Washington University in St. Louis.

In 1959 New York-based Castle Books publishes Young Adam with the title Seeds of Desire, without being authorised by Trocchi, and two years after they reprint the novel under regular contract with the title The Outsider (1961), in an edition which includes also four short stories, "A Being of Distances", "The Holy Man", "Peter Pierce" and "A Meeting", previously written by Trocchi. In the same year Cain's Book, a controversial diary of his drug addiction, is published by New York-based Grove Press. Great Britain will have to wait until 1961 to see the first edition of Young Adam, published by Heinemann. The British edition of the book is welcomed by positive reviews and the first comparisons with Albert Camus' L'Etranger follow. The literary critics underline that the main character of Young Adam is an "outsider" in his own country like the main character in Camus' novel. Joe is indeed "alone then, an alien, an exile," as Trocchi describes him in the novel. The structure of Young Adam, being completely different from the structure of any other novel, also gains Trocchi the fame of "outsider" of Scottish literature.

Young Adam is actually an anti-novel, a story without beginning and end. Told in first person by Joe, divided in three parts, the novel starts when the corpse of a woman is found floating in a canal by two men, Joe and Leslie, working on a barge travelling along the canal that links Glasgow to Edinburgh. In the first part the barge is travelling from Glasgow to Edinburgh, Joe is living with Leslie and his wife Ella on the barge and the action focuses on the discovery of the body. In the second part, Joe takes Leslie's place as Ella's partner and starts telling the reader what he knows about the death of the woman found in the canal, Cathie. In the last part, Joe leaves his job on the barge and goes back to live in Glasgow where he becomes part of the audience in the trial of an innocent, Daniel Goon, accused of having killed Cathie.

Young Adam's Glasgow is different from the Glasgow in Trocchi's Cain's Book, filtered through the father's memories, and from the town described in Thongs (Olympia Press: Paris, 1955), which, for themes such as sodomy and violence, could bring to mind a classic of erotic literature such as Histoire d'O (History of O, Olympia Press: Paris, 1954) by Pauline Réage. The town described in Young Adam is mainly a liquid town, narrated through the canals, the River Clyde, the rain and the sperm. The water is the only witness of Cathie's death, it is the locus where the memory unwinds and the time dissolves. To use Joe's words, the canal, the time and the barge are unimportant details, they are almost "psychogeographical" elements. According to Scottish writer Edwin Morgan, the barge in Young Adam, like the motorcycle in The Girl on the Motorcycle by André Pieyre de Mandiargues (which Trocchi translated), and the barge in Cain's Book, are literary expedients which have one thing in common: they have all one and only function, that of moving the characters in the space or of moving them through the past memories, the present impressions and the future intuitions. Morgan also claims that Young Adam can be compared to a movie rather than to a novel. With Morgan we might add that Young Adam is a proper movie, its author lingers on the descriptions of a few details in the same way as a camera would focus on particular scenes: the descriptions of the traces of egg on Ella's forks or the shadow of lipstick on the brink of a cup, could well be the camera instruction in a screenplay, while the lights that go off in the funfair of the novel bear to mind the lights of one of Fellini's ubiquitous funfair or circuses being switched off, leaving the characters in complete darkness. Another cinematographic element in Young Adam is the fact that, while describing his characters, Trocchi always focuses on the senses, on the sight and on the touch: the "custard scene", the scene of Joe's violence on Cathie is indeed told through the colours and the density of the custard, ink, vanilla or ketchup, with which Joe covers Cathie. Young Adam is an anti-novel. Young Adam is a film. Young Adam is a universe made of narrow streets and canals, of sperm and death, of solitude and exile. Young Adam is Alexander Trocchi.

Fast Forward. Stop. Play.

Glasgow, 2003. The "quick black water", as Trocchi describes it in Young Adam, of the Forth and Clyde canal flows constantly changable, from Bowling on the River Clyde to Grangemouth on the River Forth. In Falkirk the Forth and Clyde meets the Union Canal with which it joins and enters Edinburgh. The blooming and wild vegetation surrounding this part of the canal doesn't seem to lose its green nuances even in winter. The houses scattered along the banks are made with red bricks, they would look abandoned if it weren't for the laundry blowing in the wind in their gardens. The canal, reopened after almost forty years in 2001, thanks to the millennium project funds, now is a tourist attraction. No barges loaded with coal destined to Edinburgh float here anymore, and yet, it is easy to imagine Leslie's barge pop up at any time from one of the sinuous bends the canal traces to find, trapped among branches and algae, the body of a woman. There are no barges now on the canal, only white swans float along the waters and broken branches and rotten algae trap in the slimy waters a lonely ball, empty beer cans or plastic bottles of Irn Bru, Scotland's favoured carbonated drink. A bagpipe can be heard in the distance, but it's only the radio of a truck in a nearby gasoline station. The characters that populate Young Adam's world aren't here. Ella, Leslie and Joe aren't here, in the same way as there isn't the tramp that strucks Joe's attention, a character introduced in the novel by Trocchi as a tribute to Beckett's Molloy. But, terrible coincidence, graffiti on the wall of a house near the canal scream 'Molloy' and from the canal itself the passer-by will be able to see what Joe could see from the barge, the church towers, their conical shapes hanging in the air like witches' hats.

In the same way as the canal is not peopled anymore by the characters in Young Adam, but the spirit of the novel seems to pervade again these places, Trocchi is not here anymore. Trocchi died in 1984, but he hasn't got a tomb, his ashes disappeared in mysterious circumstances, and he can't even be found in local rare books or antiquarian shops, since the first editions of his novels went sold out a long time ago. And yet, it is not impossible to retrace the identity of the writer in today's Glasgow. The first tangible elements of his existence are birth certificates or forms that prove Trocchi enrolled at Glasgow University in the '40s. There are also two poems, "Red Rocks" and "Earth-Shaker" by Alexander, published in the magazine The College Courant in 1950, the latter kept in Glasgow University archive. In the same archive there's also a letter dated 27th July 1961, signed by the secretary of the university, stating that two officers from the Drugs Division of Glasgow Police, called at the Registrar's office asking for information about Alexander Trocchi, claiming he was in the Isle of Man and was in difficulties with the police there. The puzzle of Trocchi's life starts to become complicated.

"Once Alex thought he was a cross between Julius Caesar and Jesus Christ," Sally Child, Trocchi's last partner tells me, showing me a photograph of Alexander Trocchi, continuing, "He'd said that, but he'd said it knowing that it was not a thing to say. Alex was a sort of performer, he had this sort of theatrical side to him, but he did have grand ways of speaking at times. After saying such a thing, he would suddenly turn his head and just laugh. For me," Sally stops for a few seconds and looks at the photograph, "he had the sort of humanity that I think is a sign of real great intelligence and kindness on a real personal level." Sally's black and white photograph portrays Alexander, happily smiling, looking like an ordinary man and not like the monster his fame of drug addict had created. It's an unusual picture of the writer Allen Ginsberg called "the most brilliant man" he had ever met, the Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing dubbed "a romantic utopian", the young Leonard Cohen christened "the contemporary Christ" and William Burroughs, in the introduction to Trocchi's anthology of poems Man at Leisure, nicknamed with the words Alexander loved to define himself with, "Cosmonaut of Inner Space".

"In Young Adam there's a sense of Alex going down the road, stop and then start walking again, perhaps in a different direction," Sally explains, "He did that in person, which is why he was so funny sometimes 'cos just when you thought he was driving you mad because he was saying 'I'm a cross between Julius Caesar and Jesus Christ,' or something like that and you'd be going 'Oh my God!' then he would stop, laugh and take off on another track. He was very funny, very lively, very quick and had a generosity of spirit. I met him when I was applying for a job as an au pair. I had never heard about him when we met, I didn't know who he was, I hadn't even read his books. I was just told that he was a friend of Robert Creeley, that they'd been in Paris together, that he was a writer and was in a very sad situation because his wife had died and his son Mark was dying in hospital. We met in a pub in Kensington for the job interview and we agreed I gave it a try. Even though he was obviously extremely distracted by the situation he was in, he was very kind and asked me if I had enough money to get home. He was always very aware of how people might have difficulties and always made sure that people were OK. I just thought he was a very kind and sadly distracted sort of person and I agreed to go and stay with him. Within that week his son died and I ended up in staying with him and his son Nick. I arrived in tragedy basically, but then after a few months I fell in love with him," Sally pauses, she sounds suddenly happier, "I absolutely fell in love with him. He was very surprised, it was totally my doing, he didn't do much, it was just staying near him. He was just a great lovely person, a lot less selfish than most people and very funny as well as I said. This is another thing that people forget, that he was very funny. He had a second-hand bookstall, he loved books but he hated to sell them. That's the irony of the whole thing! He went to auctions and got terribly excited about the things he discovered. We also used to go to Scotland on book buying trips: he basically hated selling books because he loved them, so he wasn't a very successful book dealer. And there's also another thing that people don't often know, he was also very interested in stamps, he was quite an expert in stamp printing."

Sally's tales of Alex's life seem to be extremely different from the ones readers might imagine by reading Trocchi's works or his biography. "I don't think his kindness comes through his writing," Sally claims, "I wouldn't say that if you were close enough to him you would see that his kindness comes through his writings. What Alex wanted in his life was for people to be creative and to use their creativity. He also wanted me to be creative. You see, I had gone to college and done a course in fashion, then, when I finished, it was quite hard to make any money out of what I had learnt, so I got an ordinary job, but Alex was furious, he didn't want me to do something that wasn't creative. He really wanted people to be creative, he thought that was the real important thing in life. He thought it was important for people to be able to express themselves. There were a lot of occasions in which Alex would bring people forward and give them a lot of confidence. But he was a recluse when I met him, his elder son was dying…" Sally stops and seems to be moved by her memories, then she underlines again, "there were so many examples while I was living with Alex of him encouraging people to be creative."

When Sally talks about Alexander encouraging people to be creative the Sigma Project comes to mind: Alexander planned with his "Sigma conspiracy", to fund an organisation of enlightened people who had to "alert, sustain, inform", and look for "underground ways of getting to the people and making them think". "Yes, think about the Sigma Project, he really was excited at the idea people would have been creative," Sally enthuses, "You wouldn't get as much encouragement normally. That creativity was part of him. When you live with someone everyday, you see them dealing with people, often desperate people, and Alex was always very kind and encouraging. He was a man who had suffered a lot and I suppose his ability to empathise, to see things from other people's points of view, enabled him to be kind. He was a generous, kind and gentle man. He could see things other people couldn't see."

Alex's friend Christopher Logue once wrote an article about Alexander in which he remembered how, after an unhappy love story, Alex rescued him from committing suicide. "That was typical of Alex!" Sally exclaims, "Alex would have put all at risk to save his friends. What happened with Logue was so Alex! I could remember Alex looking out of a window at the time we lived in a maisonette flat in Kensington. He saw a guy being run down by a car and rushed downstairs to check that the guy was all right. Alex would not walk away from a situation in which someone was in trouble as far as I could see. He would always go and help somebody who was in need. Alex was an international man, but he also loved his family, he was very much a family person. This is a sort of Catch-22 situation: his identity denied the small narrow mindedness of being confined to one small place. I'm from New Zealand and I came from New Zealand to London because my country was too small and I felt better in a wider environment. Alex was Scots-Italian, he had a mixture of nationalities. I can't remember him saying anything derogatory about Scotland at all. He went back at one point to Scotland and went to visit his old school and friends and he really loved the experience. I'm still in touch with members of his family and with friends of his son Nick. After Alex's death, when his son Nick committed suicide, we were all so shattered about it and for a long time we didn't really know what to do with each other, it was tragic. Alex's life was tragic, very tragic. It's just appalling when you think how his family died for various reasons. It's terrifying to know what happened to his family. I'm sure there are still people who knew him living now in Glasgow, but I think people are at some level superstitious and sense that maybe he was bad luck. You see, Alex's ashes disappeared. Things disappeared from our flat after he died, lots of things. I have no idea how or why or what happened to them. But the strangest thing happened with the ashes, undoubtedly. We had a lot of ashes: we had the ashes of Alex's wife, Lyn, the ashes of his son Mark, the ashes of cats and the ashes of Alex and then one day I realised they weren't there. There was also a fire in the flat and lots of manuscripts went lost."

Many were the critics, authors and friends who wrote about Alexander Trocchi, among them also his British publisher, John Calder, who remembered him as a writer whose talent had been destroyed by drug addition. In an article published on 18th May 1984 on The Times Higher Education Supplement, Calder writes: "It is not as a cosmonaut of inner space that Trocchi has a chance of being remembered, but as a descriptive writer, able to create an ambiance, possessing a rare sense of style. He might have become the outstanding British writer of his generation but was destroyed by his addiction. He proves to my satisfaction at least, that there is no greater danger to real creativity than drug dependency which excites the mind but removes the will and ability to work."

"I used to get upset about quite a few things about Alex and I still use to get upset about the whole notion that heroin makes you look evil instead than the circumstances people may take it under," Sally points out, as if she were now answering to what Calder wrote a long time ago, "Alex operated as a rare book dealer for years and most people had no idea that he took a lot of heroin, enough to kill an elephant, because of his habit at that stage. He also had special methadone made by a chemist, to get him through the night or to take with him if he were away for a while and hadn't access to a fix, since it would have been hard to have withdrawal symptoms. Alex always stated that coming off heroin wasn't physically terrible, it was more a psychological problem. His addiction wasn't the problem, it was something else. I've always been annoyed that the drug has been demonised to the extent that it was taken out of context. I think that the idea that annoyed me most is the idea that Alex was in any way an evil person, because he wasn't, he was a good person, absolutely a good person. I lived with Alex when he was a registered addict and he smoked drugs. When he couldn't smoke because he had lung cancer, he made hash cookies, he had started learning how to cook and got really excited adding raisins and nuts to the main recipe. But he certainly never encouraged me to take heroin, I never did and he was quite clever suggesting me that it wasn't a very good idea, but without saying 'No you can't' which is very interesting. He never denied anybody the right to make their choice in that sense."

In the same way as Trocchi never denied people to make their own choices, he also never denied "corrupting" people with his writing. Cain's Book was published in Great Britain in 1961 and a year after condemned for obscenity by the Sheffield Court, which also ordered to burn all the copies of the book. During the Cain's Book trial, Trocchi claimed that there was no point in writing if he couldn't corrupt people, "Why should he have said 'What I do is meaningless'?" Sally wonders, remembering, "Alex was a performer, he understood the power of words. He was about free choice, he was about people finding out for themselves what works and doesn't work for them. He was for individual freedom. Some of his statements are real soundbites. Every time I now read anything by Alex, I read it from a different perspective, because I now have more experience. I think a lot of people prefer Young Adam, but I have a real soft spot for Cain's Book, because I think I didn't know anything about heroin addicts before I met Alex, and I probably still don't know much about them because I lived with Alex when he was a specific registered addict. But I thought that was a sort of brilliant, hard, sad, but real and true book and it's also a quite funny. It's not just about heroin addiction, it's about a lot more than that. I think that once again drug taking presides over what it is like to be human."

"I also love Helen and Desire. When Calder wanted to reprint Helen and Desire I lent him my copy, which was a copy that Alex had given me as a birthday present and had it bound in red leather and gold with an inscription written on it. I never got it back and Calder said that it had been stolen from his office and he never made any compensation whatsoever. Can you believe it? And he thinks he knows who stole it, it was somebody who was working for him! Isn't that awful?" Published with the pseudonym of Jean Blanche, Trocchi's Helen and Desire (1954), a sort of modern version of John Cleland's Fanny Hill, is one of the many erotic novels Alex published under pseudonym for Maurice Girodias' Olympia Press. For Olympia Press Alexander did translations of Apollinaire and Genette's texts and wrote quite a few novels, among them there's also Thongs, penned with the name Carmencita de Las Lunas. "When Alex and I were lovers he gave me Thongs to read," Sally remembers, "I was reading it and thinking about the man I loved who had written this book and I said 'God Alex, where did this stuff come from?' since it was a bit too much for me at that point. And he said 'oh, just off the top of my head.' So I thought 'if that's at the top, what's underneath?!'" Sally wonders, then she continues, "I love Alex's writing. To me it's extraordinary, it's crystal clear, it's pure. My favourite thing is a poem he wrote for me. He read it when we went to Belgium, he was invited at a radio programme and he read it during the programme. I was naïve thinking that because I lived with a writer then I could star in a story. I used to persuade him to write my life story, but it wasn't interesting enough!"

Trocchi's novels Young Adam and Helen and Desire were reprinted in Scotland by Rebel Inc. in the '90s, while Young Adam has been recently retranslated and reprinted in Italy by Edizioni Socrates: the book had only been published once in Italy, in the '60s, by Sugar Editore. "I have a soft spot for anybody who is a Trocchi fan," Sally admits, "I have a great deal of time for anybody who struggled to get Alex into print before he was the best thing to publish, and I have to include Andrew Murray Scott, who wrote the biography Alexander Trocchi: the Making of the Monster, among them. I have a lot of time for people who were interested in Alex when there wasn't any interest in his novels. I always tried to help these people or help Alex's works to be published."

Apart from helping Alexander's books to be released again, Sally is also witnessing his dream of seeing a movie taken from Young Adam come true, thanks to Scottish director David Mackenzie. "I think Alex would be very happy about it. It's very hard to say when I haven't seen the movie but I know it's very sexy and I feel a great deal of responsibility since I've been partly responsible for putting the film on the way. I know that Alex would have loved to be part of the process. Somebody told me, I think it was Christopher Logue, that Alex would have made a great director. It is often underestimated that Alex could have been brilliant in doing something creative with people, such as putting together theatrical works. Alex was at his best when he was encouraging or inspiring other people."

Sally also runs the Trocchi Estate: "When Alex was dying of lung cancer, he was in hospital about to be operated and I was very scared and frightened about the whole thing and so was he. He wrote on a matchbox lid 'If I should to die, it was not my intention' and gave it to me. Alex wanted to live forever. We were a bit worried about the situation, so he wrote a will, that's basically how I came to the Trocchi Estate. It hasn't been actually clear how the whole thing works, because Alex's other son committed suicide eighteen months after Alex died. It is also very difficult to run such an organisation because some of Alex's works went lost when there was a fire in our flat. Actually, some of his stuff was already in the States long before I came on the scene as Alex had sold a lot of stuff to the States. He also often used to rewrite in longhand some of his works and resell them so that you still got an original Trocchi, though it simply wasn't the original one! At present I have a whole cupboard stuffed full of papers one on top of each other and they should go to a university room."

Like Calder, many people thought Trocchi never wrote a final masterpiece because he was destroyed by drugs. Sally's point of view regarding this issue is different, "Alex was worn down by not having money and struggling to look after his sons," Sally remembers, "I think had he been given two things probably, more recognition than he had already achieved and encouragement to carry on and more security, he would have written another book. What was the point of starting anything if you had to worry about paying the bills or being evicted? He had written amazing works and he had had no credit for this, so why should he write? He really wanted to write."

"I think Alex was like Orson Welles, too gifted for his time. I hated people saying 'he should have written more, he was a waste of time'. What did these people do when he was around to encourage him to write or to give him the space and money to write? Towards the end of his life he was very angry about not being given the recognition he deserved. He was very angry for example that he didn't get the money that was due to him from his American publisher. Why should you write or why should the world have your stuff if people didn't bother paying you? There are all the sorts of people in America that never paid Alex or the estate any money because people thought 'don't bother paying him, he's gonna be dead, he's a junky'. It is of course sad that a man of his talent didn't write another masterpiece, but I'm not surprised that he didn't. If he had written another book it would have been about Roman history because he was interested in that period."

Sally goes quiet for a while, then she starts again, "I wish he'd had better luck. My personal regret is that I wasn't up to the job of looking after him properly, but then I was far too young and far too inexperienced in a lot of ways and I think, had I been able to be the sort of person who could have secured him something, I could have got him better contracts and maybe could have protected him. I remember that very early on we went to a literary event with Roger McGough. I was so excited, I said to Alex 'Oh, Roger McGough is here!' because I read him when I was thirteen, and I went like 'can we meet him?' and Alex said 'Oh God!' I was pathetic. I remember people coming around to see him and being so reverential and so respectful and I was thinking 'but this is Alex, what do you mean?' He thought this was really funny. As I said, when I met Alex he was quite reclusive, but there were quite a lot of stories about Alex in Paris and he was still charismatic and charming, I could still see vestiges of what he must have been. When he was in hospital all the nurses fell in love with him. He charmed my entire family, my mother and all my brothers and sisters, they all adored him. That is not the picture of this terrible, evil drug addict and blah, blah blah. Everyone will have their own version of Alex, that's something that I came to understand. This is my version, this is the man I knew, it's not definitive, it's just one of them and it's one that is based on very real experience, living, sleeping, eating with him. You never really capture a person, that's far too complicated in lots of ways, but you get little glimpses of how a person is made and I suppose when everybody said 'oh, he was a really horrible person' they might have had their reasons to say so, but everybody I know who came in contact with him fell for him. I fell for him," Sally concludes smiling.

While I'm saying goodbye to Sally, I think that Alexander Trocchi's desire of living forever has become true. That's right, he might not be physically in Glasgow, London, Paris, in the United States or in the red light districts "engraving koans on lavatory walls", where, he proclaims in the poem "A Little Geography Lesson For My Sons And Daughters", people will be able to find him one day. But Trocchi lives on in Sally Child's memories, in the spirit of David MacKenzie's production house Sigma Films, named after Trocchi's revolutionary project, in the style and inspirations of modern Scottish writers such as James Kelman and Alasdair Gray and in the will of those editors who are republishing him. Alexander Trocchi is above all in the ideals of those who think the world needs not a coup-d'état, but a coup-du-monde, as he claimed, that will revolutionise the way of thinking, living and creating.

For Alexander Trocchi's books Young Adam and Helen and Desire visit Canongate's site:
Also available from Canongate: A Life in Pieces: Reflections on Alexander Trocchi, edited by Allan Campbell and Tim Niel (Rebel Inc., 1997).
For Andrew Murray Scott's books, Invisible Insurrection of a Million Minds (Polygon, 1997) and Alexander Trocchi: the Making of the Monster (Polygon, 1992) visit the author's site:
For the Italian edition of Young Adam visit Edizioni Socrates' site:

{Editor's note: See last issue for Anna's interview with David Mackenzie, director of the film version of Young Adam}

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