Young Adam was the debut novel of Scottish beat
writer Alexander Trocchi
and was originally published in 1954. It tells the story of Joe, a young man working on the canals between Glasgow
who discovers a body of a young woman floating in the canal. The novel focuses on the relationship between Joe and his companions on the barge - a husband and wife - and it becomes clearer as the novel progresses that Joe is connected to the corpse. However the most common description of this book is 'the Scottish L'etranger
' and it is indeed an existential
The writing is excellent and makes a first rate thriller. There is a bleak moral tone throughout but the characters constantly engage your attention. Trocchi's obsession with eroticism is apparent in some very cold taut scenes between Joe and his bosses wife. In the pre Lady Chatterley's Lover trial Britain it is no surprise that Trocchi himself was vilified by the establishment, but was a respected figure in post-war Paris. There have been various editions of Young Adam over the years, but the version Trocchi himself preferred was republished by Edinburgh publishers Rebel Inc. in the late nineties. I think the book is currently out of print in North America, although this may change shortly as Young Adam is being made into a film starring Ewan McGregor.
Update: The movie Young Adam was released in 2003. More to follow as and when I see it.