Young Adam

What is it about sociopaths that make me want to read their confessions?  My excuse will be that they also make good book discussion titles.

My latest accomplishment is Young Adam by Alexander Trocchi.  This novel, first published in Paris in 1954 under the pseudonym of Frances Lengel, was the first book written by a man who would eventually be a cult figure in the drug counterculture of the 1950s and 1960s.  His most famous work is called Cain’s Book

This work is the confession of a man hiding behind the name of Joe Taylor.  He is floating on a barge on Scotland’s Clyde River, working for Leslie Gault and his wife, Ella.  One day, Joe and Leslie fish the nude body of a woman out of the river. 

Slowly, very slowly, Joe’s real story begins to unravel for the reader.  He is going to make confessions of a number sins and the readers job is to listen for the truth amongst all the verbiage. 

Readers need to be aware that Joe is not a nice man.  The treatment of women in this novel is challenging but also provides a good level of controversy for any group to discuss.  There is a sensuality to the story as well which is odd because the sex is so brutal and lifeless. 

Book discussion leaders will have no problem finding issues to discuss with this novel.  It reminds me very much of the works A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess or The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks.  Perhaps it will take the right group, but I would suggest this book be reviewed as something different to read and discuss.  In addition, your group may want to know the novel was filmed in 2003 starring Ewan Mcgregor.



About the Author:

Gary Niebuhr is the author of Make Mine a Mystery (2003), Caught up in Crime (2009), and other readers' guides to mystery and detective fiction. He was a Booklist contributor from 2008-2014.

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