Friday, 26 December 2008

Cosmonaut of Inner Space


Alex Trocchi

A wonderful post from 'DevotionalHooligan' here (with lots more links).

STRANGE THINGS HAPPEN

In the late 70's/early 80's I was a fairly frequent visitor to Bernard Stone's 'Turret Bookshop' in Covent Garden and one day Jeff Nuttall was there and I started talking to him about his book 'Bomb Culture'. In the course of the conversation I mentioned Alex Trocchi and was told that he was still alive (I must admit I would have thought that he died ages before) and living in Kensington and could be found sometimes in a pub whose name I have now forgotten.
Now I had first read 'Cain's Book' while still in Glasgow and even went up to the Mitchell Library to see what I could find out about him and there was nothing there. Very strange as Trocchi was responsible through his magazine 'Merlin' (published in Paris between 1952 - 55) of publishing Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet and Eugene Ionesco amongst others in English for the first time.
At this time 'Cains Book' could be picked up pretty easily as could 'Young Adam' and you could visit his publisher John Calder's offices and pick up some of his other books. But as far as getting his Olympia Press 'pornography' well...I do remember Pat Kearney trying to sell me a copy of one of them for a very expensive price (though nothing like the price he sold his collection to Princeton University for here).
Anyway I remember heading up to Kensington one day and in the pub in question I met (The Rt. Hon.) George Rodney, definitely a 'shady' character but he pointed out that I was sitting under a cartoon of Trocchi on the pub's wall and that Trocchi himself would be in soon.
Anyway I had an idea to do an interview with him (I had vague plans of putting a magazine together) and to this end I had already spoken with Kathy Acker about Trocchi's influence on her work, but like many things at this time in my life it got put on the back burner.
Truth be told my life was just spinning out of control and I decided to piss off somewhere (anywhere!)
My last night (29th April 1984) in London and my good friend Mike came and told me that Trocchi had died a couple of weeks previously.
I ended up in Amsterdam knowing one person there and was immediately given a barge to live on (Trocchi readers will recognise the symbolism) and within a couple of weeks I had met Olaf Stoop and he gave me copies of everything that Trocchi had written including a 1954 Olympia Press 'Young Adam'. (I say 'gave' but he actually charged me 100 guilders which is practically the same thing.)
Within those first days in Amsterdam I also met Hansmartin Tromp who had just conducted an interview with Trocchi and he gave me a transcript as well as some 10X8 photos of him.
Other things in my collection are a signed copy of 'Helen & Desire' (inscribed for Richard Neville) and some of the original 'sigma' mimeographs.
Considering how few people knew of him way back then it is heartening to have seen the resurgence of interest in him particularly in the last few years.
(As an aside when I was working at a record shop in Kentish Town ('Honky Tonk') in about 1981 I put up in the window a photostat of an article on Trocchi from a very early edition of 'Time Out' and it was amazing how many people said that they didn't know the writer but that they were interested in him.)
Finally there is a really good BBC Scotland documentary on Alex Trocchi called 'A Life In Pieces' made by Tim Niel and Allan Campbell who were also responsible for the book of the same name. (Mention must also go to 'The Edinburgh Review' (who published a special Trocchi edition) and Andrew Murray Scott (who had worked for Trocchi towards the end of his life) who published a biography and a Trocchi 'reader' and this perhaps started the ball rolling which allowed the bankrolling of the film of 'Young Adam' which starred Tilda Swinton and Ewan McGregor.)

5 comments:

  1. hiya mona...
    really nice post,it'd be great if you could upload the photo's/interviews when you have time... hardly any trocchi info online & it's good to keep spreading the word...
    cheers for mentioning my blog too.
    peace. x

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  2. Thanx for the kind words re Trocchi and the blog... a great idea and will upload that stuff, there is just the problem that ALL my stuff is in storage at the moment but as soon as everything is back in running order...it's a promise! Hope you will call back again sometime!
    regards/

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  3. Junkie,
    visionary,
    pimp,
    beat,
    literary outlaw,
    pornographer,
    philosopher,
    pig farmer,
    underground organiser
    and antique book dealer

    he kills me... awesome. thanks for shedding light here.

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  4. Okay. I now have to read Trocchi. I've come across the name many times over the years but never seen a single book by him. You've hooked me!

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  5. And since posting this my first edition of 'Young Adam' got stolen from me by a so called friend *sigh

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