Long, long before Irvine Welsh, Scots writer Alexander Trocchi wrote the British answer to William S. Burrough's celebrated 'Junky'. 'Cain's Book' is THE definitive masterwork of UK Beat-outsider literature, a book that belongs in the library of every lover of modern literature. Shamefully neglected these days, this is a pellucid and honest work of art that unflinchingly depicts the world of addiction (based on Trocchi's own experience) in a forthright and existential style.
Trocchi was a very active figure in the Underground literary scene of the 1960s, taking an active part in such events as The Invisible Insurrection of Minds, outraging the establishment by writing S&M porn for Maurice Girodias' Olympia Press ( the French imprint that issued the likes of Beckett, 'Naked Lunch', 'Lolita' and Henry Miller in the days when attempting to bring such books into the UK resulted in their immediate seizure at customs) and -reportedly - pimping out his wife to earn money to buy smack. Sadly, Trocchi's published ouevre is small and primarily comprises 'Cain's Book' and another great novel, 'Young Adam', which can best be described as an erotic Camus set aboard a canal barge.
If you like Burroughs, the French Existentialists, the American Beats, then Trocchi is essential reading. Once you've read him, spread the word, as I can think of no other figure in British literature more ignored at present , when he should be lauded across the breadth of UK literary culture.
Stephen E. Andrews, author, '100 Must Read Books For Men'