Prodigal sons Medlar Lucan and Durian Gray (coauthors of The Decadent Cookbook) resurface with The Decadent Traveller. In the late-19th-century regalia and spirit of aesthetes and decadents, the erstwhile restaurateurs underwent the rigors of exile (after being chased from Edinburgh by creditors and the authorities), "seeking out degradation and debauchery" in extravagant underworlds. With self-indulgence as their modus operandi, they didn't always satisfy their own expectations, and while pleasing themselves and others immensely at times, they ultimately experienced travel as "a kind of hell in the crucible of the Decadent imagination." Culinary, sexual and sensory misadventures in St. Petersburg, Cairo, Tokyo and elsewhere (in their introduction, editors Alex Martin and Jerome Fletcher allow that "[t]hese may be elaborate fictions") will delight fans of this pseudonymous duo. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
This is the third book by the pseudonymous Lucan and Gray (after The Decadent Cookbook and The Decadent Gardener), who in the true spirit of decadence pursue ever more bizarre and perverse pleasures in their travels to St. Petersburg, Naples, Cairo, Tokyo, New Orleans, and Buenos Aires. They are disdainful of package tours and airports with "hordes of peasantry drifting like grazing bovines." The two aesthetes quote Baudelaire and Huysmans and also offer excerpts from Lafcadio Hearn, Aleister Crowley, Oscar Wilde, and Gustave Flaubert. In fact, these passages are the best parts of the book; for instance, the most readable section of the essay on Tokyo is the excerpt from Hearn's Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan. Lucan and Durian are literate and occasionally witty, but it is the sheer tastelessness of what tries to pass for literary bawdry that compels this reviewer to give the book a thumbs down. Ravi Shenoy, Naperville P.L., IL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
The continued escapades of the authors of The Decadent Cookbook (not reviewed), who hit the road in search of adventure. After a police raid closed down the Decadent Restaurant (whose "Circe Room"-in which tethered naked clients would eat "overpriced pig swill" from a trough-proved too much for the local authorities), Lucan and Gray had to flee Edinburgh with creditors in hot pursuit. Exile and rootlessness are in perfect accord with the ideals of decadent living, of course, so the two embarked on a "florid and debased" tour of the world's most decadent cities (as judged by the level of "perversion and depravity" to be found there). In St. Petersburg, Gray procured an illegal colonoscopy from a corrupt medical professional; in Naples, they witnessed an orgy in a Catholic church; in Cairo, they reminisced on decadent travelers long past and experimented in astral travel; in Tokyo, they recounted a surprisingly innocent story of the "Ghost children of Japan"; and in New Orleans, Lucan channeled an indescribably foul experience of a famously decadent forebear involving three days at a peephole in a women's bathroom in the South of France. The authors' gross escapades are, unfortunately, neither comic nor erotic and fill up a disappointing number of pages between occasional displays of genuine wit (for instance, a panegyric on the virtues of dying decadently). Little effort is spent, either, in developing the characters of the two authors beyond expounding their debauchee statuses; this, along with the shallow and repetitious nature of their experiences, provides little foothold for becoming involved in their excursions-presuming, of course, that one would even want to. A cesspool ofatravelogue that few will be likely to wade through.