Columbia Review of Books and Film on Lucien and I

Reviewed by AVRAHAM AZRIELI

“Lucien and I” a novel by Danny Wynn (Bright Lights Big City Books, 2015) is a novel of unique atmosphere, unusual relationships, and a richness of male bonding and male depravity reminiscent of classical masculine friendship novels, such as “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde, “Brideshead Revisited” by Evelyn Waugh, or “The Pupil” by Henry James. Yet, unlike the classics, “Lucien and I” lets readers into a male friendship that’s ultra-modern and infused with twenty-first century intensity and fast pace.

The twist here, and the spice, as well, is the age difference between the main characters: David, who at the gates to his forties is on the verge of middle age, yet lives a life of singlehood and freedom, and Lucien, a much younger, charismatic Englishman, who provides David with an opportunity to experience youth again—and pay the appropriate price for it.

The story jets between exciting locales, including New York City, Istanbul, Majorca, and the Hamptons, while the two men form a close yet risqué bond as they share (sometimes literally) enchanting women, drugs, and careless adventures that bring them close to the edge.

Author Danny Wynn (“Man from the Sky”) managed to successfully walk a fine line, gradually revealing David through the evolution of his progressively close—or even obsessive—relationship with the younger man. As in all good stories, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, or good aspirations, or, as in this case, deliciously good promiscuous fun, and more fun, until all hell breaks loose—which is more fun for the reader.

As we accompany David on his journey of re-lived youth with striking new acquaintances while jet setting to exotic locales, his voice (the novel is told in the first person) is disarmingly sincere and matter-of-fact. Here, for example, is David speaking about Lucien: “He and I were walking along the main street of Bebek one evening on our way to get the rental car from the dirt lot where we parked it. “You know, it’s funny,” I said, “you’re such an ugly bastard, but beautiful women really do go for you.” Not only this brief exchange is completely realistic, but who among us don’t have an ugly friend who seems to get all the action? In short, Mr. Wynn’s writing is so even-tempered and journalistic that we believe the events reported had actually occurred—which is the height of great fiction.

In summary, “Lucien and I” by Danny Wynn is an exciting novel told with a fresh, perceptive and captivating voice, populated by enchanting lead characters engaged in non-stop exposure to a vibrant life in motion—travel, debauchery, thrills, and a wonderfully broad canvas of myriad personalities painted vividly against both glamorous and seedy locations. An excellent read!