Kirkus Reviews – Lucien And I

KIrkus Reviews:  Lucien And I is a flurry of snapshots that gradually coalesce into a picture of tarnished longings.

A friendship charged with intense emotions, sexual rivalry, and philosophical rumination takes shape in an international beau monde of nightclubs and scenesters in Wynn’s novel.

David Burdon is a 40-ish record company executive who yearns for a golden youth he never had.  He finds himself rejuvenated when he meets Lucien – an alluring, mysterious, vaguely British 20-something man with no particular career whose life is an endless quest for sensual experience.  Their story unfolds in a collage of anachronistic scenes over a period of a few years in the mid-1990s.  Most of the narrative shows David socializing with Lucien and his circle, and their movable feast travels among various New York City dance clubs and nightspots, a vacation house n the Hamptons, and Istanbul, whose atmosphere Wynn paints in lavish detail (“Across the water, an early moon was faintly visible against the cobalt sky, hanging low over the Asian Hills on the far shore.  The light had a soft exceptional quality; the air was strikingly clear.”)  The assembled pals and hangers-on dance themselves into a trance, get high on marijuana and mushrooms, regale each other with laddish banter, and sometimes discuss more serious topics, such as the purpose of life, the nature of morality, and the meanings of various movies, music, and literature.   Lucien presides with a dandyish charisma and Mephistophelian smolder, and readers will expect the besotted David to succumb to the deviltry emanating from him – principally in the form of Lucien’s girlfriend, Sharon, a self-centered sexpot who likes to parade around topless and brazenly rub herself against he protagonist.  The corruptions that finally undermine these relationships are foreseeable and not intended to come as a surprise.  But along the way, Wynn immerses readers in psychologically rich studies of his characters and their quiet but fraught interactions; Sharon, for example, could have been portrayed as a stereotypical bimbo, but Wynn’s portrait manages to give her real presence and complexity.  The prose is subtle but vivid, intellectually engaged but never arid, as the author provides readers with a flurry of snapshots that gradually coalesce into a picture of tarnished longings.

An engrossing and vibrant meditation on friendship and the deep currents that run beneath its surface.