A chance sighting of Medlar Lucan and Durian Gray in El Perriquito, a clandestine cabaret/brothel in old Havana, has led to the publishing coup of the millennium. The authors of The Decadent Cookbook and The Decadent Gardener have been lured by the promise of grotesque sums into taking up their pens once again, and laying bare the transgressive nature of another bourgeois passion - travel. The Decadent Traveller is a timely antidote to the nightmare world of backpacks, duty-frees and gastro-enteritis. It has little truck with 'adventure' holidays ("Trekking- that hideous gerund"- Durian Gray) or the sad illusion of two weeks as a middle-class peasant in Provence. ("I'd rather catch a dose of syphilis than stay in a renovated farmhouse"- Medlar Lucan.) Lucan & Gray offer a sexual grand tour, a guide to all the places you are warned to avoid, and a compendium of louche conveyances: from Caligula's jewelled ship to Soraya Khashoggi's chocolate-filled executive jet.
This title follows in the hoofprints of The Decadent Cookbook and The Decadent Gardener, and is written in the same blackly witty manner. Medlar and Durian 'have been garlanded by critics and hounded by debt-collectors across the globe', we are told. 'From time to time they appear in cabaret and at priapic festivals, offering a taste of their extreme cooking and eclectic lifestyle.' They are currently living 'at El Periquito, a cabaret-brothel in Havana', but for this edition they kindly step out to such hotspots as St Petersburg, Naples, Cairo, Tokyo, New Orleans and Buenos Aires to provide us with 'a stinking pot pourri of travel anecdotes, contentious opinions...graphic - and often pornographic diary entries, left-luggage tickets and unpaid hotel bills'. Apparently the pair were forced to embark on their journey when their Decadent Restaurant in Edinburgh was raided in 1994. Like at least one of their namesakes, they disappeared without trace (and transferred to the first available cheap flight out of the UK). 'At the restaurant we had often argued that to follow the path of true Decadence means to condemn oneself to a lifetime of rootlessness,' they write 'Our true vocation, we averred, was exile [and] we too were drawn towards it as to a lodestone, compelled by the electro-magnetism of our souls.' Thence the story begins, and you probably get the gist of the kind of book this is by now. Such bawdy brio saturates its mix of philosophy, satire and monologue throughout, but the tone is unremittingly dark so it's perhaps not the ideal gift for the easily offended. (Kirkus UK)