An intoxicating and transcendent debut novel that follows a critic, an artist, and their shared muse as they find their way - and ultimately collide - amid the ever-evolving New York City art scene of the 1980s.
Welcome to SoHo at the onset of the '80s: a gritty, quickly gentrifying playground for artists and writers looking to make it in the big city. Among them: James Bennett, a synesthetic art critic for The New York Times whose unlikely condition enables him to describe art in profound, magical ways; and Raul Engales, an exiled Argentinian painter running from his past and the Dirty War that has enveloped his country. As the two men ascend in the downtown arts scene, dual tragedies strike, and each is faced with a loss that acutely affects his relationship to life and to art.
It is not until they are inadvertently brought together by Lucy Olliason - a small-town beauty and Raul's muse - and a young orphan boy sent mysteriously from Buenos Aires that James and Raul are able to rediscover some semblance of what they've lost.
As inventive as Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad and as sweeping as Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings, Tuesday Nights in 1980boldly renders a complex moment when the meaning and nature of art is being all but upended, and New York City as a whole is reinventing itself. In risk-taking prose that is as powerful as it is playful, Molly Prentiss deftly explores the need for beauty, community, creation, and love in an ever-changing urban landscape.
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Quirky charming funny & ultimately beautiful
- Roscoepound the Hound
Full of stuff I wanted to know
First of all, kudos to Molly Prentiss for putting together an enormously interesting book. However, in some cases it was so overwrought, it seemed like a soap opera that tries to make the slightest bit of drama and one well written line last for 30 minutes. Too much of that. Still, the story was engaging and I learned a little about a fascinating art world.
My favorite character was the art world. As I said, some of the relationship stuff dragged on way, way, way too long because the particpants were reduced to excessively self-absorbed idiots who couldn't put a sentence together. Maybe Prentiss intended to reveal their overwhelming narcissistic fantasies but listening forever to someone's immature interiority is hard work for the reader/listener.
He was a great narrator. I didn't read the book so I don't know if he added nuance I might have otherwise missed.
Did you already ask me that?
I really recommend this book.