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Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss

Tuesday Nights in 1980

by Molly Prentiss

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Spend enough time with New Yorkers and you'll get an earful about gentrification and Disneyfied Times Square. If you, too, reminisce about a grittier and more authentic NYC, you will enjoy Tuesday Nights in 1980. Time: The dawn of the '80's, the age of disco, women's lib, and just before AIDS, when everything felt wild and excessive. Setting: The arts scene of high end dealers, top auction houses, galleries in abandoned factories, and artist studios in rundown squats. The players: Raul, talented, broke painter on the cusp of notoriety and fame with a mystical connection to a sister left behind in dictatorial Argentina. Young, fresh-faced Lucy, newly arrived from the Midwest and ready to start life and adventure. Peculiar James, who turns his synesthesia into success as a top art critic. From disparate backgrounds, the three each find a way into the edgy art world and connect in ways surprising, erotic, and tragic. Each sustains a loss which may jeopardize their place in this rarified world.

I enjoyed learning about synesthesia, a condition in which the senses overlap. James can look at art and experience sounds, smells and flavors. Numbers and people take on explosive colors. Prentiss uses his unique experiences to make the art exciting, fresh and palpable. The narrative gained an immediacy by being always in the present -- one character picks up at exactly the point where another left off. I was rapt until the end and quite satisfied with the ending.

The publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. ( )
2 vote michigantrumpet | Feb 4, 2017 |
I really enjoyed this book -- it took me a while to get into it (there were complicating factors of a migraine, the DNC, and two Shakespeare festival plays) but once I did I couldn't put it down and indeed read the last half in one fell swoop. The ending is a bit neat, but on the other hand I really loved Marge. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
I could not pinpoint what exactly I loved about this book but I was so sad to finish it because I didn't want it to end. The story is a series of interconnected experience about a handful of people whose paths cross in 1980 in New York. The format works better than so many that attempt this type of thing. The alternating perspectives never overlap, so where one leaves off, another picks up. It gives you such a well rounded view of all of the people in the story. It was moving, it was interesting, and the writing about the art was so much fun! So glad I picked this one up. ( )
  mwatson4281 | Aug 4, 2016 |
The nostalgia factor here was a lot of fun—I arrived in downtown NYC in 1981, with the ink on my high school diploma not yet dry, and Prentiss's portrait of the Soho/E. Village arts community on the cusp of becoming the Next Big Thing, still energetic and dirty, was enjoyable. But the characters fell a bit flat for me—for all the narrative of their inner lives, I never engaged with them completely.

And there was an underlying sense of research, as opposed to experience—obviously the author would have to be in her 50s now to have been there, and that's not her fault, but the grit and the discomfort that accompanied all that glamour didn't quite make it off the page. Also a few factual errors that probably wouldn't have thrown me except for a passing mention of seeing what Prentiss clearly intended to be AIDS patients in a hospital—not in 1980, no; that would be a year later at the earliest. Anyway, that's a quibble. More important, it's hard to write about art and art-making (and art reviewing), and I didn't feel the power here. But it was a good first novel, and I look forward to seeing whatever she takes on next. ( )
  lisapeet | Jul 18, 2016 |
An AmazonVine find, the cover and title on Tuesday Nights in 1980 captured my interest straight away, as did the New York setting. This is a story about three people, Lucy, Raul and James and how their lives intersect.

I enjoyed the 1980’s NYC setting and found that the author wove the art scene into the storyline really nicely.

Raul is originally from Argentina where he lived with his older sister until she found a husband who he did not care for. This husband is what eventually makes Raul come to NYC and pursue his art career while leaving his beloved sister behind. Raul loves creating art and is looking for his muse.

"He had always wanted exactly what he had now: to be able to paint for a reason. But now that he had one, he felt that the reason was arbitrary, which made the painting seem that way."
p.131, Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss

James is an interesting character because he has synesthesia. He sees and experiences life differently and his way of viewing things makes him a unique kind of art critic. I felt like James was kind of a mess, but his flaws made him interesting.

This was a coming of age story for Lucy, the small town girl living in the big city. I felt like Lucy was a weak character, she clung to men to make herself feel complete. Even during a time of crisis, she sought out a former lover. This character flaw however could probably be attributed to her being so young still.

Towards the latter half of the story there was a wrench in the book that I did not see coming. Things got complicated and I wondered how it would all turn out. I did find the ending dragged on a bit for my taste, but overall I enjoyed this one.
Molly Prentiss weaves an interesting story about art, love, sex and NYC during the 1980’s.

Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I obtained my free review copy of Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss via AmazonVine. ( )
  bookworm_naida | Jul 13, 2016 |
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