(Note to Readers: This is my new thing – giving you a quick review of a book in case you need something to read over the weekend. Enjoy!)
I love all things Eighties. It was the decade of my youth, one complimented by bad clothes, big hair, and good music. The art scene that erupted during the early part of the decade is captured well in Molly Prentiss’ debut novel, Tuesday Nights In 1980.
My favorite thing about this book is the world Prentiss built. She makes the reader feel all of the usual elements of the era: the grime, the art, the poverty, the selfishness. Prentiss’ writing style brought to mind a Bret Easton Ellis-type of quality, another writer who encapsulates the atmosphere of my favorite decade flawlessly. I could feel the sticky heat of New York wafting through the pages. In my mind as I read, a sheath of grey appeared, setting me up for the bumpy ride I was going to endure as I started the story.
~My favorite thing about this book is the world Prentiss built…the grime, the art, the poverty, the selfishness.~
The story centers around three characters: the tortured artist Raul, his devoted fan/critic James, and the girl stuck in the middle of these two artistic souls, Lucy. While there are several interesting side characters (I enjoyed Arlene’s energy!), these three run the narrative: from its spectacular rise, through the whirlwind, to the crashing halt. Another fantastic element of this book is the timing. Most contemporary fiction doesn’t dangle the carrot at the end of each chapter. Prentiss bucks that trend and finds a way to keep you turning the page. The pace of the story beats well and you find yourself wanting to know what becomes of these broken characters after the year 1980 ends (although Prentiss is kind enough to give you a small taste among the final pages).
4/5 Stars: Definitely the best novel I’ve read from a new author thus far this year. I’m really looking forward to more from this writer. If you enjoy art, music, insanity, nostalgia, and/or flashbacks to the era of Warhol, Lennon, and Basquiat – pick this one up!