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Tuesday Nights in 1980 (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Brilliant! A beautiful story. A sad story. A real story. Brilliant! -Randy's April Staff Pick, 2016

In many ways, “Tuesday Nights in 1980″ is a love letter to Manhattan at the dawn of an adventurous decade. The city is dirty and grimy; there’s no pristine Times Square or gentrified Greenwich Village, but there is a vibrant art scene in full swing, helmed by folks like Andy Warhol.

By setting her debut novel in this era, Prentiss has the luxury of utilizing the brash inventiveness of New York’s art world as character itself. The scene is not pretty; it’s a gossipy, creative and cutthroat world that devours the weak. It is against this backdrop that she introduces three characters—an art critic, a painter from Argentina who has come to America to escape his past and a small town girl making her way in a big new world.

The book is a another breakout work for Prentiss who displays a delicate craftsmanship in her storytelling. As these characters dodge and weave into and around each other’s lives she skillfully builds toward a crescendo that will leave an indelible mark upon their lives and their art.

Another interesting component of her novel is that each of her protagonists is flawed in some way. By using an artist, a critic and a newbie who becomes an artistic muse, Prentiss explores a time when Soho’s art scene was still a subversive movement where creativity was tenaciously born amidst the muck of chaos. This allows each of her creations to face challenges in finding success and acceptance while simultaneously forcing them into develop their own rapport between life and art.

Manhattan itself, in all of sleazy glory, is a character unto itself. Its day-to-day grind can both stifle and stimulate creativity. Its movements in art, music, film and theater are smoldering underground, waiting to burst to the surface by the end of the new decade and reshape the city itself as the artistic capital of the universe.

“Tuesday Nights in 1980″ is a precise and affectionate work of dramatic fiction that explores the dynamism between art and life as it embodies the hopes, dreams and aspiration of artists looking to find their path in the dingy playground of Manhattan’s underground.

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— From 04-2016


"In one sentence, Ms. Prentiss captures a sense of intoxication and possibility that six seasons of voice-overs from Sarah Jessica Parker never could...Ms. Prentiss concludes her novel on a note that's both ethereal and brutally realistic. She cauterizes wounds, but they're still visible and bare. But for her characters--for this promising author--it's enough." --The New York Times

"An intoxicating Manhattan fairy tale...As affecting as it is absorbing. A thrilling debut." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"A vital, sensuous, edgy, and suspenseful tale of longing, rage, fear, compulsion, and love." --Booklist (starred review)

A transcendent debut novel that follows a critic, an artist, and a desirous, determined young woman 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 eighties: a gritty, not-yet-gentrified 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 1980 boldly 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.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781501121043
ISBN-10: 1501121049
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication Date: April 5th, 2016
Pages: 336
Language: English