Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss
Fiction – Contemporary
Published April 5th 2016 by Gallery/Scout Press
I expected to love this book, I really wanted to love this book, but I just couldn’t love it . I don’t know what’s been up with me lately but nothing I’ve been picking has been particularly moving and/or just gotten me all that interested. So if anyone has any recommendations hit me up, I need something to get me out of this ⅗ star rut
So What’s It About
It’s the 1980s in New York and the art scene is thriving as we follow an artist and an art critic as their lives intertwine. James Bennett is a critic at the New York Times and one of the most influential critics in the city. Raul Engales is an Argentinian painter who escaped the war that is plaguing his country and leaving key family members behind. As these two been fall in love with the scene developing around them they are accidentally brought together by Lucy Olliason. A small town beauty from Idaho who had dreams of what New York City should be and found a life as Raul’s love and muse.
Everything about this book is something I should have loved, but didn’t. The only reason I finished it is because I needed to know how it ended. The ending conflict came too late for my tastes and I wanted more from that scene and less of everything that came before it. The character of James is odd in a way that never let me actually like him or feel for him even. He has a condition called synesthesia that means the things he sees and feels are translated to colors and smells. I actually really liked Prentiss’ descriptions and how James art criticism was moving and effective because of this. What I didn’t like was when his condition magically disappeared and he had to get it back. Whether that’s how it scientifically works or not it took me out of the story because it just felt so forced and little too mystical. Especially when the art scene and the city were magical all on their own and could have been emphasized a lot more versus this fake mystical thing for one man.
Raul was the bright spot for me. You could understand his motives even when he was a jackass and he felt like a person. He’s completely thick-headed and brash and makes decisions without thinking of the repercussions. He has all the confidence in the world yet also the fragile ego of an emerging artist trope. He felt real to me in the way he fell for Lucy fast and without thinking. I also genuinely liked Lucy. She was young and incredibly naïve about life and I thought her ending, while slightly disappointing, is true for many people whether they are in New York or not. She’s that girl who who watched Sex and the City with her friends every weekend and when she graduated decided she would be the next Carrie Bradshaw and move to New York. She had the confidence of an 18 year old where the world is theirs and I loved that it wasn’t over-stated, it just was.
“Love, like luck, was for the lucky. Love was for the people who could afford to lose it, for those who had room in their lives for loss, whose quota of losses had not already been filled.”
“Never trust anyone who wants to be in charge, his father had often said”
No, it’s tough, I like the idea of this novel but not the novel itself. My favorite parts (Raul’s sister and nephew) were barely shown, which I understand is the point but I could have read a whole book about them. While I didn’t care for this one I did finish it and understand what other people probably liked about it. I just wasn’t one of them.