Join us in welcoming Santa Cruz native Molly Prentiss for her debut novel, Tuesday Nights in 1980—a riveting exploration of fame, humanity, art, and loss.
1980 in New York City: As SoHo and the downtown arts scene are bursting with energy and artistic fervor—when Basquiat, Haring, Koons, and Warhol are producing their most famous works—art is becoming luxury, commentary, commodity. New York is pulsating with creativity, but commercialization is about to move across town like a steamroller.
James Bennett is an art critic whose popular reviews stem from his having synesthesia, a condition that allows him to feel colors; he can feel the emotion (or lack thereof) in each painting, and also in the people around him. His wife Marge is red as a ripe strawberry, the wealthy New Yorkers at art openings are coated in royal purple, and a young girl from the Midwest is gold like the color of corn. He gains renown for his ability to describe art in profound, magical ways, but also for his uncanny ability to spot up-and-coming artists. At a gallery owner’s New Year’s Eve party, James first sees Raul Engales. Exiled from Argentina, running from his past and the Dirty War that has enveloped his country, Raul is a searingly talented painter who is on the cusp of making it big. Lucy Olliason, who meets Raul shortly after midnight, is a beautiful young woman recently arrived from Idaho to New York with one suitcase and not a lot else, hoping to surround herself with art and energy.
Against this tumultuous backdrop, Molly Prentiss sets her debut novel, Tuesday Nights in 1980, and gives us the unforgettable story of an art critic, an artist and his muse.
This is the story of how, over the course of one year, the fates of James, Raul and Lucy reach epic heights, only to crash down when each suffers a personal trauma that forces them to face a world in which the very thing that defines them is taken away. When you lose the thing that defines you, who do you become?
Molly Prentiss was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California. She was a Writer in Residence at Workspace at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and at the Blue Mountain Center and was chosen as an Emerging Writer Fellow by the Aspen Writers Foundation. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the California College of the Arts and now lives in Brooklyn.