Review of Molly Prentiss’ “Tuesday Nights in 1980”

My review of Molly Prentiss’ novel Tuesday Nights in 1980 is now up on the Review31 site.

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-12-12-23“There is a great joy in reading about people falling in love with art. Such is this joy’s power that a writer need only offer the barest narrative outline – discovery, infatuation, transformation – and the reader will fill in the gaps with their own histories. Novels like Molly Prentiss’ Tuesday Nights in 1980 summon those romantic fixtures of artistic life – glamorous poverty, bands of outsiders, troubled geniuses – and these familiar tropes, like Roland Barthes’ ‘readerly texts,’ reassure us and reinforce our intuitions about the world. These are comforting narratives, and they sustain our love of art and of stories. Enjoyment, though, can be tricky for critics. Is an enjoyable novel necessarily a good or well-written one?

Tuesday Nights in 1980 covers the titular year in the lives of an interconnected group of characters – Raul Engales, an artist newly arrived in New York from Argentina; James, a synesthetic art critic; his wife Marge; and Lucy, the rural ingenue who, infatuated with the artistic life, becomes Raul’s lover. The novel is incredibly pleasurable, but this can obscure some of its problems, most of which are stylistic.”