EATING CAKE UNDERGROUND
Buenos Aires, Argentina
The meetings happen on Tuesdays, in the basement of Cafe Crocodile. They're at six o'clock sharp. To get there in time, Franca Engales Morales has to close up the bakery early. She has just under an hour to finish up the last cake, mop the floor, pull the grate. She's hurrying, tossing the cake's thick yellow batter with her big wooden spoon, blowing her bangs from her eyes. She swipes a finger in, licks it, decides to add poppy seeds, dumps in a generous sprinkle. Pulls her favorite Bundt pan - the red one with scalloped edges - works a slab of butter up the sides with her fingers. Then she pours in a layer of the yellow mix, which settles like mud. A layer of brown sugar and cinnamon, and then another layer of batter. Thirty-five minutes for the cake to bake, then she'll tuck a sheet of foil around its plate. She'll step out into what's left of the winter and there will be a pang in her chest as she clicks closed the oversize lock on the grate. She'll lose customers from closing early, she knows. And she can't afford to, she knows. But what are a few customers against the rest of it? Against what will be lost of she doesn't go to the meetings at all?Tuesday Nights in 1980
by Molly Prentiss
I don't know about you, but I want to know what those meetings are all about. After reading Ti's review, I downloaded this book from the library and am about to get started. New York City, art scene, 1980s? I'm sold. But in case you'd like more...
Here is the goodreads summary:
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.A Visit From The Goon Squad and The Interestings were both among my favorites a few years ago, and Ti has never steered me wrong. I think that bodes well for this novel.
What do you think? Would you keep reading?
Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.