Intro: Her destination, that summer of 1977, is a luxury apartment building, upper Fifth Avenue, a slice of New York life completely alien to her. After the doorman confirms she’s expected and nods her toward the elevators, Erica crosses a sumptuous lobby tastefully decorated with white leather couches and stainless steel tables covered with lavish flower arrangements. She is shaking. She awkwardly recites the all-purpose, three-line mantra that Addie McC. has assured her will always help get her through any situation. In the paneled elevator, she rides to the floor below the penthouse, where Addie McC. ushers her into an apartment with yet more expanses of white; it feels like entering a thirties movie set—there’s even a French bulldog to go with the expensive view of Central Park.
Teaser: Leaving his building stoned only on caffeine, Erica stumbled and reeled as if she were drunk. She caught a bus, transferred to another, sat with her eyes tightly shut and willed herself not to think of him. And to her surprise, she was successful. (p. 125)
Amazon Blurb: When twenty-something artist Erica Mason moves from laid-back Mexico to Manhattan in the mid-1970s, she finds a hard-edged, decadent, and radically evolving art scene.
Peppered with characters who could only come from the latter days of the turn-on-and-drop-out ’60s in then-crumbling New York (a spaced-out drummer who’s completely given up on using or making money, a radical feminist who glues animal furs to her paintings of vaginas, and icons in the making like Patti Smith), Erica’s New York is fast-moving, funny, and heartrending just like the city itself. Ultimately, her rite of passage is not only a love affair with art, men, alcohol, drugs, and music in the swirl that was the downtown scene in a radically evolving era in New York, but also a resurrection from addiction and self-delusion.
More than the study of a celebrated period of artistic expression, Cleans Up Nicely is the story of one gifted young woman’s path from self-destruction to a hard-won self-knowledge that opens up a whole new world for her and helps her claim the self-respect that has long eluded her.
I am eagerly anticipating plunging into this book, a tale that spotlights a long-ago time that means youth for some of us. What do you think of the opening? Would you keep reading?