This “vivid portrait of a seedy, edgy, artsy, and seething New York City that will never exist again” (Elizabeth Gilbert, New York Times bestselling author)—the glittering, decadent downtown club scene of the 1980s—follows a smart, vulnerable young woman as she takes a deep dive into her dark side. Essential reading for fans of Sweetbitter, Fleabag, and books by Patti Smith.
New York, 1984: Twenty-two-year-old Phoebe Hayes is a young woman in search of excitement and adventure. But the recent death of her father has so devastated her that her mother wants her to remain home in Baltimore to recover. Phoebe wants to return to New York, not only to chase the glamorous life she so desperately craves but also to confront Ivan, the older man who wronged her.
With her best friend Carmen, she escapes to the East Village, disappearing into an underworld haunted by artists, It Girls, and lost souls trying to party their pain away. Carmen juggles her junkie-poet boyfriend and a sexy painter while, as Astrid the Star Girl, Phoebe tells fortunes in a nightclub and plots her revenge on Ivan. When the intoxicating brew of sex, drugs, and self-destruction leads Phoebe to betray her friend, Carmen disappears, and Phoebe begins an unstoppable descent into darkness.
“A new wave coming-of-age story, Astrid Sees All is a blast from the past” (Stewart O’Nan, author of The Speed Queen) about female friendship, sex, romance, and what it’s like to be a young woman searching for an identity.
Standiford (The Secret Tree) makes her adult fiction debut with an infectious if overwrought tale of obsessive friendship and identity set in the gritty Lower East Side of 1980s New York City. Phoebe Hayes moves to the Upper West Side to be near Carmen Dietz, a girl from her college whose cavalier attitude and cosmopolitan sensibility instantly captivates Baltimore-bred Phoebe. Phoebe becomes enmeshed in Carmen's life, and they move downtown to be near the nightclub scene. After Phoebe's father dies of leukemia, she takes a job at the hip club Plutonium as a fortune-teller named Astrid, and her life revolves around partying with Carmen. But then young women from the neighborhood begin to go missing and Phoebe feels like she's being followed. Carmen's approval is crucial to Phoebe, though after Phoebe hooks up with Carmen's artist boyfriend, their friendship fractures. A bizarre plot turn will leave readers scratching their heads, and stilted metaphors don't help ("My immune system was fighting off an infection of grief"), but Standiford evokes the setting with spot-on details, including cameos by John F. Kennedy Jr. and Andy Warhol, and she does a good job developing the friendship between the two women. Unfortunately, the missteps undermine Phoebe and Carmen's engaging dynamics.