From Publishers Weekly
Hoban (Riddley Walker, etc.) spins a light, wry fantasy about a middle-aged writer's past misdeeds, faltering career and misapprehensions about love. Max Lesser, a writer of "novels that don't sell, children's picture books that do," is on his way to lunch when a smelly dwarf, invisible to all but Max, affixes itself to him. Named Apasmara ("forgetfulness" in Hindu mythology), the dwarf reminds him not to forget his long-lost love, Lola Bessington. Subsequent flashbacks reveal how Max met the youthful, well-to-do Lola at a London record shop and promptly decided that she was his "destiny." Of course, then he quickly enjoys a flirtation with a curvy Texan, Lula Mae Flowers. Both women get pregnant; Lola disappears; and, oh, the battles Max has with his logical mind. He also spars with his protagonist, Moe Levy, whose "Page One" he can't even write, and Charlotte Prickles, the popular hedgehog heroine of his children's series. Meanwhile, Lola, accompanied by her new son Noah, finds enlightenment at a Zen center called Diamond Heart, where she learns to play the sarod and composes a raga that will eventually bring her and her love together again. Hoban's quirky, tender tale progresses in brief chapters and playful leaps to come looping back full circle; some readers will enjoy the journey, while others will find that Hoban's form trumps his content.
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Hoban, author of a best-selling picture book series about a whimsical badger named Frances, as well as several novels for adults, including the cult classic Riddley Walker (1980), again offers something completely different. This wonderfully funny, refreshing, and compelling love story will grab readers from the moment they meet clueless Max Lesser, a children's book author and somewhat successful adult fiction writer who is suffering from a major case of writer's block. When Max meets Lola Bessington, he declares her his "destiny woman." All other women pale in comparison to Lola--except for the lovely Lulu Mae Flowers, who signals the beginning of a major life catastrophe for Max. Hoban gives the reader a rare glimpse into a writer's creative process, using the story-within-a-story-within-a-story structure to good effect and making the most of Max's ongoing conversations with his phantoms and his own characters. Delivering a metaphorical kick in the pants to those who live too much in our minds, this delightful novel urges us to live our destiny and stop postponing our dreams. Jennifer Baker
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