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Her Name Was Lola: A Novel Hardcover – July 7, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

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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From Booklist

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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing; First Edition edition (July 7, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559707267
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559707268
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,467,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on October 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
London-based American writer Hoban, who has written 12 novels for adults and over 60 children's books, gives us London-based (possibly American - he's always being taken for a visitor) writer Max who writes "novels that don't sell, children's picture books that do." One of Hoban's novels is the majorly successful "Riddley Walker," but Max is also about 35 years younger than Hoban, so the comparison, invited by his story-within-a-story form, holds and the dedication to a friend, "a.k.a. known as Seamus Flannery," the character who happens to be Max's best friend, reinforces it.

The book opens in 2001 when Max, suffering "blighter's rock," over both his novel and his children's book, collects an unlabeled CD in the mail, and goes to meet Seamus for lunch. Suddenly "the world becomes not there and he has to stop in his tracks while he sees nothing but moving shapes of black. ...He'd like to think it's his mind playing up but this feels as if it's coming from somewhere else. The black shapes are as sharp as double-edged razor blades and Max fears that if he makes a wrong move blood will come out of his eyes and ears and nose and mouth. What would be a wrong move? A wrong thought?"

When the world returns, a foul smelling, ebony-skinned dwarf is writhing on the ground toward him and demanding to be carried. He is heavy, and while no one else can see him, Max has to claim an injured back to explain his posture. With the help of his mind (a major, talkative and sensible character) he places the dwarf as Apasmara, the Hindu demon of forgetfulness and, with a little more help, remembers the CD, an Indian raga. "Lola!
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Format: Paperback
Although an avid reader, I only recently discovered Hoban. My first experience was "Pilgermann" so imagine my reaction to this work! All I can say is that I am thankful that I can look forward to reading this artist's other works - If you want meaning beyond mere entertainment, Hoban is a good starting point. Just keep access to your search engine of choice handy - you also might learn something - about yourself - about your world - not a bad outcome.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mark Forrester on August 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I read this novel largely on the basis of an enthusiastic review in the Washington Post, and it made perfect weekend get-away reading (although it was too much fun to spread out over the whole weekend; I finished it on the first day). It is neither as ambitious nor as accomplished as the Post review suggests, but it is a delightful and intelligent comic romance.
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