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Lola, California: A Novel Hardcover – July 5, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
"The Nest" by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance. Learn more | See author page

Editorial Reviews


“This gorgeous, audacious novel goes far beyond a story of two girls, though. Lana and Rose grew up in Berkeley, California in the 1980s, and the book is as much about that town and the millennial Northern California zeitgeist as any character. Meidav is harrowingly precise in her descriptions of the place . . . Lola, California is a startling novel, as prodigiously smart as it is technically proficient. Her characters may be narcissistic zeligs, but Meidav is an American original.” —Anne Trubek, The Daily Beast

“In the tightly written Lola, California, Edie Meidav explores the concept of personal choice through the story of a polemical scientist/author, his Feminist-theorist wife, their daughter, and the daughter’s best friend . . . But it’s Meidav’s unusual prose that is the star of this book. Her style is sculptural; she chips away at the text, dispensing with unnecessary words and punctuation, making even the longer sentences punchy and rhythmic. And in the same way that the characters all dance around the main issues, Meidav’s writing evokes a linguistic rope-a-dope.” —The Hipster Book Club

“A decades-old murder in New Age-inflected Berkeley forces a reunion between two high-school best friends in Edie Meidav’s textured, disquieting third novel. Lola, California plumbs the rise and fall of a friendship, finding its terrifying resonance for the adults it produced.” —Ellen Wernecke, The AV Club

“Poignant . . . Brilliantly evoking the millennial shadows that haunt its California setting and rich with humor and heartache, it’s one of the most arresting and thought-provoking books of the season.” —The Barnes & Noble Review

“[Meidav’s] greatest gift in this novel is the element of surprise, which is a common trait among the best thriller writers but is more difficult to hatch in an artful social novel. Meidav creates a beautiful and true picture of female friendship, but as if that were not enough, she also keeps us guessing about who her characters really are, and how much weight their evaluations of each other actually hold.” —Liz Colville, The Daily

“Meidav succeeds brilliantly in creating an authentic friendship between Lana and Rose, one that is messy, captivating, and durable. The Lolas are their most powerful testament to each other, and to the writer herself.” —Michelle Koufopoulos, The Faster Times

“An intimate and lyrical look at the choices that bind friends and family together, yet also push them apart.” —Roni K. Devlin, Shelf Awareness

Brilliant . . . awesome.--Publisher's Weekly

Meidav is a rare thing, a less than well known writer who continues to publish big, dense, challenging novels with a major press. Should Meidav be better known? Almost definitely.
--The Millions, Most Anticipated Books of 2011

From the Author

Dear Amazonians,
I reached into everything I knew about California and friendship and tried to bring it forth in this book. Some have noted that this book's Vic is a distant cousin to Emile (of CRAWL SPACE, my second novel). And yet I felt I was breaking some new ground in the writing of this. See what you think, and sending you happy thoughts for your summer reading.
All best,

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (July 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374109265
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374109264
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.7 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,623,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Film made by Snapdragon Films:

Advice to writers at Poets and Writers:

Soundtrack to LOLA,CALIFORNIA composed by Kevin Salem:

The death of a father and Californian legacy:
"Daughter of California". http://www.themillions.com/2011/06/daughter-of-california.html

On David Foster Wallace for Scott Esposito's Conversational Reading. http://quarterlyconversation.com/david-foster-wallace-a-supposedly-fun-thing-ill-never-do-again

Review at The Daily. http://bit.ly/qZDzkc

Excerpts on Sundance Channel via Em and Lo. http://www.sundancechannel.com/sunfiltered/2011/07/new-summer-reading-lola/

lolacalifornia on Twitter
Lola,California group on Facebook

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Books in whose company Lola, California will feel comfortable and at home: Middlemarch, Heart of Darkness, The Sound and the Fury, Manhattan Transfer, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Blood Meridian, that is, books that changed the perceptions of what long prose fiction can be and how it can be read. There has for a long time been the search for what comes after modernism, all that "post-modernist" work that wasn't. Not really. I think it isn't an exaggeration to say that with Lola, California we can stop thinking about a post-modern literature and begin thinking about a 21st Century literature.

Lola will appeal to readers across the reading spectrum. To the escape reader, it's a riveting story. To the literary scholar it's grist for theory, with its unique narrative tensions, plot lines that seem like sets of July 4th streamers shot off in all directions as if the text is saying, "This is important for the way it ends; trace this arc to where it began because that's important too." And sometimes the other way around.

And there's a pure sensual pleasure here just in the language itself. Semantically rich and syntactically disciplined, Meidav's prose alchemizes elements of memoir, allegory, slipstream, realism, and narrative poetry into fluent, liquid gold, a book to linger over and savor.

A word of caution: Don't start reading if you have something important to do. You'll never get to it.
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Format: Hardcover
Lola, California is the quintessential Northern Californian novel: centered around post-60s Berkeley, rebellious teenagers, new age spas, middle aged hipsters seeking health, fertility, meaning, love. It depicts America the Strange, a Saragasso Sea of all the world's religions and philosophies, bent and fractured into some democratic gnosticism of our very own. This atmosphere is observed with a sharp satiric but indulgent vision, lovingly recreated in vivid detail, recorded in intense slangy elegant prose. This is Meidav's background; she knows it as well as anyone; but she brings to the task a refined and baroque sensibility, as far from the typical California writer as possible, a Victorian poet looking with humor and horror on what the world has become.

Really what she has written is a 300-page prose poem, a mythic journey written in a continually expanding metaphorical language, always searching for the more exact nuance or the more profound correlative. The unforgettable teenage girls at the center of the novel - Lana and Rose - Lola 1 and Lola 2 - have an intense friendship, and like the sisters of Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market" "Golden head by golden head like two pigeons in a nest" the Goblin men are coming to destroy their idyll. Lana's father - the charismatic philosopher Vic Mahler - is like a latter-day Oscar Wilde, brilliant and doomed, knowing "Each man kills the thing he loves."

The amazing thing is how close we feel to these characters as they search for someone to guide them in a world of no fixed principles; and how nonetheless we can see them from a great distance, their carelessness and foolishness and absurdity.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We baby boomers and post baby boomers have been indulged with plenty of stories of late thanks to a host of new books out about growing up in the 70's/80's: fiction, non-fiction, and autobiographical non-fiction about the lifestyles and relationships we had during our significant coming of age moments in NYC. Thanks to Ms. Meidav, we now experience a west coast version replete with hippies, cults, stoners, and Berkeleyese. With the very first sentence we are brought once again into Meidav's intrinsic medley of brain science, eastern philosophy, pop psychology, made-up words and dead-on observation about the frailty of life, love and relationships. It's also a celebration of two young women post 60's who reaped the benefits of contraception, legal abortion and sexual freedom and lived life empowered to make and be responsible for their choices. This is a great book to share in book clubs as it pleases on many levels.
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Format: Hardcover
In this artful, cerebral novel spanning four decades and encompassing the tribal conventions and counterculture movements of the 70's and 80's, the reader is plunged into a cunning world of philosophy and hedonism that is best described as baroque rawness or stark-naked grandiloquence. If these terms appear to be incompatible pairings, the reader will grasp the seeming polarity as axiomatic soon after feasting on Edie Meidav's complex narrative style. A carnal vapor infuses every provocative page of this unorthodox psychological crime thriller.

Contrary to the suggestive cover, title, and product description, this will not appeal to fans of chick lit or genre suspense thrillers. This is more in tune with Martin Amis or Salman Rushdie, with a peppering of TC Boyle and Dan Chaon. Muscular, sweat-producing, and erudite, the satisfaction of reading these pages rests on the reader's consent to capitulate control of predetermined ideas and conceptions and enter into a contract with the author, giving Meidav permission and authority to rule the aesthetic jurisdiction, and to accede to the flow, command, and demand of its prose.

The eponymous title refers to Lana Mahler and her best friend, Rose, who meet as teenagers and form a bond that graduates from symbiotic to alpha/supplicant (Lana as alpha). They call themselves Lola One and Lola Two. Lana's parents are both esteemed academics; her father, Vic, is a neuroscientist cum philosopher of the counterculture variety, and has his own willing supplicants known as "shaggies."

Lana's mother is an ethnologist/feminist who has garnered popular fame. As noted, the novel takes place primarily in California, with an emphasis on the analysis of California lifestyles and attitudes, particularly the free-thinking Berkeley.
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