Hoban, Russell. Her Name Was Lola. New York: Arcade Publishing, 2003.
The first thing one needs to know about Her Name Was Lola is that it’s a short book with even shorter chapters. It’s a quick read – maybe even a lazy Sunday-in-one-sitting kind of read.
November, 2001. Max has writer’s block. As described in the first chapter, “Max writes novels that don’t sell, children’s picture books that do.” Only, the picture books aren’t getting written either. Instead, he is wandering around London, talking to himself and dealing with a dwarf demon called Apasmara on his back. Apasmara out of Hindu mythology and symbolizes Forgetfulness, Heedlessness, Selfishness, Ignorance, and Materialism. He was sent to make Max forget about Lola Bessington.
Flashback to December 1996. Max meets Lola and falls in love. She falls back. A few months later Max meets Lula and falls in love. She too falls back. Two women with similar names. One man with “blighter’s rock.” One big problem. Hoban always announces the date at the beginning of each chapter. To orientate the reader or mark the passage of time, I don’t know. It’s not a spoiler to say Max loses both women, but I think it is a spoiler when I say his fictional character is the one who gets it right. Leave to Max to create a character who is more virtuous than himself.
Reason read: Hoban’s birth month is February. Read Her Name Was Lola in his honor.
the line I liked the best, “People are composed of memories, losses, longings and regrets” (p 28).
Confessional: reading the lyrics to Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana (At the Copa)” took me right back to the late 70s when I was all of 9-10 years old. A girlfriend and I we loved the song to much we wanted to act out the lyrics – especially the “who shot who?” and the “yellow feathers in her hair” parts.
Author fact: Many people think Her Name Was Lola is autobiographical. If Hoban knows an imaginary dwarf named Apasmara then okay. That is awesome.
Book trivia: This is so short it can be read in one day.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter “Russell Hoban: Too Good To Miss” (p). This is the penultimate Hoban book on my list. One more and I will be done with the chapter.