Log in

No account? Create an account
"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Her Name Was Lola by Russell Hoban 
16th-Mar-2006 11:36 pm
Giving Hoban a third go...

Hoban, Russell. Her Name Was Lola. London: Bloomsbury, 2003.
Summary: Novelist Max Lesser meets Lola, the girl of his dreams, but he can't keep it in the pants and ends up involved with Lula Mae--thereby impregnating them both. Max confesses, and Lola is infuriated, leaving him to study Indian music and religious tradition and inadvertently siccing a curse of forgetfulness on Max. Even so, they end up back together after Max rescues Lola from an overamorous dentist, and they live happily ever after.
Comments: And, yet again, we have an overaged, asshole protagonist...but, thankfully, the women this time around are more than pretty faces (but they're that too, and it's the first thing Hoban lets the reader know about them, irritatingly). Age 39 and age 25 I can live with, however. And, this time around, she leaves HIM; he isn't given the luxury of choice as he is in The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz to leave the pregnant woman high and dry. I also appreciated Max's mind and his literary alter ego Moe, both of whom tell him off on numerous occasions and routinely demonstrate better judgment than Max himself. Max's encounter with Apasmara in the beginning of the novel is deliciously surreal, effectively providing sufficient momentum for the entire narrative, which, unfortunately, lags noticeably in the second half. They layering of fact and fiction between protagonist, protagonist's literary creation, and author Hoban himself is skillfully-done but nothing that hasn't been done before, and better, by other authors. The final message of this novel? Even assholes can get the perfect girl, provided they learn from their mistakes. Seems rather insulting to the hypothetical perfect girl...and it would be totally insufferable if we didn't know that she has the power to make his life utterly miserable and (horror or horrors!) attenuate an already bad case of writer's block.
Notes: hardcover, 1st edition
Rating: 6.5/10 - Anti-feminist as usual, but at least he abundantly acknowledges the extent of his jerkdom. Otherwise, a lucid, easy read despite meta-textual complexities.
17th-Mar-2006 08:02 am (UTC)
did he write ridley walker?
i loved that book...
17th-Mar-2006 11:25 am (UTC)
yeah he did.
17th-Mar-2006 11:33 am (UTC)
With the exception of his children's series and his children's novel, The Mouse and His Child, Lola was my first Hoban novel. There was a lot of little things that made me love this because they are things in my life that I can relate to (like when the talk about singer Fisher-Diskau whom I am devoted to). Also the whole fact that Max writes children's novels that sell and adult novels that don't is Hoban joking at himself since he is famous for his children's books, but with the exception of "Riddley Walker" is basically unknown by the general public for his fourteen novels.

Again, I didn't see this as being anti-feminist, I see this novel as bashing men and their over-stimulated egos. Most of Hoban's women are portratyed as strong-minded and complicated, more so then the men. I loved Lula Mae because she was a knockout beauty, knew it, used it to get what she wants, but I saw a strange sadness in her because she knew that most men just wanted her for her beauty. She might have really loved Max, but knew he didn't love her and so she wasn't going to lay around like a puppy begging to be picked up. And Lola shows her strength in the last lines of the novel.
17th-Mar-2006 08:52 pm (UTC)
Of the three novels I've read thus far, this was the first to give the female characters a fair shake--and it was also the first to underline, again and again, the "unheroic" characteristics of the hero. In The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz, the father just dumps his pregnant girlfriend without explanation when the son arrives, but in Her Name Was Lola, the women dump HIM before he can do anything at all. It's an improvement.

In fact, I don't think he's trying as hard to defend the type of womanizing character that his heroes are as much as time passes. I especially loved the scene where Max's character decides to go "stretch a canvas" instead of cheating on his girlfriend, as Max did. Her Name Was Lola takes great pains to offer multiple points of view, which neither of the other two novels I read by Hoban did at all.
1st-Apr-2006 01:23 pm (UTC)
Review archived.
This page was loaded May 21st 2018, 10:36 am GMT.