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Her Name was Lola

by Russell Hoban

Lola Bessington is that rare thing, an upper class intellectual, and beautiful to boot. When Max meets her at the Coliseum shop he blurts, "This is it…this is my destiny woman." But can Max accept his destiny and commit to one woman when the likes of Lula Mae Flowers are tempting him with an irresistible going away view? The answer is, of course, no, and Lola revenges his betrayal with the ultimate punishment - she wipes away all memory of herself from his mind.

Max is a Jewish novelist who earns his bread and butter from writing children's stories - sounds familiar? In this Russian doll of a novel, Max not only has a running dialogue with his mind but has to justify his actions to the protagonist of his novel-in-progress, a character called Moe. In a passage redolent of the best Woody Allen, Moe assumes the moral highground and objects to the path that Max plans for him.

As always, Russell Hoban treats us to a story rich with the connections and wanderings of an eclectic mind. This time Buddhist philosophy and Indian sacred music meet the Old Testament in a tale of love and betrayal that explores memory and the creative process. While not as powerful as Riddley Walker or as tender as Turtle Diary, Her Name was Lola is funny, clever and imaginative and, like many of Hoban's novels, pushes the bounds of what is probable to make us aware of the possibility of other dimensions to the humdrum of our existence.

Read our interview with Russell Hoban.


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