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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Parade of Devastating Beauty


Must-Read Novels
Great new novels: hippie California

A Parade of Cures: The Devastating Beauty of Lola, California

‘Lola, California’ By Edie Meidav. 448 pages. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Edie Meidav's Lola, California is titled after the name two girls, Lana and Rose, give themselves. They stole their name from the identity-bending hit by The Kinks (Lana is Lola One, Rose Lola Two). The Lolas shared a thick, impenetrable friendship, and Meidav captures exactly the sweetness of girlhood co-dependency (think Heavenly Creatures, but healthier).

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, where the eucalyptus “smelled like both cat pee and colonialism” and the men “focused on outwitting actuarial odds by their faithfulness to California protocols: ease, cheekbones, the low glycemic index of their diet, fire trail hikes, cardiovascular gestures, wealth, Tuscan vegetables, phytonutrients, heart-benefiting, and cancer-fighting volunteerism, the kind who into their fifties remain manboys, pursuing life-risking activities without ever wiping off that constant smile. If misfortune happens to such men, a hemorrhaging bank account or loss of an actual limb, such men call it process or a learning experience, ready to die before admitting failure, failure bad as a hairweave, a condition practically requiring surrender of the state’s driving license.”

Yes, that sentence is long. Meidav’s prose is writerly: exact yet maximalist, prodigiously lyrical. Together with the novel’s jump-cut structure and length, Meidav asks her readers to slow down. The opposite of a page turner in the best way, the novel prompts us to linger, re-read, flip back, and figure the damned thing out.

But don’t worry: Lola, California is no modernist convolution. Meidav offers more than pretty sentences. This book has plot in spades . . . (to read more, go to the link above)

At the days tick down towards Mahler’s execution, Vic terminally ill, and everyone faces more choice: stay or go? . . . 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, author of A Skeptic's Guide To Writers' Houses

Anne Trubek is the author of A Skeptic's Guide To Writers' Houses.


  1. I read a review for "Lola, California" at the
    AV Club, where it got an A. I ordered it off Amazon and can't wait to read it. My sister thought it looked good too, but she mostly does audiobooks these days, since she's busy. I didn't see it available as such, do you know if it's going to become available in that format? Thanks for any information.

  2. Dear Katie --

    Not sure but thanks for the interest.

    Happy reading.