Consider this sentence from Lola, California: "Confused, unable to practice her contrarian religion, seeking a tribe, Lana will therefore bed odd men: the underwear model whose career was sidelined when a car accident fractured his knee so that some strange bone sticks out like a knob from the middle of his shin, her bedmate before the bisexual temp but after the limo driver, before the famous bachelor Italian film director but after the millionaire with his steam bath and walnuts, only simultaneous with the hiphop boy who assists the fading disco queen, right before the handlebar-mustached plastic surgeon who claims to have invented liposuction."
Lola is like that throughout. Populated with characters stricken with alien afflictions, lumpy emotional growths you go out of your way not to gawk at, making them all the more obvious. Sinuous, silky prose. A sense of time sensing that time doesn't matter and simultaneously meaning everything. There's a traditional story in here, with a beginning, a middle, and an end, but trace its thread at your peril, for in the Lola universe time expands and collapses and loops back on itself like some kind of abstract tatted lace newly invented. In Lola it's not the unwinding of the narrative that matters so much as the way memory winds narrative up in the first place.
There's murder in here and rape and madness and theft and deception beyond the pale. You'll find a trace of Alice Munro and more than a little Denis Johnson. But newly made, altogether fresh. And Walt Whitman. And Jesus, of all people.
There is not one single construction or trope in this novel that stands for or means only one thing. Everything is multiplicitous. Even the title, at first looking like a place name (and it is, just one that exists only in imagination and as an ethereal construct at that), is also a two-item list, the list itself suggesting a long line of members. The title could just as easily have been: Lola, California, Family, Madness, Celebrity...., with its trailing ellipsis fading off infinitely, growing softer and ever more and more beyond reach.
But above all is the language, a special diction one suspects Meidav invented for this one single purpose. Other reviewers have noted that Meidav's style took them some time to get used to. But in my view, it's not a matter of getting used to it, it's a question of letting it in. After about 40 pages I had to set the book aside for a few hours, so out of my comfort zone did it take me. But when I came back and reread those 40 pages, I couldn't for the life of me find what had so disconcerted me. I had caught up to this altogether poetic narrative form and together we raced to the end.
Finally, Lola poses its own overwhelming question, pervading every subtext: Does the stubble appearing on the cheek as the light of dawn exposes what was heretofore in the dark, does that stubble invalidate the sensuality of the all-night dance? Sly author that she is and respecting her readers, Meidav doesn't give us her answer, for doing so would pour sand into the gears of her "frictionless duplicity" and ruin everything.
Causes Edie Meidav Supports
Heifer International, Kiva, 826 Valencia