By Edie Meidav
Picador Books, $17.00, 433 pages
Lola, California is a study in human interaction and just how complicated and dysfunctional it can be. The book opens with Vic Mahler, ’70s philosophy professor with a cult following, sitting on death row for the murder of his wife. His long estranged daughter, Lana, has been living with a new name and hasn’t been in contact with him—or anyone from the past—for years. And Lana’s closest friend from high school, Rose, is searching for a way to help Vic find Lana, and brings father and daughter together again.
“In the never-dark of the prison’s incandescence, Vic considers confines and stumbles. The cell’s walls echo the birth into selfhood.”
Author Edie Meidav writes a complex tale, jumping back and forth through time, showing the reader the Mahler family as they were and how they came to be and where they are now. Vic is a pedantic narcissist philosopher. His wife, Mary, is a detached psychologist. Lana is cold, damaged, and isolated even from her closest friend. And Rose is an appendage to the group, a foster child longing for connection. All of the characters are somewhat unknowable; they’re distant and difficult to pin down. This can make the book difficult to pin down as well as it keeps the reader at arm’s length and indulges in the characters’ solipsism.
Reviewed by Leah Sims