Lola Bensky

Lola Bensky

by Lily Brett
     
 

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Lola Bensky is a nineteen-year-old rock journalist who irons her hair straight and asks a lot of questions. A high-school dropout, she's not sure how she got the job – but she's been sent by her Australian newspaper right to the heart of the London music scene at the most exciting time in music history: 1967.

Lola spends her days planning diets and

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Overview


Lola Bensky is a nineteen-year-old rock journalist who irons her hair straight and asks a lot of questions. A high-school dropout, she's not sure how she got the job – but she's been sent by her Australian newspaper right to the heart of the London music scene at the most exciting time in music history: 1967.

Lola spends her days planning diets and interviewing rock stars. In London, Mick Jagger makes her a cup of tea, Jimi Hendrix (possibly) propositions her and Cher borrows her false eyelashes. At the Monterey International Pop Festival, Lola props up Brian Jones and talks to Janis Joplin about sex. In Los Angeles, she discusses being overweight with Mama Cass and tries to pluck up the courage to ask Cher to return those false eyelashes.

Lola has an irrepressible curiosity, but she begins to wonder whether the questions she asks these extraordinary young musicians are really a substitute for questions about her parents' calamitous past that can't be asked or answered. As Lola moves on through marriage, motherhood, psychoanalysis and a close relationship with an unexpected pair of detectives, she discovers the question of what it means to be human is the hardest one for anyone—including herself—to answer.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Brett’s latest novel (following 2006’s You Gotta Have Balls) is a poignant and autobiographical rumination on the inner life of an Australian music journalist named Lola Bensky. Beginning her career in 1967 when she’s 19 years old, she interviews emerging talent like Jimi Hendrix, Mick Jagger, and Jim Morrison while fixating on being overweight and embarking on a barrage of diets. Lola feels ashamed of her excess pounds because parents Renia and Edek suffered from malnutrition in a German concentration camp during WWII. Although Lola’s career is taking off, she feels like a disappointment to her family, having never graduated from high school; and despite Renia’s intervention, Lola remains heavy. Her survivor’s guilt increases as she grows older, leading to panic attacks when she’s in her 30s. Lola peers into other people’s lives as she hides behind her role as a writer, “seeing how their habits and histories came together to make them who they were.” Brett creates a fascinating portrait of a woman searching for meaning and connections stolen from her family. Agent: Anne Edelstein, Anne Edelstein Literary Agency. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

"Based on the author's own experiences as a rock journalist in the '60s, this trippy novel has bold-faced names (Jimi! Cher! Mick!) and adventures galore." —People Magazine

" In this semiautobiographical novel, best-selling Australian author Brett (Uncomfortably Close; Too Many Men) has crafted an appealing tribute to 1960s pop culture, with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Cher, Mick Jagger, and others making cameo appearances. Brett also brilliantly evokes the heartbreaking emotional prison occupied by so many Holocaust survivors and their troubled children. This gorgeous and wise novel is sure to please readers of Jewish fiction, music fans, and anyone interested in the craft of writing." — Library Journal

"Based on Australian author Brett’s own experiences as a rock journalist and daughter of Holocaust survivors, this is an inside look at an exciting time in rock ’n’ roll history and it’s great fun to eavesdrop on Lola’s conversations with the iconic figures." —Booklist

“Lily Brett evokes one of rock’n’roll’s greatest eras—the 60s— in her new novel… a poignant and autobiographical rumination on the inner life of an Australian music journalist named Lola Bensky… Brett creates a fascinating portrait of a woman searching for meaning and connections stolen from her family.” —Publishers Weekly

"German-born, Australia-raised, New York resident Brett (You Gotta Have Balls, 2006, etc.) invests some of her own multicultural back story in her eponymous protagonist, an innocent abroad in a rock-’n’-roll world…A curious mix of wide-eyed ingenuousness and death-haunted anxiety… so sweet-natured it’s impossible not to like."—Kirkus

Library Journal
Lola, a 19-year-old Australian rock music journalist, leads a dazzlingly glamorous life. She spends her days interviewing and hobnobbing with the hottest musicians of 1967, backstage, in their living rooms, and at concerts like the famous Monterey International Pop Festival. But beneath the surface, Lola struggles with deep-seated self-doubt and an eating disorder rooted in the psychological legacy of her parents' experience as Jewish Auschwitz survivors. Via a series of temporal shifts, Brett limns Lola's metamorphosis from a chubby, insecure teenage reporter to a charmingly imperfect wife, mother, and acclaimed novelist who finally learns to believe in happiness. VERDICT In this semiautobiographical novel, best-selling Australian author Brett (Uncomfortably Close; Too Many Men) has crafted an appealing tribute to 1960s pop culture, with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Cher, Mick Jagger, and others making cameo appearances. Brett also brilliantly evokes the heartbreaking emotional prison occupied by so many Holocaust survivors and their troubled children. This gorgeous and wise novel is sure to please readers of Jewish fiction, music fans, and anyone interested in the craft of writing.—Kelsy Peterson, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib, Overland Park, KS
Kirkus Reviews
German-born, Australia-raised, New York resident Brett (You Gotta Have Balls, 2006, etc.) invests some of her own multicultural back story in her eponymous protagonist, an innocent abroad in a rock-'n'-roll world. When we first meet Lola, she's interviewing rising guitar hero Jimi Hendrix for Rock-Out, the Australian magazine that has sent this 19-year-old daughter of Holocaust survivors to London. While most young women would be swooning, Lola is telling Mick Jagger about her mother's ordeal at Auschwitz or--when she crosses the Atlantic to New York--admitting to an arrogant, very stoned Jim Morrison that she doesn't like him. Though she's fat and constantly promising herself she will diet, Lola is too preoccupied by her fraught relationship with her traumatized parents to be intimidated by celebrities. As the story moves by fits and starts through the decades, she marries and then leaves a Former Rock Star (unnamed) for a painter and continues asking naïve but oddly effective questions of the people she interviews. Brett's portraits of Lola's subjects contain nothing that isn't already familiar to anyone who has read more than two books on the 1960s music scene, and her prose is so un-nuanced and uninflected that the entire novel sounds as if it was written by a 19-year-old. Yet palpable sincerity and a good heart have the same cumulative impact in the narrative as they do in Lola's interviews. Always utterly herself, she elicits genuine emotions from the stars she encounters (controlling Sonny Bono and pretentious Pete Townshend being the notable exceptions.) Having observed Lola's crippling panic attacks and her devastation over her mother's death, readers will be relieved to see her transformation. A curious mix of wide-eyed ingenuousness and death-haunted anxiety, and certainly no stylistic masterpiece, but so sweet-natured it's impossible not to like.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781593765231
Publisher:
Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
08/27/2013
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author


Lily Brett was born in Germany and moved to Melbourne with her parents in 1948. She is one of Australia's most loved, prolific and successful authors. She has published six works of fiction, seven books of poetry, and three essay collections to much critical acclaim around the world. Lily Brett is married to the Australian painter David Rankin. They have three children and live in New York.

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