Monday, November 14, 2011

"How the Mistakes Were Made"

Tyler McMahon received his MFA in fiction from Boise State University. His stories have appeared in Threepenny Review, Sycamore Review, and Surfer’s Journal, among others, and he has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He is a professor of fiction at Hawaii Pacific University.

McMahon applied the Page 69 Test to How the Mistakes Were Made, his debut novel, and reported the following:
My heart sank a little as I flipped to page 69 of How the Mistakes Were Made. It’s literally four lines long—the end of a chapter, possibly the shortest page in the book. But as I reread those sentences, I came to realize that they did, in fact, represent a pivotal moment. The novel is about a fictional punk rock band called The Mistakes. It’s narrated by Laura Loss, the female drummer who will one day be blamed for the group’s destruction. The other two members are Nathan, the hardworking bassist and songsmith, and Sean, the lead guitarist who suffers from a rare condition known as synesthesia which allows him to experience music as color. Page 69 closes the evening of their first show together—in which they discover a chemistry nobody expected. It’s the night that plants the seeds of their musical success. But more specifically, page 69 ends the book’s first sex scene, between Laura and Sean. This late-night indiscretion will, in a sense, lead to the band’s unraveling. In those final sentences, Laura is contemplating Sean’s talent as well his condition, trying to imagine what it would be like to possess either.

So in spite of the brevity, all the key elements of the novel—a bit of envy, some ill-advised sex, the tension between outward success and inner turmoil—are all present in those four short sentences on page 69.
View the trailer for How the Mistakes Were Made, and learn more about the book and author at Tyler McMahon's website.

My Book, The Movie: How the Mistakes Were Made.

Writers Read: Tyler McMahon.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue