How the Mistakes Were Made

Tyler McMahon. St. Martin’s Griffin, $14.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-312-65854-0
In McMahon’s debut novel, punk rock refugee Laura Loss narrates the whirlwind rise and fall of the Mistakes, a Seattle band that emerged from the early ’90s grunge scene and briefly became rock and roll legends. Settled in Seattle after spending her teen years on the road with her brother’s hardcore band, Laura wryly ponders her limited options, since “jamming in basements and storage lockers was cool when you’re a kid but pathetic in adulthood.” When Sean and Nathan, a misfit duo from Montana, show up at her door, the three musicians gel with a do-it-yourself chemistry, and their unlikely ascent to stardom begins. Though the narrative is engaging, there are several off-notes. Too much attention is given to Sean’s synaesthesia (a neurological condition that causes him to see his music as colors), and the romance between Laura and Sean never becomes credible enough to make the ensuing love triangle a genuine source of tension. However, McMahon conveys the exhilaration and vitality of an outsiders’ music scene and successfully evokes a time and place where kids who followed their own guitar-powered soundtracks were briefly able to crank up the volume for the world to hear. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/15/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4299-8479-9
Hardcover - 342 pages - 978-1-250-00091-0
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