Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda: Pretty Little Mistakes

plm_1_-166x249.jpgIt’s graduation time, the season of opportunity! And, no doubt, of royally screwing up, too. Who hasn’t thought: why couldn’t I just go back, redo a couple things, skip that one little mishap entirely? Actionable hindsight is the leitmotif of PRETTY LITTLE MISTAKES (HarperCollins), a grown-up ‘Do Over’ novel by Heather McElhatton (rhymes with ‘tackle Latin’). A frequent contributor to NPR’s This American Life, McElhatton came up with the idea after burning six years and mountains of cash on an unpublished novel, graduate school, and a series of romantic false-starts. (One suitor, a doorman from her study abroad program, flew from Italy to propose. She bought him a Vespa instead; he accepted, buzzing away in the general direction, she thinks, of Arizona.) She started writing, plotting out a matrix of wild what-ifs on a 10’x10’ scrap of linoleum dragged from her Minneapolis attic. The resulting 500-pager, an NC-17 Choose-Your-Own-Adventure, begins like so: “Laughter and fistfights. Lasagna thrown on the cafeteria floor, books burning in the garbage cans…All the janitors are getting high…the vending machines are empty. It’s the last day of high school.” Continue reading “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda: Pretty Little Mistakes”