Are there parts of your childhood that you would like to do-over' That clumsy first kiss, the less-than-perfect prom date, forgetting to study for the S.A.T.s, the entire year leading up to them' It’s a sad fact of adulthood that we can’t return to the past to fix the consequences of a youth misspent. That is, unless you are Robin Hemley.
Hemley’s childhood made a wedgie of his memory, leaving him sore and embarrassed for over forty years. He was the most pitiful kindergartner, the least spirited summer camper and dateless for prom. In fact, there’s nary an event from his youth that couldn’t use improvement. If only he could do them all over a few decades later, with an adult’s wisdom, perspective and giant-like height.
In the spirit of cult film classics like Billy Madison and Wet Hot American Summer, in Do-Over! Hemley reencounters papier-mache, revisits his childhood home and finally attends the prom — bringing readers the thrill of recapturing a misspent youth and discovering what’s most important: simple pleasures, second chances and the forgotten joys of recess.
Robin Hemley is the winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship for his work on Do-Over!. He has published seven books, and his stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, New York Magazine, Chicago Tribune and many literary magazines and anthologies. Robin received his MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop; he currently directs the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa and lives in Iowa City, IA.
Robin Hemley’s 10 Rules for a Successful Do-Over:
It’s unwise to attempt certain types of do-overs, such as failed marriages and circumcisions.
Attempting a do-over will not actually turn back the hands of time. You are not allowed to ask actual 16-year-olds to the prom, OK'
There will be moments during your do-overs when you need to remember your age, such as in art class when all your classmates’ checkerboards look nicer than yours, suppress the urge to tell them how much more money you make than them.
Bone up on your multiplication tables and quadratic equations. There WILL be tests.
When playing “Zombie Death Ray” at recess, don’t worry if the rules are more fluid than you’re used to at work (where “Zombie Death Ray” goes by the name of “Office Politics”). You don’t make the rules here. A boy named Glen makes them up as he goes along.
If you do-over calling someone you haven’t seen in 30 years, you might want to take things slow. The subtitle of this book is not, “How to be a Successful Stalker.”
If you fail a do-over, then that’s too bad. You really ARE a loser!
Sorry. Let me do-over number 7.
You don’t want to be caught in a perpetual cycle of do-overs for all eternity, the point isn’t to succeed necessarily. It’s to gain perspective.
Learn to let go.
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