Would never know No misses the middling iterary novel or even the masterpiece that was never written or never published By definitionI speak from bitter experienceOkay having gotten that off my chest I can say that Too Good To Be True is as compelling an account of My Wifes Affair literary personal and financial failure as you can read short of F Scott Fitzgerald s celebrated essay The Crack Up which author Benjamin Anastas uite deliberately citesAnastas s sins are venal not mortal but he pays the price anyway Writes a novel he doesn t believe in Publishes a book that doesn t meet expectations Sleeps with someone not his fianc Marries fianc anyway with predictable conseuences Falls into serious credit card debt and in scenes that every reviewer has cited is reduced to using Coinstar to process enough spare change to feed his son on visitation daysWhatever his previousiterary failures Anastas is a terrific writer and many of the scenes of his traumatic childhood and adult crises are as merciless as a scalpel If you have any interest in the craft of writing or the memoir genre you will find superlative e Something of a disappointment A memoir of a sort of a once successful author who finds himself entering his 40s divorced broke and adrift I went into it rooting for him but I can t say the story he tells is particularly insightful or compelling Anastas is a talented writer to be sure but there s not much real effort at self reflection or self awareness evidenced in these pages He confesses to a sin of cheating on his girlfriend Dîwana Jan later wife but everything that follows seems to be the result of others inexplicable and it seems to him inexcusable behavior Perhaps but as the book wore on I found myself trusting himess and ess I don t want to dismiss the real anxieties and troubles that he found himself in but he ived to published a book about it and a dash of humor would have helped He traces a central source of his problems to the idea that he ived from his youth onward a ife that was too good to be true which eft him unprepared for rockier times and unaccountable failure but that phrase reeks of a particular kind of condescension that surfaces here and there throughout this book a kind of attitude I might have taken if it had been presented with a ittle self deprecation and a bit of a augh rather than with the utter seriousness on display here When Benjamin Anastas tells us that his memoir is about failure he seems to believe it He flagellates himself for never replicating the success of his first novel He howls at his childish decision to cheat on his wife while on a business trip in Europe He shakes with shame when telling us that he s deep in debt But as Anastas enumerates his sins he simultaneously forwards a counter narrative He continues to work as a professor and magazine writer He comes clean to his
Wife And He Blames and he blames flightiness for the end of their MARRIAGE HIS DEBTS ARE SMALL ENOUGH His debts are small enough The Income From A Fact Checking the income from a fact checking can pay them down He is in his telling a committed and excellent father and boyfriend The terrible failure seems rhetorical than realToo Good To Be True is really about the durability of self delusion Anastas s poverty is one of fancy Brooklyn restaurants and Apple products and adjunct professorships He seems to be angry at himself mostly for struggling to maintain a bourgeois New York ife without accumulating debt His great humiliation the moment in which he finally admits defeat and begins his resurrection comes when he takes a well paying job that he considers beneath his angry intellect If Anastas were self aware this could have been a great book about the emotional and economic unsustainability of a culture in which everyone thinks he should be a star As it is it s a confessional that mostly feels The Curious Cases of Cyriack Skinner Grey like aong humble brag Why can t you give a book no stars Goodreads This doesn t deserve anyI hated this book so much I Itsuka live tweeted my hate reading of it to my friend Lisa I willet the tweets speak for themselvesso I am reading Too Good To Be True Benjaman Anastas and may need you to read and review it I have judgmental opinionsbecause author is not funny Also you cannot write about knowing what it is ike to be really broke and about your iPhoneMacalso my good reads review will include how many times per page I thought Get a job Max so far has been 17I have to go to the coin star with my son to buy coffee and pirates booty it is humiliating NO YOU DON T It s a hate readI mean if you don t have a job why can t you go while kid is at schoolwith custodial parentand how broke can you be if you are still regularly digging up 10 30 in changealso why should we feel bad your wife eft you for successful writer when you cheated first there is a 4 page recap of a FB thread that made him feel bad Bc participants who he didn t even know were competent and viewed spare change as windfall not primary income stream I hate this guy so muchhe is now charging 225 couples therapy sessions his wife is already iving with someone elseSom. Nd the first cautious steps taken toward piecing a ife back together It took a ong time for me to admit I had failed Anastas begins Broke his promising iterary career evaporated he’s hounded by debt collectors as he tries to repair a Live Bait life ripped apart by the spectacular implosion of his marriage which ended when his pregnant wifeeft him for another man Had it all been too good to be true Anastas’s fierce ove for his young so.
Benjamin Anastas î 4 ReadEtimes he is so broke he can t get emonade whis pupusas at the Brooklyn fleahe is too broke to buy his girlfriend a nine NINE carat diamond ringafter he moved to the smallest one bedroom apt he had ever seen he spent 90 on a psychic healer 9 page Fancy Strut letter to ex wife s new partnerhe has 60 crediteft on a visa so he can afford to take a cab his own Northern California: A History and Guide - From Napa to Eureka life turned into a story that I didn t choose except that it was created by his actioninactionoh thank god 170 pages in and he FINALLY got a temp job Like I yelled at him to do for previous 169 pages Reading this I was reminded of twoetters to Sugar featured in Tiny Beautiful Things the one from the young woman who can t move forward because she thinks her student Unbreathed Memories loan debt defines her and the one from the aspiring writer with the staggering sense of entitlement and the MFA from the prestigious school Cheryl Strayed tells the former to stop sniveling make a budget get a job and to remember how fortunate she is she tells theatter to get over herselfI feel kind of hostile towards this book and Mr Anastas and I don t really want to feel that way or write about that But I am not as generous as Sugar And it s just unseemly this memoir The shockingly narrow minded obsession with his debts and his blindness to his sense of entitlement his ess than artful stories about his ex wife The real names of Marina and The Nominee are easy to find with a uick online search as are their responses to this memoir I have a friends who write seriously and want to publish they use all available time to read and write and ALSO hold down 40 hourweek jobs because they have to pay the bills They wouldn t appreciate earning that it is demeaning or embarrassing to be without a book contract or to be penny pinching or to be working class or to take the bus instead of a taxi or to forgo the att s and the 9100 engagement ring and the bed with a headboard or to ive in an affordable city within their means instead of a fashionable Brooklyn neighborhood David Foster Wallace wrote Infinite Jest after a breakup He s presumably no DFW but I wish Anastas had put this material through a crucible and turned it into fiction I read many memoirs but sometimes the combination of self aggrandizing retrospection and bald truth telling is just something I don t need to know about I saw Rachel Cusk s reputedly awful divorce memoir on the shelf at A Sally Lockhart Mystery 2 library today and wisely passed it up Most of us open our eyes at some point in ourives and find ourselves in a place we never would have chosen if we d been paying attention along the way a region of unlikeness all the disorienting because we have found it on our own without anyone else to blame propelled ourselves right into the maw of it by the force of our own desiresSo says Benjamin Anastas relatively early on in his beautifully written and emotionally affecting memoir Too Good To Be True Good to Be True was an author whose first book An Underachiever s Diary received some serious acclaim in the ate 1990s and his follow up novel helped him achieve renown a received some serious acclaim in the ate 1990s and his follow up novel helped him achieve renown a of his for uite some time Yet the pressure of following up these successes with
third novel seemed impossible to handle and his All about Us life began imploding around himThis book is a first person account aboutiving with the constant anxiety of financial need the near crushing desire to regain your former sense of security and achievement the powerful ove of a father for his young son and the need to ove and be Noni Speaks Up loved Anastas pulls very few punches in accounting for the events in hisife he doesn t sugarcoat his actions or reactions or his role when circumstances went badAs he recounts his childhood raised by a hippie father who believed money was the root of all evil and a mother who struggled with mental illness when he was young you can see how these events shaped the man he has become You feel the strength of his desire to keep his marriage going even though he and his wife can barely stand one another you sense his shame and fear about whether or not he Handbags and Gladrags ll ever be able to regain his financial footing or avoid having to take his young son to a Coinstar machine to gather enough cash to pay for food and you understand his hopefulness that he can give his son theove he needs to thriveToo Good to Be True is than a memoir of self discovery it s a tale of understanding how you get to a certain point in your An Egg-cellent Easter! (Barbie) life how much of what has happened to you was truly within your control and where you can go from this point As someone who has struggled with anxiety about the direction of my ownife I heard Anastas voice and identified with his feelings his worries and his thoughtsHow much of our ives do we write and how much of them are written for us Benjamin Anastas strives to answer that uestion and reading this book you l relish how he finds his answers but also realize that answers often ead to uestions Although a ittle too self deprecating at times this is a book that packs a punch one that makes you augh makes you think and makes you feel. N forces him to confront his own childhood fraught with mental illness and divorce His father’s disdain for money might have been in ine with the ’70s zeitgeist but what does it mean when you’re dumping change into a Coinstar machine trying to scrounge enough to buy your son a meal Charged with rage and despair humor and hope this unforgettable book is about osing one’s way and finding it again and the redemptive power of ar. ,A Third Novel Seemed
Suppose that you are a fairly young writer who has attained an enviable degree of success with a couple of published books and some connections with major Richard Nixon: The Life literary magazinesisted on your CV But then your I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo! life starts falling apart You go broke you have an ill considered affair that once confessed causes your pregnant wife to have one of her own andeave you you suffer from writer s block What will be your Act IIIt s obvious isn t it You write about yourself After all this is the Facebook Era enough about you et s talk about me Essentially that s Benjamin Anastas approach except that he manages to secure the benefit of a mainstream publisher rather than Facebook as his iterary forum Granted Anastas prose is usually much better than what one finds in amateur online postings and he manages to edit his story far astutely than do most contributors to social networking websites But what he gives us in Too Good to Be True is a mercifully short 175 page book that doesn t begin to Puppet Master live up to its critical notices and gushing dust jacket blurbsAnastas recounts rather impressionistically bits and pieces of his recentife s troubles his dysfunctional family history and his initial steps toward recovery To his credit he doesn t wallow in self pity and he occasionally manages to amuse but in the end he fails to convey a real sense of affective engagement with his subject aka himself the words are there but a convincing depth of feeling is strangely absent Maybe that s a defensive strategy without which Anastas wouldn t have been able to face his own story In any case the conseuence is that the reader or at Swoon: The Heartthrob Activity Book for Good Color-Inners as Well as Beginners least this one is reduced to the position of a clinical spectator who can t bring himself to care very much about either the author or his screwed up past If Too Good to Be True were a work of greatiterary prowess one might manage to forgive its Janae (Blacktop, lack of emotional power But it isn t so one can t Instead Anastas only demonstrates that a sincere memoir can be true without being good Ioved this book for its wisdom about money about heartbreak about onging for its honesty Anastas s poverty may not run uite so deep as those who are truly suffering in this country but I know many of us will recognize ourselves in his struggles and in the connections he makes to what we earn in childhood A beautiful book Haven t read a book this compelling in a ong time and I read a ot Writers especially will devour it but I think anyone would ove it I bought this on my kindle after I read the favorable review in The New York Times I just had a baby a week ago and went back and forth between staring at my son s face and reading this book was just too compelled to put the book down The writing is beautiful and just excellent the story of the author s failed marriage book down The writing is beautiful and just excellent the story of the author s failed marriage career drives forward with incredible energy just excellent the story of the author s failed marriage career drives forward with incredible energy intelligence and there is so much heart and soul especially around his son and his childhood Really made me want to read from this author I am going to buy his first novel and I am also going to buy TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE in hardcover because it s the kind of book I know I will want to reread Just oved it and can t recommend it highly enough I was definitely exposed to too much Fitzgerald at an early age One of the first things I did when I moved to New York after grad school was visit the Scribner building on 5th Avenue and try to summon the ghosts of Fitzgerald and his egendary editor Maxwell Perkins to no avail What pushes Too Good to Be True over the top and makes it than just a precious ament by a writer who made it much further than most ever will is Mr Anastas s intense and timely writing about money More specifically his writing about what it is Why Diets Make Us Fat like to have almost none at all and to be vertiginously in debt Well well WELL I believe I found The Nomineewith the gaze of a rigorous formalist in the tradition of BS Johnson William Gaddis Robert Coover and Alain Robbe Grillet I got that from Wikipedia nice entrygoogle william gaddis robert coover alain robbe grillet First hit His first published novel Sound on Sound 1995 draws upon innovations pioneered in the work of his father but also contains echoes of many other modernist and postmodernist writers including Robert Coover William Faulkner William Gaddis B S Johnson and Alain Robbe Grillet A rigorously formal book it is structuredAnd Trancewas named a finalist for the 2005 National Book Award for FictionAndesseeI bet this is the picture Soon after that you posed for a publicity photo in my old bedroom You know the one You re standing by the window barefoot In a T shirt and jeans Books everywhere It s a nice picture The ight is flatteringETA But the Mets you said in your expansive mode are a team strangely inclined to fatalism Yup that s Sorrentino it s a straight uote from Believeniks I mean unless it s Jonathan Lethem but I doubt it Altho Lethem ived in Brooklyn too Hmmm The timing doesn t fit for the kid or the not winning the award tho Here s the thing about Spanish Dagger (China Bayles, literary failure if it s real we. When he was three in the early 1970s Benjamin Anastas found himself in his mother’s fringe therapy group in Massachusetts a sign around his neck Too Good to Be True The phrase haunted him through hisife even as he found the iterary acclaim he sought after his 1999 novel An Underachiever’s Diary had made the smart set take notice Too Good to Be True is his deeply moving memoir of fathers and sons crushing debt and infidelity