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( Read E-pub ) Â Too Good to Be True ⚣ When He Was Three, In The Early S, 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 His Life, Even As He Found The Literary Acclaim He Sought After His 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 And The First, Cautious Steps Taken Toward Piecing A Life Back Together It Took A Long Time For Me To Admit I Had Failed, Anastas Begins Broke, His Promising Literary Career Evaporated, He S Hounded By Debt Collectors As He Tries To Repair A Life Ripped Apart By The Spectacular Implosion Of His Marriage, Which Ended When His Pregnant Wife Left Him For Another Man Had It All Been Too Good To Be True Anastas S Fierce Love For His Young Son Forces Him To Confront His Own Childhood, Fraught With Mental Illness And Divorce His Father S Disdain For Money Might Have Been In Line With The S 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 Losing One S Way And Finding It Again, And The Redemptive Power Of Art Most of us open our eyes at some point in our lives 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 desires So says Benjamin Anastas relatively early on in his beautifully written and emotionally affecting memoir, Too Good to Be True Anastas was an author whose first book, An Underachiever s Diary, received some serious acclaim in the late 1990s, and his follow up novel helped him achieve renown, a goal of his for quite some time Yet the pressure of following up these successes with a third novel seemed nearly impossible to handle, and his life began imploding around him.This book is a first person account about living with the constant anxiety of financial need, the near crushing desire to regain your former sense of security and achievement, the powerful love of a father for his young son, and the need to love and be loved Anastas pulls very few punches in accounting for the events in his life he doesn t sugarcoat his actions or reactions, or his role when circumstances went bad.As 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 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 the love he needs to thrive.Too 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 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 own life, I heard Anastas voice and identified with his feelings, his worries, and his thoughts How much of our lives do we write, and how much of them are written for us Benjamin Anastas strives to answer that question, and reading this book, you ll relish how he finds his answers, but also realize that answers often lead to questions Although a little too self deprecating at times, this is a book that packs a punch, one that makes you laugh, makes you think, and makes you feel. 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 her flightiness for the end of their marriage His debts are small enough that the income from a fact checking job can pay them down He is, in his telling, a committed and excellent father and boyfriend The terrible failure seems rhetorical than real.Too 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 life 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 like a long humble brag.
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 legendary editor Maxwell Perkins to no avail What pushes Too Good to Be True over the top and makes it than just a precious lament 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 like to have almost none at all and to be vertiginously in debt Well well WELL I believe I found The Nominee with the gaze of a rigorous formalist in the tradition of B.S Johnson, William Gaddis, Robert Coover, and Alain Robbe Grillet I got that from Wikipedia nice entry google 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 structured And, Trance.was named a finalist for the 2005 National Book Award for Fiction And, lessee..I 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 light is flattering ETA But the Mets, you said in your expansive mode, are a team strangely inclined to fatalism Yup, that s Sorrentino it s a straight quote from Believeniks I mean, unless it s Jonathan Lethem, but I doubt it Altho Lethem lived in Brooklyn too Hmmm The timing doesn t fit for the kid or the not winning the award, tho. 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 literary magazines listed on your CV But then your 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 and leave you you suffer from writer s block What will be your Act II It s obvious, isn t it You write about yourself After all, this is the Facebook Era enough about you, let 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 literary 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 live up to its critical notices and gushing dust jacket blurbs.Anastas recounts, rather impressionistically, bits and pieces of his recent life 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 a k a 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 consequence is that the reader or at 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 great literary prowess, one might manage to forgive its 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.