Having been an early booster of his, I found myself wondering every so often during the past several years: What’s up with Ben Anastas? His novels, An Underachiever’s Diary and The Faithful Narrative of a Pastor’s Disappearance, had been published in 1998 and 2001. After that, nothing; at least nothing I’d seen. The answer to my question came a couple of months ago, with the arrival of Too Good to Be True, Anastas’s memoir of what sexual straying, debt, and a run of bad literary luck did to a very promising early career. What might have been a piece of niche self-pity – the boo-hoo travails of another belletristic, still-young Brooklynite – turns out to be a remarkably clear-eyed search for the deeper and more distant causes of a bad patch that extended itself much too far. The book is taut, sad, and soulful.
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