Too Good to Be True

Photo: Philip Friedman/Studio D

11 of 25
Too Good to Be True
192 pages; New Harvest
Lately, New York writer Benjamin Anastas just can't win. He's so broke he has to scrounge for loose change to feed his 4-year-old son, Primo, when the boy visits; his wife left him for another man when she was pregnant; and his current girlfriend is growing impatient with his bleak financial picture. In Too Good to Be True, Anastas' raw, witty, painfully honest voice turns crushing failure into a surprisingly engrossing read. Life wasn't always this tough for Anastas. By 30, he'd published two well-received novels. "I had arrived," he writes. "At least, it felt like I was arriving." But his third novel was a dud no publisher would touch. Now 41, with no book and no steady job, Anastas barely gets by on freelance writing assignments. Motivated in part by a desire to be a better father, he starts keeping a journal, hoping that by examining his past and present, he'll figure out a way to a better future. Eventually turning his project into a memoir, he reveals his mistakes, humiliations and despair, but also his hope. "So here I am with this notebook," he explains, "trying to keep my promise to the ones I love and find my way back from something close to ruin."
— Emma Morrissey