Sunday, June 16, 2013

Benjamin Anastas

Broke, his promising literary career evaporated, Benjamin Anastas is 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. Such is the story Benjamin Anastas recounts in his 2012 memoir, Too Good to Be True.

From the author's Q & A with Kathy Sweeney for the Observer:

Your first novel was about failure, and your new book is a memoir about having and losing it all. Can failure enrich people?

I think it can, in that it burns away all of your illusions. There is a sense in which failure is necessary because so much of the what the world says to us is that you must succeed, you must acquire, you must have your house and your kids and your cars, and your professional achievement. But I think that what failure says is that there are other things to care about.

There has been an increase in failure memoirs written by men in recent years (Toby Young, David Shields, David Goodwillie, Greg Baxter). Why is this?

This is probably changing, but one of your responsibilities as a man – and it's instilled in all of us from an early age – is that you go out into the world to achieve and provide. Granted I had different models with my own family since my father was such a counterculture type, but it was still instilled in me that I was to go out into the world and win. So when you can't and you fail, it becomes this great burden. Something of your manhood has been reduced. I did feel it quite acutely when my son was very young and I was out of work, and I would pick him up from daycare and we'd go to the park and the only people there were women, there were no dads. I felt I was suspect in the eyes of the women. In three years no stranger...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue