GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Lifestyle

October 18, 2012

'Too Good to Be True'

Memoir looks at hitting bottom and climbing out

Benjamin Anastas, a published writer living in New York City, found himself at the bottom of the economic barrel. In addition to being broke, he became a part-time parent in the wake of a failed marriage. It was not unusual for him to scrounge his apartment looking for change to buy yogurt and carrots.

But Anastas, born in Gloucester, found a way to begin to climb out of his spiraling decline and shares his path in his latest memoir, “Too Good to Be True.” A reading takes place here next Thursday, Oct. 25, at the Harbor Room in Gloucester.

“I just found myself at one of those crossroads when nothing was working. I thought about how do I pick my life up again and how did I get there in the first place,” he said in a telephone interview this week.

The book, which contains some Gloucester scenes, is set from the fall of 2010 until the spring of 2011 but it moves back in time to his earliest memory, which literally became its title.

“The failure is real, the voice is raw, the story is haunting,” wrote author Jonathan Franzen about the book.

Anastas, now 43, has already established a literary career. His first book, “An Underachiever’s Diary,” achieved attention as did the second, “The Faithful Narrative of a Pastor’s Disappearance,” which was named a New York Times Notable Book. But in the wake of this success, his life plummeted for myriad reasons.

“I wasn’t paying attention to my career as a writer, and part of what sent me down the spiral is that I spent four years working on a novel that was only published in Europe,” he said. That book, “At the Feet of the Divine,” was published in German.

“Failure is the great counter-story of America,” said Anastas. “There are many success stories but there are more stories of failure.”

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