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Showing 1-10 of 69 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 107 reviews
on May 13, 2014
I liked this book. It was very honest. I could relate in many ways. Who hasn't made bad decisions, lied, struggled with the aftermath of their childhood, scrounged for change and hoped for life to finally reveal the secret pathway to their dreams, simple as they may be. The writer doesn't beg for your sympathy or seem bereft of hope. He just tries to make sense of his life which has grown complicated and twisted out of his control. Most of us have certain expectations for our lives but then things happen, people happen, life happens and we're thrown off course. Anastas has written of this journey poetically, philosophically and truthfully.~
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on January 17, 2017
Benjamin Anastas’ memoir Too Good to be True, should probably be required reading for every young person who wants to write and make a living at it. Make a living is the operative term. Anastas appears to spare no little detail in this work, documenting his plunge as a writer, and along with it, the rest of his life.

Of course in such a book which chronicles decline and failure, there is no little amount of self-pitying. This is to be expected; some parts are difficult to read, but at the least the author maintains a voice that is at once true and unsparing. Anastas is also very well aware of how he laid the ground work for his artistic, financial, and perhaps relationship fiascoes.

Most of all, this memoir shows just how dangerous it is to have high and inflexible expectations about writing. In the end, talent may not be enough; work may not be enough; contacts may not be enough. Persistence and fortitude, however, may get you through the disappointments.
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on April 4, 2013
I enjoyed this memoir as I anticipated I would...the purpose of my review here is to call out a problem with the Kindle edition. I noticed early on in my reading that there appeared to be what would become a really annoying editing problem. Someone in the editing of this edition did a global search/replace of the word "off" with "of ". This means that "offered" became "of ered", and "of" and "off" were indistinguishable (both appeared as "of ") apart from the context of the sentence. I have occassionally encountered line-spacing issues with my Kindle editions, but this was a first and it was a drag.

But about the story...I could relate to the author with regard to the impact that early words have as one grows and moves forward in life. And I appreciate the brutal honesty that Mr. Anastas brings to the telling of his story. It can not have been easy to share some of the details, or to have the book finish without a neat, tidy ending. But real is real, and that is what you get with this well-written (if not well-edited)book.
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on November 3, 2012
"Too Good To Be True", a new memoir by Benjamin Anastas, has a continual feeling of Wobegon without the lake. Depressing as his life sometimes seems, I found the book to be largely compelling without feelings of either rancor or empathy toward the author. He is down (on his luck) and out (of money) but not out of a reasonable future.

The book tends to be uneven. It's a rather slow, dull beginning with the best chapters being the last two. They tie things together in a strong, almost tender way. It is here that author Anastas really shines and why "Too Good To Be True" is certainly worth the read.
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on June 9, 2014
Life does not have to be perfect! We are looking for the fairy tale in our lives but sometimes it turns out to be more like a rollercoaster! I guess the message here is to take things as they fell and make do and give it your best shot.
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on May 23, 2013
Having "Too Good to Be True" written on a piece of paper and hung around his neck when he was a child haunts the author.
When the author tries to write a novel he instead comes up with a memoir. In writing a memoir one must be honest and bare one's soul and that Mr. Anastas does. He marries the woman of his dreams but admits to her that he had a fling while they were engaged and things go downhill from there, even though they get married, they divorce. A writer's struggle to write is interesting because writing is so difficult. Anyone who is a fan of memoir will enjoy this one and anyone who has been labeled as a child will sympathize.
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on September 18, 2013
About 99 percent of writers don't make it big on their first try and even if they do, there's no guarantee they will retain the good graces of readers, agents or publishers. Many, like Anastas get stuck, too, with project s that go nowhere, taking them from the possibility of living their dreams of writing for a living to making the choice between finding a job they can tolerate or starving and going deeply into debt just to survive. On top of Anastas' financial woes, his marriage ended and he must now share his son with the man who stole his wife. He has an easy-to-read style and it's hard bot to relate to at least some of his problems. A good read.
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on October 15, 2015
The story wanders through the tribulations of a struggling author whose life is a wreck of his own making. The writing is good but the story goes nowhere,and maybe that's the point; that life is a pointless struggle, and when things work out well it's likely too good to be true.
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on October 29, 2012
I read an excerpt from this book and found it compelling: a writer of some success finds that his life has fallen apart and he is failing. Then, when I sought the book out, I realized that I knew this guy--as an author, anyway. I had read his first novel, An Underachiever's Diary, when it came out. The fact that I remembered it so well after better than a dozen years reminded me that I had liked it. So I was interested to find out more about his story. As Anastas himself describes it, it turns out to be a tale of failures, both his own and of those around him.

In short: Anastas writes a novel which has some modest success and then gets his second novel published by a prestigious house, FSG, where his upward rise continues. This is followed by difficulties in producing a third novel. Along the way, he has a brief affair which he confesses to his fiancé. She decides to marry him anyway, but they are divorced within a year and she is pregnant with his son. In the years after his son's birth, his financial position becomes more and more precarious, to the point where he is heavily in debt and earning nothing.

There is a lot of tragedy here, but the main focus seems to be his near bankruptcy. Some of the most moving passages have to do with how he scrounges change to pay for the rare nights he gets to spend with his son. It also appears to be the hinge of his new relationship. Eliza seems to want to marry and have children with Anastas but is concerned he doesn't have the wherewithal to dig himself out of his hole.

Ultimately, the money situation is more than just a practical problem. It is symbolic of his inability to recover from the damage of his marriage and career, and get back on his feet. As the memoir nears its end, we are given some smatterings of hope that Anastas has turned himself around, but it certainly isn't clear that he's made it through. Perhaps because this is a story still in progress.

In the end, I was glad I read this book. I had trouble with parts of it. I have difficulty with people who seem to be creators of their own problems and then let their problems manipulate them, generally through pseudo-psychoanalysis. On the other hand, I felt very close to Anastas as I read. Not only because I'm familiar with his other work and can see how the mighty have fallen but also because I have writerly pretentions that are similar to Anastas's. Had things been a bit different for me, I might have seen a road similar to his. I like to think I would have treaded more carefully but who can tell? It was interesting for me to see what life can be really like for a writer.
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on May 19, 2013
Mr. Anastas is a fine writer but his story is pathetic. He plays the role of victim though it's apparent he's the catalyst for his problems and has chosen now to make a buck by whining about it. In the end, however, I do wish him luck.
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