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An underachiever's diary
Benjamin Anastas
Adult Fiction ANASTAS

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From Publishers' Weekly:

"Please do not confuse this diary with a memoir written for a therapeutic purpose," urges William, the narrator of this earnest, tender, achingly autobiographical first novel that reads like a manifesto for Generation Xers. An identical twin born in the mid-1960s to politically liberal parents in Cambridge, Mass., he sets out to define himself through a chronicle of his young life and by everything that his shining-example, more conventional brother is not: an "utter failure," a "screw-up"; in short, an underachiever. Where his brother, Clive, excels (in academics, in making bright friends and winning the heart of the celestial girl next-door and in getting into Harvard), William becomes infatuated with a kind of grotesque failure‘attracting an alcoholic girlfriend, choosing a third-rate college, joining a San Francisco cult. He is the loser son every mother fears having, and he's proud of the ignoble distinction. In carefully and formally constructed, exquisitely cadenced prose, Anastas succeeds in capturing an adolescent's naïveté, self-absorption and instinct for melodrama‘and in filtering it all through a fierce intelligence. Cultural signifiers offering a clue to the influences on the narrator are plentiful: William Faulkner, TV shows like A Family Affair, classical authors and St. Augustine. Though William scoffs at being the representative of his maligned generation ("I hear rumors that my condition is widespread"), there are just the right amounts of candor, wit, puerile humor and perverse irreverence in Anastas's work to succeed at that. (Mar.) FYI: Anastas has won both Story's College Fiction Competition and GQ's Frederick Exley Fiction Prize. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Identical twins Clive and William (the underachiever of the title) were born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1965 to suburban nudist-vegetarian parents who had toured Mexico "in search of armed insurrectionists and returned with the perfect dining-room set." Ability was distributed evenly between them, but the uses they made of it were utterly dissimilar. Clive has enjoyed a life filled with friends and success, while William's every choice and action has ensured mediocrity. He endures illness (eczema, mumps), humiliating accidents, abominable choices of secondary school and college, an alcoholic girlfriend who regularly forgets his name, a succession of dead-end service-sector jobs, and a stay in a San Francisco cult. There is real resonance in William, determined to make the least of his considerable gifts, and this witty and appealing debut "diary" should find readers in both public and academic libraries.‘Judith Kicinski, Sarah Lawrence Coll. Lib., Bronxville, N.Y. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Age: 30s

Age: 30s

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