Amie Barodale

  • culture November 21, 2012

    Too Good to Be True by Benjamin Anastas

    In Benjamin Anastas's Too Good to Be True—a memoir that should be required reading for all creative writing MFA candidates and, come to think of it, anybody who is engaged to be married—the author tells the story of his failure. The word is used by Anastas himself, and while I wouldn't use it to describe his work, it does capture the raw honesty that powers this book and renders it a success.

    At the end of an interview with Jonathan Rosen conducted in 1994, V.S. Naipual says, "Do you think I've wasted a bit of myself talking to you?" Rosen hedges, saying that’s not how he’d put it. Naipaul says, “You’ll cherish it?” It is nasty and ungracious. It is also true. And this—the willingness to say something awful and true—is the reason why I want to hear Naipaul describe the world. He is more honest than most of us dare to be.

    In Benjamin Anastas’s Too Good to Be True—a memoir that should be required reading for all creative writing MFA candidates and, come to think of it, anybody who