For the second time in his career, Benjamin Anastas has achieved the kind of mainstream literary success that has never come into view for his father. In one of the many heavyweight blurbs the book has received, Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket) writes that the author of “Too Good to Be True” “has taken disheartening failure and turned it into searing, soaring success.”
Peter Anastas says he’s been asked a lot lately whether some part of him might be faintly envious. Not in the least, he replies. Having studied the Beats and the Black Mountain writers, he’s always considered himself an “underground” author. Just as he wouldn’t dream of begrudging his other son, Jonathan’s, lucrative career as a Los Angeles marketing executive, or his daughter Rhea’s PhD in art history, he is thrilled for Ben’s literary achievements.
“What excites me is how well he writes,” he says. “That’s a great feeling.”
In some ways his father is “too generous,” says Ben Anastas. “The last time I saw him, he said, ‘You’re lucky your father isn’t a big important writer. Wouldn’t that be awful if, say, your dad was Martin Amis?’
“I said, ‘Dad, sure, I guess that’s true.’ But walking around Gloucester, he’s certainly a well-known writer. Which is where I see him.”
James Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com.