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Titre : An Underachiever's Diary
Éditeur : The Dial Press
Date d'édition : 1998
Reliure : Hardcover
Etat du livre : Fine
Etat de la jaquette : Fine
Signé : Signed by Author
Edition : 1st Edition.
First Edition (first printing). The debut novel by this Brooklyn author, a "hymn to the imperfect." Fine/Fine. Signed by Anastas on the title page. N° de réf. du libraire 70021
Synopsis : This is the diary of William, a devout underachiever. He lives by the following principles:
1. Alone in an age of increasing competition and diminished possibilities, the underachiever, when faced with doing battle, will forfeit rather than draw blood in the modern arena. He is powerless, and deliberately weak.
2. The underachiever is misanthropic by default. He will use negativity as his greatest weapon, and reserve the right to criticize all that is exalted in both secular and religious society. He lives at a calculated distance from the mainstream, longing secretly to be included, while, at the same time, voicing his contempt for those who play by the rules, that is, achievers of the garden variety, and especially his nemesis, the overachiever.
3. Rather than saying "Yes, yes" to life, the underachiever will say "No, thank you." If pressed, he will turn belligerent.
4. Underachievers are not to be confused with younger, slower brothers of southern presidents, like Billy Carter and Roger Clinton. These gentlemen do the best with whatever genetic leftovers they've been given, while the underachiever is entrusted with a master key to opportunity's home office, and misplaces it.
5. If the underachiever were a mixed drink, he would be a dry martini, one part obscurity (vermouth), three parts unhappiness (gin).
--from Underachieving: A Theory
(William's college term paper)
With his debut novel, An Underachiever's Diary, Benjamin Anastas has written a hymn to the imperfect and created a definitive antihero for the 90s.
Critique: Benjamin Anastas's filigreed novella is grounded in a very slim conceit. Of two brothers born into a trendy Cambridge, Massachusetts, household, one twin is set for success, the other for chronic failure. Although ill-fated William actually beat Clive into the world by seven minutes, it's straight downhill from there. The first chapter is filled with hilarious scenes of equal opportunity gone wrong, our narrator balancing each of Clive's triumphs with his own pratfalls. Even their hair is woefully unequal. At three the younger sports a Beatles mop par excellence, while William is the eternal victim: "My mother, no artist with the scissors, had run into some trouble with a cowlick on my top, and I looked more like a lesbian, or David Bowie in his glitter years."
Unfortunately, as the boys hit puberty and William exiles himself to boarding school ("the Boys' Prison"), the book goes awry. The underachiever's later misadventures are no less acutely rendered, but with his foil at more of a distance, William's sorrows and sarcasms lose some of their strength. Despite its brevity, An Underachiever's Diary should not be read in one sitting but savored slowly (or even dipped into in very small doses) for its balanced prose and arch self-deprecation.
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