An Underachiever's Diary: A Novel by Benjamin Anastas

By Benjamin Anastas

Meet William, a religious underachiever. He enters lifestyles because the firstborn of exact dual boys. it's the final time he'll beat his overachieving brother Clive, or someone else for that subject, at whatever.

This is William's manifesto for the underachiever. it's the chronicle of a life of failure--part diary and half instruction manual for self-defeat. instantly corrosively humorous and unusually smooth, An Underachiever's Diary is a vintage story of perverse perseverance.

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40–69, Arthur Riss, Race, Slavery, and Literature in Nineteenth–Century America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), esp. chapter 4, ‘A is for Anything’. 31 Arac, The Politics of The Scarlet Letter, 258. 32 Ibid. 416. 33 Bercovitch, The Office of The Scarlet Letter, xiv. 34 Whether one reads the ending as disciplinary or not, the fact is that we, like Hester, adopt the scarlet letter in all of its interpretative, political, historical, and aesthetic dimensions. The narrative practices and the various characters of The Scarlet Letter have taught us how to do this, and we have done so ‘of [our] own free will’.

Its front is ornamented with a portico of half a dozen wooden pillars, supporting a balcony, beneath which a flight of wide granite steps descends towards the street. Over the entrance hovers an enormous specimen of the American eagle, with outspread wings, a shield before her breast, and, if I recollect aright, a bunch of intermingled thunderbolts and barbed arrows in each claw. With the customary infirmity of temper that characterizes this unhappy fowl, she appears, by the fierceness of her beak and eye and the general truculency of her attitude, to threaten mischief to the inoffensive community; and especially to warn all citizens, careful of their safety, against intruding on the premises which she overshadows with her wings.

So has it been in my case. I felt it almost as a destiny to make Salem my home; so that the mould of features and cast of character which had all along been familiar here—ever, as one representative of the race lay down in his grave, another assuming, as it were, his sentry-march along the Main Street— might still in my little day be seen and recognized in the old town. Nevertheless, this very sentiment is an evidence that the connection, which has become an unhealthy one, should at last be severed.

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