A wonderful, overlooked novel gets a new life

Benjamin Anastas’s debut, An Underachiever’s Diary, may have been the funniest, most underappreciated book of the 1990s. And that makes

Benjamin Anastas’s debut, An Underachiever’s Diary, may have been the funniest, most underappreciated book of the 1990s. And that makes this new Random House reprint most welcome.

The underachiever in question is William, a firstborn twin who manages to be the second-best at everything, and a weak light next to the triumphant luminescence of his perfect brother. William’s voice is sharp and hilariously scathing; he comes off like a latter-day Holden Caulfield. But his riffs and observations add up to a surprisingly tender narrative — a coming-of-age story that’s well worth retelling.

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