Howard Buten

When I Was Five I Killed Myself

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“[A] graceful and brilliant novel . . . leads the reader on a journey through childhood autism that proves enlightening as well as fascinating.” —ForeWord Magazine
Burton Rembrandt has the sort of perspective on life that is almost impossible for adults to understand: the perspective of an eight-year-old. And to Burt, his parents and teachers seem to be speaking a language he cannot understand. This is Burt’s story as written in pencil on the walls of the Quiet Room in the Children’s Trust Residence Center, where he lands after expressing his ardent feelings for a classmate. It begins:
When I was five I killed myself . . .
In this rediscovered modern classic from “one of France’s best-loved contemporary writers,” Howard Buten renders with astounding insight and wry language the tale of a troubled—or perhaps just perfectly normal—young boy testing the boundaries of love and life (Time).
“Buten uses his wit like a whip to get at the heart of this boy’s own story . . . bringing some shock and some power to that delicate line between youth and the rest of the world.” —The Austin Chronicle
“This psychologically intense tale moves quickly, and the difficult task of creating a child’s voice with authenticity and depth proves Buten a gifted stylist and storyteller . . . [an] imaginative and provocative book.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Certainly Buten offers some insight into a troubled child’s mind.” —The New York Times Book Review
This book is currently unavailable
151 printed pages
Original publication


    Priscila Talaverashared an impressionlast year
    👍Worth reading
    🔮Hidden Depths

    Set in some point of the 60s (historic marker such as the Air Raid Drills in public schools) in Detroit, Burton Rembrandt shares with us the story of how he got to the Children's Trust Residence Center (CTRC). Along the whole storytelling we are teased with the idea of Burt having gravely hurt a girl named Jessica, and while is worrisome, sometimes thinsgs aren't wht they seem to be. Burt tells this stoery through the scriptures in the walls of the Quiet Room in the CTRC, transcripts of his file that negligently his doctor lets him have. What is so catchy about this book is the "authenticity" of Burt's voice. We do perceive him as an eight-year-old kid that get words from his parents, that has doubts and fears provoked by grown-ups around him. Lovely read, not what you'd call a "beautiful story", but very well written.

    Jessica Garcíashared an impression5 months ago
    🙈Lost On Me


    Priscila Talaverahas quotedlast year
    (A scandal! No one would publish my novel! What did they mean, it had to be typed?)

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