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When I Was Five I Killed Myself. Paperback – 30 Nov 2002


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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Reclam Philipp Jun. (30 Nov. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3150091004
  • ISBN-13: 978-3150091005
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 1.4 x 14.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 250,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Buten captures the language of childhood and it is this craft that lends the book its potency. (The Times)

It is a rare and brilliant evocation of a child's mindset, which articulates the social and psychological gulf between adults and children. Funny and dark by turns, this is the work of an undeniably gifted story teller. (Greg Eden The Bookseller)

A lucid style reminiscent of Hemingway, and an unadorned plot that creates instant empathy for Burt, the child narrator ... Buten wonderfully captures a child's frame of mind, making Burt a whole and appealing character without resorting to overly simplistic language. (Foreword) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Howard Buten has had seven novels published in France and has been published to wide acclaim in seven other European countries. In 1991, Buten was named a Chevalier des Artes et Lettres, France's highest literary honour. He lives in New York and Paris. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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WHEN I WAS FIVE I KILLED MYSELF. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Semioticghost on 11 July 2005
Format: Paperback
Hailed as 'one of the most charming voices since Holden Caulfield', Burton Rembrand is the eight year old hero of this unusual and occasionally bewildering narrative of love, loyalty and the injustice inherent in not being understood by the adult world.
Burton tries to express his feelings for another girl his age and is thrown into an institution for disturbed children for his troubles. His deadpan perspective and impeccable language -he is, after all, the spelling champion of his grade- carry the novel though the flashbacks gradually constructing the events which led to him being locked up. He is no madder than you or I, merely puzzled and frequently driven to tantrums by his situation and its restrictions; he makes sense of it all by writing his story on the walls of the 'quiet room', his sanctuary from patronising adults with only his best interests in mind.
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83 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Luanne on 28 Feb. 2003
Format: Paperback
It was the quirky title that initially drew me to this book, and without a doubt, I was more than satisfied with the novel itself. When I Was Five is the tale of eight year old Burt, who is sent away to a childrens residential home by his parents, after trying to express his love for his friend, Jessica. Buten captures perfectly the mind of an eight year old. The prose is simple, and at times very funny. But there is no escaping the horror behind the humour, and often while I was laughing, my heart was aching for Burt, who is so misunderstood and bewildered. All he wanted to do was be a good friend, and he can't understand why he is being punished.
Originally, this book was aimed at the young adult market, but I think it works perfectly as an adult book. It is one of the best books I have ever read, pure and simple. Read it, because if you don't you are missing out on an amazing talent and a heart stopping book.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. V. M. on 20 July 2009
Format: Paperback
What a brilliant little book!
I bought it because of the disturbing title and not much else....but it was fantastic and I feel so lucky to have stumbled across it. A great story, fantastic main character and brilliantly written. I know I will read it many more times and recommend it to anyone who will listen!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By aee on 31 May 2011
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed the book - written from eight-year-old Burt's point of view it shows how confused he is about why everyone's panicked at his behaviour towards Jessica, an eccentric schoolgirl he seems smitten with and wants to befriend. I thought the child's voice would grate, but the pace of the novel, combined with his mature language, makes this a gripping story and one that's quite quick to read. It's a shame it hasn't enjoyed more popularity (I don't think it's particularly well-known outside of France and Germany) but I think anyone who enjoyed Catcher in the Rye (a cliche, but still if it was your cup of tea you'd like this!) plus Room (if you enjoyed reading it from a confused child's point of view!) might like it.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By P. Toche on 19 July 2006
Format: Paperback
This book was initially published under the title Burt.

I do not know if there are any differences between the two publications. Burt was translated into French with the title "Quand j'avais cinq ans je m'ai tué", which translates approximately as "When I was Five I'm killed myself", with a grammatical error in the title, as a kid would talk. The grammatical error that was central to the title's success in France does not feature in this newly titled American edition.

The book was a huge success in France. Howard Buten became something of a celebrity there, publishing more books, with some success, though never the hit that this one book was.

This book is beautiful. I read it when I was 16, when it first came out in the French translation, got all my friends to read it and everybody loved it. I read it a few more times back then, some twenty years ago.

I always thought it a little sad that an American author would not find readership among his countrymen. But hopefully it could change with this new edition and the snappy title.

Howard Buten is a very decent human being who, among other things, is a clown artist. He performs in France regularly.

This is Howard Buten's best book, as far as I am aware (I have read three other of his books, also very good).

"Burt" aka "When I was Five I killed Myself" is a masterpiece.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anwen Peng on 6 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Some really great first person narrative sits over a story that doesn't really have that much to say. Adults and children communicate in different ways, erm, that's about it. This is a quick, entertaining and mildly provocative piece that is definitely worth a read but certainly not worthy of the high critical praise it has garnered. Buten does well to get two hundred pages out of the one significant thing that actually happens in the piece and that is a tribute to his writing. On the whole though, this book felt like a first draft that could have been much more developed.

This particular edition comes with notes written in German for German speakers and is unusually small. It is a great size for reading on the train.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By CF Dorrian on 20 May 2011
Format: Paperback
What a smashing little book. It kept me in suspense till the end. Exceedingly well written and sensetively written also. The suspense meant that I could not put the book down and when I had to, due to its size it fitted into my pocket. Definately a classic. Dont be put off by the tittle. One of the best books I've read in a long time.
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