Overlook Press

Skip to Main Content »

Search Site

You're currently on:

When I Was Five I Killed Myself

More Views

When I Was Five I Killed Myself

Howard Buten

Available at:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Be the first to review this product


ISBN 13: 978-1-58567-039-0
Trim Size: 5 3/8 x 8

Product Description

A lost American novel that explores the chasm between childhood and adulthood in the strikingly honest words of a misunderstood little boy.

Burton Rembrandt has the sort of perspective on life that is impossible for most adults to begin to comprehend: the perspective of an 8-year-old boy. And to Burt, his parents and teachers seem to be speaking a language he cannot understand. When Burt meets Jessica, a classmate, he finds solace from the problems of growing up, of dealing with parents and teachers and adults in general. But when he expresses the ardent feelings he has for Jessica he is placed in an institution with autistic, mentally retarded, sociopathic, and generally disturbed children. This is Burt s story as written in pencil on the walls of the Quiet Room in The Children s Trust Residence Center. It begins: When I was five I killed myself.

First published in the United States in 1981 as a young adult novel, Buten s poignant portrait of childhood never quite crossed the line that separates adolescent and adult fiction to become the classic it has become across Europe. In France, When I Was Five I Killed Myself has sold millions of copies and has been hailed the French Catcher in the Rye. Perhaps with this re-publication of When I Was Five I Killed Myself, Buten s strange, funny, and darkly touching tale, will lead at long last to Buten and his novel being noticed at home.

A compelling study of the tragedy that can result when literal-minded children and literal-minded adults fail to understand each other. . . . 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. The re-publication, after nearly two decades, of this imaginative and provocative book should earn the author the acclaim he deserves on this side of the Atlantic. Publishers Weekly, starred review

Howard Buten has had seven novels published in France, the first of which, When I Was Five I Killed Myself, has become a modern classic in translation. He is a clinical psychologist and also performs as Buffo the Clown.

Product Tags

Add Your Tags:
Use spaces to separate tags. Use single quotes (') for phrases.
Download our catalogs
Winter 2019
Fall 2018
Summer 2018
Winter 2018
PG Wodehouse