They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it; for it is money they have and peace they lack.
  -James Earl Jones "Field of Dreams"
and don't go mistaking paradise for that home across the road
  -Bob Dylan "Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest"

Thursday, January 29, 2009

When I Was Five I Killed Myself

When I was in college I knew a guy from Detroit. I had met him in freshman orientation and we kept in touch for a few years. At one point he dropped out of school and went to Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey clown school in Florida. (I suspect that this was AFTER the draft lottery that was held 12/1/69 during the first semester of our sophomore year.) He subsequently came back to school in Ann Arbor. We were not real close but I have several recollections of him. Other than occasionally using the "I knew a guy who dropped out and went to clown school" bit in conversation, I hadn't thought about him again until a few weeks ago when I got the idea to google his name.

Howard Buten lives in France, is a clinical pyschologist and is a recognized authority on autism. He is a performing artist known as Buffo the Clown and is well known in France. He has written several novels and received the Chevalier des Artes et Lettres in 1991. A novel that he wrote in English in 1981 was translated to French and has allegedly been read by 1 in 10 people in France, sort of a French Catcher in the Rye, according to the preface. It was re-released in the US in 2000 as "When I Was Five I Killed Myself" -- it was originally titled "Burt". It's about a 3rd grade boy who has emotional issues and is institutionalized. It is written convincingly in first person. I just finished reading it and recommend it highly.

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