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How I Became Stupid [Paperback]

Martin Page

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Book Description

Nov. 29 2004
Ignorance is bliss, or so hopes Antoine, the lead character in Martin Page?s stinging satire, How I Became Stupid?a modern day Candide with a Darwin Award?like sensibility. A twenty-five-year-old Aramaic scholar, Antoine has had it with being brilliant and deeply self-aware in today?s culture. So tortured is he by the depth of his perception and understanding of himself and the world around him that he vows to denounce his intelligence by any means necessary?in order to become ?stupid? enough to be a happy, functioning member of society. What follows is a dark and hilarious odyssey as Antoine tries everything from alcoholism to stock-trading in order to lighten the burden of his brain on his soul.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (Nov. 29 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142004952
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142004951
  • Product Dimensions: 17.9 x 13 x 1.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #543,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Booklist

Twenty-five-year-old Parisian Antoine is sick. The disease? Intelligence. Desperate to find a cure for his overactive brain, Antoine considers alcoholism, suicide, and lobotomy, but none seems quite right for his special needs. A new job, though, is just the ticket. Accepting a position in his high-school friend's brokerage firm, Antoine finds the burdens of consciousness gradually slipping away. This delightfully over-the-top debut novel was a smash when it was published in France in 2001, but will it play as well stateside? After all, the mediocrity that Antoine deems essential to being happy in today's society features many elements common to mainstream American culture. Still, there is always an audience--if not an enormous one--for novels that skewer thick-headed simplicity, and this absurdist comedy mounts a formidable attack. Only an abrupt and puzzlingly optimistic ending detracts from the note of cheerful pessimism that drives the story. Beth Leistensnider
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


A harmonious and surprising mixture of optimism and nihilism. (La Vie Magazine)

A wild yet powerful book. (Elle)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Antoine had always felt he was living in dog years. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.6 out of 5 stars  43 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars tis a plight for sure... March 8 2005
By M. Miller - Published on
Antoine, a twenty-five year old Frenchman, wants the finer things in life. He decrees that he shall no longer be burdened by intelligence, critical analysis, or culture. Instead, he wants to be stupid.

Now, this may seem like an idiotic thought, but to Antoine it makes sense because his attempts at becoming an alcoholic failed, after only a half-glass, and his suicide instructor accidentally led him away from the morbid path. Go figure.

Overall, this book is a glimpse, as one reviewer put it, into Antoine's "wonderful existential journey." Not too deep mind you, and that is one of the main faults. This book, sensibly enough, is especially alluring to the reader who finds that he or she relates to Antoine - pre-stupidity attempts. In this sense we feel his pain, and see a tidbit of ourselves. However, as previously mentioned, this book is short and does not offer us the expanded view, into either ourselves or existentialism in general, that we might have wanted.

(Also especially poignant for the Huckabees fan)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect gift for disaffected grad students Aug. 17 2005
By C. Tucker - Published on
This small book is a dazzling journey from the hallowed halls of academic life, wherein the main character is somewhat chronically depressed, to the bright, shiny corporate world outside (where he is breifly less depressed). Although the book does not resolve the Big Questions of existence that it brings up,I'm not sure that resolution is the point here. Page makes a brilliantly foray into the long literary conversation about the true meaning of happiness, joy, and the pursuit of knowledge. It makes a highly entertaining, smart afternoon read.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful existential journey Dec 15 2004
By Izzy - Published on
"How I became stupid" is a gracefully narrated tale of a man afflicted by his intelligence. As the character tries to escape his curse by becoming stupid he learns of his own limitations, the true value of stupidity and the importance of friendship. This type of book teaches philosophy by showing rather than telling, and it does so in a hugely entertaining and funny fashion. At fewer than 200 pages and written in a very straightforward way, the book is a great, great afternoon read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious, But Fun Jan. 25 2005
By Harkius - Published on
As I read Martin Page's soliloquy on the penalties of intelligence, I felt almost frightened by some similarities to recent thought patterns of my own. Despite this, I enjoyed the book.

The protagonist of the story is bedeviled by his own understanding, and he suffers from the curse of the self-aware: his existence is bourgois and has no point. Seeking to avoid this realization, he attempts to find ways to deprive himself of this knowledge, including the aforementioned alcoholism, suicide, HappyZac (not to be confused with that other well-known SSRI), and other delightful distractions of modern life.

My biggest problem with the book, surprisingly, was not its pretentious nature, which I enjoyed, as it was perfect typecasting for the narrator. Rather, I didn't accept the nature of the character development. Most people will read this and understand what I mean, so I won't spoil the story. Suffice it to say, the results of spilling coffee on your keyboard are not what he was looking for, and the suggestion that this somehow led him where he ended up was a bit farcical and forced.

I must also confess a sort of bitter ambivalence toward the book as a result of having seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind recently, and the Conclusion of the book had a rather Deus ex Machina result that left me feeling a bit like Alice. The only thing that I could connect to was the movie, and I felt that was unfortunate.

A good book, well worth the afternoon it takes to read it. Read it, share it, pass it on. Don't consider it an instruction manual, though. Unless you are into that kind of thing. In which case, Backa!

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Also on a quest to be stupid... May 2 2005
By ilovegoodbooks - Published on
Upon reading the back of this book, I just knew it was for me. If you've ever thought that intelligence is a curse and that 'ignorance is bliss' is the truest statement ever - then this book is definitely for you!

The poor guy that is the lead character feels that intelligence is a curse and begins a quest to be like everyone else. You will feel bad for him at how quickly his attempt to be an alcoholic fails. And you will laugh at the absurdity of the suicide class. And then he really gets serious about his quest for stupidity and the cheeky passages wilmake you cackle aloud.

I enjoyed this book, however I thought it could have been executed a tad bit better. But if you feel like you are of a rare breed (intelligent in a non-intelligent world) then you will appreciate this book.

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