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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: 5.1 x 7.2 x 0.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #349,348 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)
First Sentence
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  42 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)
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful existential journey Dec 15 2004
By Israel - 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.
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.
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great ideas poorly executed April 1 2005
By Laurie Fudd - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I wanted very much to like this book. I had read reviews of it, and it seemed to mesh very much with how I have been feeling lately. However, when I read it, I was very disappointed. I felt like it was the outline of a better book, and wasn't very well fleshed out. The main character had very little insight into his own behavior, and was somewhat of a hypocrite. For example, there are many descriptions of Antoine stealing from and cheating people, and yet he goes on and on about how few moral people are left in the world. This can work as a literary device, but I got the impression from the way it was written that the author didn't have a lot of insight into Antoine's behavior either.

I mainly thought that the book was very lazily written. There are some potentially interesting supporting characters that are given short shrift. For example, Antoine has a friend named Aas that, due to a childhood trauma, only speaks in verse. Page doesn't ever give us a sample of this verse, only says things like, "In a magnificent sonnet, Aas told Antoine...." I can hear echoes of my old writing teachers: Show me, don't tell me. The book is replete with examples of this.

It was not entirely bad. There are some very interesting ideas in the book, and some phrasings that really caught my attention. The first paragraph is great. However, these shining moments were the exception and not the rule. My overall impression was that this was a book written by a very young author (he was in his mid-twenties when it was published, I believe) who had some great ideas that he was eager to get on paper. He got them on paper as quickly as he could, and couldn't be bothered with the details or internal consistency because they just slowed him down. Unfortunately, no agent or editor along the way asked him to slow down and fill in the blanks. I'd like to see Page, who obviously has unguided talent, rewrite this book when he is ten years older.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How to have a stupid ending Aug. 2 2005
By C. S. Frederick - Published on
This book was almost too clever with friends named Aas (who can only speak in poetry and glows in the dark) and Ganja (who always has some "herbal" remedy"). Still I was enjoying it until the ending which left a lot to be desired. The trip was more enjoyable than the destination. It was translated from French so maybe it's a French thing and I just don't get it.

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