The language of innocence
Is it possible to fall in love at eight years old?
The answer is inside this small book. And the words used by the author are not a writer’s, nor a psychologist’s, least of all those of a clown. Howard Buten, in his real life, is all these things, but in his literary work he is even more than this: he is the faithful and wonderful translator of a little man’s thoughts, a little man who has been confined to a mental hospital by the grown up people’s sad and standardized world.
The story is told directly by the main character; he jumps the way children do from the crumbled memories of his life to a present restricted by the bars of the hospital. The greatness of style of this masterpiece does not depend on the refinement of the writing, nor does it feed on learned words, but it stands out in the essential sobriety of real things. The tale lives in the delicacy of feeling shown by Burt, the little hero who, without being aware he is doing so, totally falls in love with Jessica, a girl his own age.
This is top-level literature; sometimes the explicitness of certain situations is disturbing but, at the same time, it is of an unbearable sweetness.
‘But isn’t this what you adults call love?’
Translation by Paola Roveda (edited by Roma O’Flaherty)