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My Stupid Intentions

My Stupid Intentions

by Bernardo Zannoni, translated from the Italian by Alex Andriesse

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My Stupid Intentions is the autobiography of a beech marten named Archy. Born into poverty, maimed by an accident, he is sold into servitude by his mother and taught to read and write by Solomon—a pawnbroking fox whose knowledge derives from a Bible that fell on his head while he was busy feeding on a hanged man.

Even as Archy’s life is transformed by his discovery of the written word and his grappling with the entity called God, he longs for an existence guided by instinct. He longs to be “a real animal.” But there is no way of unlearning what he has learned. Caught between his natural urges and his acquired knowledge, he seeks the meaning of his story by writing it.
This debut novel by the young Italian author Bernardo Zannoni is set in a primordial landscape where animals talk and tend their hearths but are never free from the struggle for survival. A picaresque fable, it has drawn comparisons to Pinocchio and Watership Down, The Wind in the Willows and The Stranger.

Additional Book Information

Series: New York Review Books
ISBN: 9781681377285
Pages: 224
Publication Date:


Despite its fairy-tale-like feel, [My Stupid Intentions] is nothing cute…Life in Archy’s world is a constant fight for survival, and, while Zannoni’s story implies that thinking and instinct may mean different things for animals than they do for us, he provokes the reader to consider just how different their realm truly is.
The New Yorker

My Stupid Intentions stands apart from any common fairy tale; while there is a fantastical bent to Zannoni’s anthropomorphic narrative, little room will be made to accommodate playfulness or moral lessons... Zannoni uses Archy’s conflicted nature to explore a host of philosophically rich themes, such as free will, the nature of God, and death.
— Colm McKenna, The Rumpus

Bernardo Zannoni’s eloquent and heartbreaking debut novel, the bildungsroman of a beech marten named Archy who lives in an unforgiving version of the Hundred Acre Wood, offers no redeeming cuteness….The truths Zannoni explores are familiar and the animal tale might be one of the oldest literary genres. But he brings to both a fresh vividness…and limpid simplicity that revitalizes them.
—Peter Keough, The Arts Fuse

Zannoni's novel bristles with life, teems with a propulsive energy. This energy pulses at both the sentence and paragraph level in Andriesse's nimble translation.
—Edwin Turner, Biblioklept

My Stupid Intentions is a beautiful beech marten of a novel: cunning, sleek, warm-blooded, and feral. Bernardo Zannoni executes a daring premise with heart and humor. A thrilling debut.
—Nathaniel Rich

In this exciting modern twist on The Wind in the Willows, Zannoni knows when to leave his existential Eden behind and go for the jugular.
Publishers Weekly

The character of Archy, in all his awkward, vulnerable marten-ness, emerges as courageously as any classical hero. . . . This darkly beguiling novel casts its enchantments with an eye trained on the human heart, with its false chambers and rough, bestial inclinations. A remarkable education in the grief of staying alive.
Kirkus starred review

A small saga by an offensively gifted young writer, My Stupid Intentions looks at our deepest hopes and fears through the lives of feral creatures. This deeply fascinating parable is by turns sweet and ruthless, joyful and cruel. Zannoni has created a world where bliss and tragedy live divided by a hairsbreadth, one following the other as surely as summer chases fall.
—Laura Graveline, Brazos Bookstore

I resisted reading this novel. Talking animals? And what is a marten, anyway? But to my surprise I was quickly drawn in by the swift flow of events and the acute sensibility of its narrator, Archy. The tale of his life is rich with difficulty, change, adventure, and tragic turns of fate, like human lives. But he remains an animal, and the tension between his all too human narrative and his animal nature drives the story with an uncanny and irresistible force.
—Lynne Sharon Schwartz

A novel of extraordinary caliber, driven along by an extraordinary youthful aplomb mellowed and transfigured by the wise and symbolic world of the fairy tale.
L’Indice dei libri del mese

Zannoni has written an anthropomorphic picaresque novel, but this description doesn’t do it justice. It is sweet and cruel, a tale about difference, weakness, and change. . . . Every time we forget that Archy is a beech marten, we are reminded of it by Zannoni’s depictions of ruthless and devastating nature, whose inexorable seasons must be respected and feared.

The life of a beech marten, told by himself, [it] is a novel that fascinates from its first pages and, in the end, delivers on all of its promises.
Il Quotidiano del Sud

A limpid and ambitious novel, written by a twenty-five-year-old. A surprising debut.
Alto Adige

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