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The Littlest Hitler
     

The Littlest Hitler

4.5 2
by Ryan Boudinot
 

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Welcome to the world of Ryan Boudinot-where angry yuppies, state-sponsored patricide, bee-keeping femme fatales, and murderous salesman are the norm. Beginning with the title story "The Littlest Hitler," in which nine-year-old Davy devises-with the help of his father-a Halloween costume that will make him the scariest kid in the fourth grade, and deftly cruising

Overview

Welcome to the world of Ryan Boudinot-where angry yuppies, state-sponsored patricide, bee-keeping femme fatales, and murderous salesman are the norm. Beginning with the title story "The Littlest Hitler," in which nine-year-old Davy devises-with the help of his father-a Halloween costume that will make him the scariest kid in the fourth grade, and deftly cruising through a dozen more stories that reveal the everyday outrage and surreal banalities of American life, Boudinot displays a stunning new literary voice that speaks to a generation that can't help wishing for a better world.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Boudinot proves himself a twisted, formidable storyteller in his dark and surefooted debut. In the title story, fourth-grader Davy, with his father's assistance, dresses up as Hitler for Halloween ("I had gotten the idea after watching World War II week on PBS"), but realizes his terrible judgment after an encounter with a classmate dressed as Anne Frank. "On Sex and Relationships" brims with irony as two yuppie couples get together for dinner; the evening is banal enough-board games, nostalgic chitchat-but festering rivalries, buried secrets and bitterness color the evening and threaten to sink the narrator's relationship with his girlfriend. In "Civilization," teens of the future receive "duty papers" when it's time to kill their parents, so as to be accepted into college. Despite his parents' encouragement to kill them ("Don't let your nerves get to you!" reads a Post-it his father sticks to the refrigerator), narrator Craig has his reservations. Reminiscent of early Rick Moody or the short stories of Daniel Handler, each of Boudinot's 13 stories is a microcosm of weirdness imbued with imagination and maniacal wit. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Weirdness rules in the 13 button-pushing stories of this debut collection by a talented Seattle writer. Many are quick black-comic jabs, set in an absurdly over-regimented, depersonalized near-future. For example, the mandate to respect diversity is sorely tested by a woman executive who wears a "Bee Beard" to her office. High-school graduates are offered full college scholarships for "do[ing] the shit work of making America proud"-by murdering their parents (thus, one infers, making way for more patriotic new generations). "The Sales Team" (in an acknowledged parody of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross) turns its reps into "Modern-day Vikings" who get customers' attention via housebreaking, rape and murder. If Donald Barthelme had cohabited with Kathy Acker, he might have dreamed up these, or the brief "Absolut Boudinot," about terrorists who oppose "decadent Western civilization" by wreaking genocidal mayhem on Halloween. But Boudinot can do better, notably in the fine title story-also set during Halloween, when a kid who arrives at school dressed as Hitler finds the little girl on whom he dotes garbed as Anne Frank. The story twists memorably, as Boudinot makes us realize that the boy's confrontational masquerade expresses his divorced father's pathetic clamoring for attention. Good things also happen in "Written by Machines," the tale of a software geek's Faustian pact with his cancer-ridden colleague, who has created a computer program that writes original poetry (shades of Richard Powers here). Best of all is "So Little Time," whose preadolescent narrator weighs the enticements of sexual hearsay and a (hilariously described) sci-fi convention with the hopeless real life ofhis disadvantaged buddy, whose embittered dirt-poor family endures dangers far removed from the tacky melodramatics of "Dungeons and Dragons" and British TV's Dr. Who. When Boudinot writes shtick, he's tiresome. When he writes fully developed stories, he's abrasive, thought-provoking and explosively funny.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781582433806
Publisher:
Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
10/01/2007
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.58(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.59(d)

Meet the Author

Ryan Boudinot received an M.F.A. from Bennington College, where he studied with Rick Moody and Amy Hempel. He is a former Yaddo resident, and his work has been featured in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2003 and 2005, Nerve, McSweeney's, and Black Book. He lives in Seattle, where he works at Amazon.com as an editor on the Media team.

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The Littlest Hitler 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
ratmanohyeah More than 1 year ago
Quite the interesting book with lots of unexpected parts to it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago