Littlest Hitler: Stories

( 2 )

Overview

In the finely wrought short story tradition of David Bezmozgis and Aimee Bender, Ryan Boudinot emerges as a stunning new literary voice-funny, gruesome, and absolutely compelling

Welcome to the world of Ryan Boudinot, where a little boy who innocently dresses up as Hitler for Halloween suffers the consequences. ("The Littlest Hitler"); a world where a typical office romance is destroyed by the female half's habit of coming to work covered in live bees ("Bee Beard"); where ...

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Overview

In the finely wrought short story tradition of David Bezmozgis and Aimee Bender, Ryan Boudinot emerges as a stunning new literary voice-funny, gruesome, and absolutely compelling

Welcome to the world of Ryan Boudinot, where a little boy who innocently dresses up as Hitler for Halloween suffers the consequences. ("The Littlest Hitler"); a world where a typical office romance is destroyed by the female half's habit of coming to work covered in live bees ("Bee Beard"); where jacked-up salesmen go on murderous, Burgess-like rampages ("The Sales Team"); and the children of the future are required to kill off their parents—preferably with an ice pick—in order to be accepted to the college of their choice ("Civilization"). You may never want to leave.

In each of these fearless, hilarious, and tightly crafted stories, Boudinot's voice rings with a clarity rarely seen in a debut collection. He speaks to a generation that has tried to seem disaffected but can't help wishing for a better world. His characters shake their heads over the same messes they're busily creating, or lash out angrily at a sex-and-violence-saturated culture. But they can never entirely lose their sense of fun, however perverse it may be.

Author Biography: Ryan Boudinot received an M.F.A. from Bennington College, where he studied with Rick Moody and Amy Hempel. His work has appeared in McSweeney's, BlackBook, nerve.com, and The Best American Non-Required Reading 2003 and 2005. In 2004 he was named one of The Stranger's "Writers to Watch" in their annual Genius Awards issue. He lives in Seattle, where he works at Amazon.com as an editor on the Media team. He is thirty-three years old.

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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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582433578
  • Publisher: Counterpoint Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2006
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,253,701
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Table of Contents

The littlest Hitler 1
On sex and relationships 15
Bee beard 31
Blood relatives 45
I My mother was a monster 47
II Profession 56
Drugs and toys 63
Contaminant 85
Civilization 99
Written bu machines 115
The flautist 135
The sales team 153
Absolut Boudinot 167
So little time 171
Newholly 201
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 30, 2012

    Very good book - check it out!

    Quite the interesting book with lots of unexpected parts to it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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