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The Littlest Hitler - Stories

Boudinot, Ryan

551 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 1582433577 / ISBN 13: 9781582433578
Published by Counterpoint, 2006
New Condition: New Hardcover
From DogStar Books (Lancaster, PA, U.S.A.)

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8vo 8" - 9" tall; 224 pages; New copy from publisher back stock. 1st printing in dust jacket. New. Bookseller Inventory # 18423

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Littlest Hitler - Stories

Publisher: Counterpoint

Publication Date: 2006

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:New

Dust Jacket Condition: New

Edition: First Edition; First Printing

About this title

Synopsis:

Bette Wore What I Had Come To Secretly Call Her Star Trek uniform, a hideous white suit jacket with too-pointy collars. From her face hung a beard of bees. Everyone's seen these things on TV or in National Geographic. Some farmer standing shirtless in his field, a stalactite of writhing insects dangling from his grinning face. But on Bette, though. Our account manager for digital media. I wasn't even aware she raised bees. 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.

Review:

Work like this used to be called "experimental fiction," but the experiments worked out so well that short stories similar to those in The Littlest Hitler are thick on the ground. That said, almost none of them can compare to Boudinot's effortless style. As for content, what is in this man's brain? He is knee-slappin' funny but never corny, witty, ironic, smart as punch, really angry about the world in which we find ourselves, and can write about violence, tenderness, confusion, purpose, and utter mayhem with equal aplomb. Critics are at great pains to compare him to other short story writers, but don't worry about who he is "like." He exhausts the species; he is sui generis.

The title story is about Davy, a middle-schooler whose father lets him go to a Halloween party dressed as Hitler. His classmate Lysette shows up as Anne Frank. Ouch. For most writers, that would be enough; not for Boudinot. The ending will bring you to your knees. Speaking of endings, the snapper at the end of "On Sex and Relationships" comes out of nowhere and is the perfect explanation of all that has gone before. "Newholly" is a chilling tale of a white bread couple living next door to a Somalian woman who beats her children. If they tell, will she be deported? If they don't, will the children be damaged in unforeseeable ways? "Absolut Boudinot" is only a page and a half but packs the wallop of a novel. A major terrorist group strikes on Halloween, dressed as clowns. "We weren't the kinds of terrorists interested in killing lots of people. We sought to destroy property..." The first bomb takes out the Federal Courthouse, a caravan of limos taking teenagers to a formal dance, a convent full of nuns, the Humane Society and a Homeless Shelter. "Oh well, that's one of the costs of doing our part to avenge Big Government and Homosexual Rights." The story ends: "As the sound of emergency vehicles filled our ears, we raised our glasses to toast the destruction of decadent Western civilization and a job well done."

There's no question where Boudinot's sympathies lie, but he is not a preacher. He shows us with tight writing and instantly recognizable characters what he wants us to know. This is one of the best short story collections to come down the pike in a long time. Watch out for Boudinot. --Valerie Ryan

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