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Fat Man and Little Boy

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  117 ratings  ·  25 reviews

Two bombs over Japan. Two shells. One called Little Boy, one called Fat Man. Three days apart. The one implicit in the other. Brothers.

Named one of Flavorwire's best independent books of 2014, and winner of the 2013 Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize.

In this striking debut novel, the atomic bombs dropped on Japan are personified as Fat Man and Little Boy. This small measure of h
Paperback, 416 pages
Published October 14th 2014 by Black Balloon Publishing (first published October 1st 2014)
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Average rating 3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  117 ratings  ·  25 reviews

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Claudia Putnam
"There are a hundred ways to make a man into a bomb." But can a bomb become a person?

I really loved this book. I received it as a first-reads giveaway and am providing an honest review. I read it in small pieces, a chapter or two each night. Each chapter was a gem. I saw that some people consider this book to be magical realism, but I don't think that's the right term for it. Magical realism is about the blurring of the line between imagination and "reality" and argues that what we imagine is j
Xian Xian
I won this in a First Reads Giveaway. Thank You!

Oh yes, this was the novel that took me way too long to finish, longer than any book below 600 pages. I shouldn't be ashamed of it, but this is usually the type of book that I would devour in two weeks. Those who are college students, readers, and bloggers, you would probably know that those gaps of silence are usually because it's a rough semester. This was a rough novel, with tiny patches of softness, little dots of hope in the middle of somethin
Dec 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
I struggled to assign meanings to characters and events in Fat Man and Little Boy, all the while aware that attempting to do so was wrong-headed and futile. Little Boy and Fat Man, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atom bombs, born as human brothers at the moment of their detonations, three days apart? Sure. Extinguished Japanese souls attempting to be reborn, literally under the brothers' feet? Okay. But what am I to make of the policemen, the short and the tall one? What do they represent? And for th ...more
Sep 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: war
Fat Man and Little Boy is going on the shortlist of the best books that I have read in 2014. It is difficult to believe that the novel is Mike Meginnis' debut, for it is a rather stunning first in its language, story, and plot. I congratulated Mr. Meginnis at the publisher's table in the Brooklyn Book Festival just a few weeks ago for being the proud author of a published book, but more hearty congratulations are in order in view of the contents of his novel.

The plot of Fat Man and Little Boy is
Jessica Smith
Oct 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Truly unique in it's story line, Fat Man And Little Boy takes a subject that we all know something about and turns it into more that just history, it makes it relatable on a more human level, letting the reader inside the minds and feelings of the two humanized brother bombs.

The two atom bombs dropped on Japan become "born" into human for upon their landing. They are transformed into exactly what they sound like... a fat man and a little boy. The two brothers know who they are, how they were mad
Aug 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, first-reads
This was an incredibly imaginative novel. The two brother-bombs try to live in the world after their explosions. This alternate world - not so far from reality that we forget the sadness, anxiety, devastation of war - is intriguing. I was captivated throughout.

This was a Goodreads First Reads.
Madolyn R.
Jan 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Definitely one of the more interesting and unique books I've ever read. It's hard for me to describe how I feel about this book.......just read it. If you like magical/paranormal(Maybe this fits) mixed with realism, read it.
P.S. Winn
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Take a step into history and never forget, lest we do something like ths again. extraordinary journey to the past and how our world changed,
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm giving this a four because it's really a strange story that I STILL think about years later. Other star for such a novel concept. The other two stars are for the story telling, which meandered. I have only read a few books which rocked my world. And this one did that for sure.
Charles Stanford
Jan 14, 2020 rated it did not like it
The work of a sad little man who needs to see the ocean.
Jonathan Gruber
Dec 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
interesting premise but didn't do enough with it. I gave up after 100 pages
Nov 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Imagine that each of the two atomic bombs the U.S. dropped on Japan during World War II begat a human being (or a being near human) upon impact. That’s the premise behind Mike Meginnis’s Fat Man and Little Boy. Yes, Fat Man (he changes his name to John) is fat; and, yes, Little Boy (later Matthew) is little. In an ironic touch, however, Little Boy is the “big” brother, born three days before Fat Man.

Fat Man and Little Boy travel, first across Japan, later about the world, trying to figure out wh
Aya Hayashi
Mar 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-read-2015
Book Riot #ReadHarder Challenge #4: Book published by an Indie Press - Fat Man and Little Boy by Mike Meginnis

This premise of this book is that the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945 - Fat Man and Little Boy - became human after they exploded. Fat Man became a seemingly middle-aged fat man and Little Boy became a never aging boy. The story follows them through various escapades and relationships in post-war Japan, France, and America.

Even a week after reading this, I hesitatingly recommen
Joe Moss
Nov 20, 2015 rated it did not like it
I was intrigued by the premise of this book and quite attracted by the artwork so it is with regret that I have to say I found it very disappointing indeed.

Of course magical realism takes us to all sorts of weird and wonderful places but after the audacious leap of imagination to have the only two atomic bombs ever dropped somehow take human form, the novel deteriorated into rather a pedantic tale of the travails of these two human bombs. Frankly, there was little magical in it after that.

It is
Mar 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In the solitude of his captivity, the newborn Fat Man “remembers. Dreams and memory devour the night, mingled beyond recognition. Half-faces and crumpled hands, footprints, coral reef.”

The arrival of his brother--the smaller bomb, but first born, and thus for a while the elder, come in search of him--sets Fat Man free...

It is Meginnis’s great gift in these opening scenes and throughout the novel to invoke the brothers in all their fantastical and elusive humanity with engaging simplicity and hum
Al Kratz
Sep 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Gave this a rare 5 star because it's so unique. It's the story of the atomic bombs fat man and little boy becoming personified and dealing with the aftermath of their explosion. It's a memorable book and one that I likely will give a second read or continue to be thinking about its sub-text and what different parts of it meant. It was super poetic and at times reminded me of how the pink Floyd the wall movie captured the ugliness and disillusionment of war in a beautiful way.
Jason F Ceynar
Nov 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Darkly beautiful; an unusual premise (the twin atomic bombs dropped on Japan in the waning days of WWII become human brothers), but with skilled, poetic prose, Meginnis weaves a masterful tale of magical realism that, strangely, reveals itself to be the perfect vehicle for exploring the human impact of this destructive act of war, both on the victims of the blast and on the "bombs" responsible for the destruction. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Nov 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is quite a bombshell of a novel. The bombs become people amidst the aftermath of WWII. It's both strange and delicately lovely. It humanizes us at the same time that it humanizes the bombs. Very nice.
★ krasnayazvezda ★
Mar 28, 2015 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: People who like talking bombs, People who like stream of consciousness
The idea of the novel, the personification of two bombs, appealed to me more than the actual novel or the bombs themselves. The writing is vivid and beautiful, in a way, but I found it too visceral and bloated at times.
Sep 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Fascinating approach to exploring questions of "passive" guilt and paying consequences. Highly imaginative characters with wonderfully complicated relationships and responses to the world. The ending lost some energy for me, but overall, a wonderful novel.
Jan 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: small-press
I enjoyed this, though not quite as much as Meginnis' short fiction.
Aug 07, 2014 rated it liked it
It reminds me a lot of The Orphan Master's Son for some reason.
Sep 20, 2015 added it
Plenty of people liked this book. Might be good for book clubs -- discussion topics could be: Peace, War, Brutality, Complicity...
Joan Funk
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
I'm too literal for this book. I read the first 100 pages and decided to move on.
Albert Straub
May 29, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book sucked.
Alex Meginnis
rated it it was amazing
Dec 24, 2014
Cbsd library
rated it it was amazing
Sep 23, 2014
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Oct 13, 2014
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Dec 17, 2017
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Jan 29, 2018
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Mike Meginnis has published stories in Best American Short Stories 2012, The Collagist, PANK, and many others. He contributes regularly to HTML Giant and Kill Screen, and plays collaborative text adventures at He earned his MFA at New Mexico State University, where he served as a managing editor of Puerto del Sol for two years. He coedits Uncanny Valley Press with his wife, Tracy Rae ...more

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