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The Littlest Hitler
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The Littlest Hitler

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3.67  ·  Rating details ·  552 ratings  ·  101 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published August 15th 2006 by Counterpoint (first published January 1st 2006)
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Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Jan 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Surreal Realists, Real Surrealists
René Magritte and David Lynch. These are two signifiers that point towards a general, sometimes hazily defined aesthetic that I absolutely adore and consequently happen to run into every once and a while. When I find something that gives me that feeling I frequently rely heavily on these names in order to at least start making the ineffable effable—to steady my explanatory fumbling with well-anchored metaphors and ubiquitous cultural touchstones. An attempt to relay my reactions to this book bey ...more
karen
Jan 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of george saunders, a.m. homes and kelly link
Shelves: table, hey-shorty
this collection is just "off" enough to appeal to me. its a good balance of creepy and gentle, with some humor infusing both. i tend not to read short stories, so for me to have liked all but one ("written by machines"), well it means this book can stay on table.
Paquita Maria Sanchez
I never thought I would say this, but this book may actually be too cynical for me. More specifically, the cynicism, as well as the consistently blunt and detached presentation of such cryptic, violent, and generally nauseating subject matter, felt forced. The stories were entertaining and fast-paced, but the overall picture left me wondering what the hell the point was supposed to be. Life's a bitch and people are cruel? Okaaaay...

You know how John Waters often feels pretty ick just for ick's s
...more
Greg
Oct 19, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
A fun collection of short stories, in the same vein as George Saunders or a less verbose David Foster Wallace. The surreal quality thrown into these stories that mainly deal with everyday life in modern society works incredibly well. Where the idea of child being drafted to kill his parents for the protection of American Democracy would seem an unbelievable premise, but in his hands it seems as natural and banal as anything that occurs in our own everyday lives. Overall a funny criticism of our ...more
Steve
Feb 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
For certain restless minds, the treadmill of realism may get a little tedious. Ryan Boudinot is one possible remedy. The Littlest Hitler features stories that mix humor, biting social commentary, and surrealism in varying amounts, all to good effect. While I can’t wax profound like Joshua did in his review, I can tell you that the more absurd elements have a point to them. In one example, a woman produced a new weapon in the face of office politics (and sexual politics, too) when she came to wor ...more
Christy
Sep 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I did read "The Littlest Hitler" in an anthology, and I can't wait to read the rest of this collection!
***
I started reading the rest of the stories this morning, and I loved the story "Bee Beard." I'm on a constant search for good literature about the world of work, specifically the cubicle-inhabiting, mouse-clicking kind of work that so many of us spend the bulk of our lives doing. "Bee Beard" was a good example. Plus, I am afraid of bees, so the whole story was very freaky.
***
Finished this up
...more
The Crimson Fucker
This is some good shit! Just to think that this guy took this to a publishing office and wasn’t sent straight to one of those nice places where they give you an uncomfortable jackets and some pills… makes me want to take my shit to one and hope for the same!
Kelli
Oct 08, 2007 rated it liked it
I originally gave this two stars, because I didn't really enjoy this book. But then, I thought about how I've been pondering this book for days now, how I can't decide if I liked it, if it was meaningful to me in any way, if the author is simply creative without making any genuinely relevant points. I felt like each of the short stories fell a little flat, but they were packed with enough originality to make me wish they were more. So, I figure if the book makes me think about it for days, then ...more
Jasmine
May 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american
I have decided the difference between 4 and 5 stars is actually my mood. I am in a four star mood currently but I have decided to give this book five stars anyway because it is in no way Ryan's fault.

I was shocked that Karen recommended this book to me because of an innate assumption that we have completely different taste, but this book is exactly the kind of thing that I like. I mean the book is horrifically morbid, but in a fun way. The author seems a bit creepily obsessed with horrible thin
...more
Greg
May 12, 2007 rated it liked it
Boudinot can definitely write and he's often funny ... but this short story collection just doesn't work nearly as well as it should. He overdoes the absurd and shock endings and can't just let a story stand on its own. Something always has to happen or be revealed in the end. And the absurdity often feels more like weirdness for the sake of weirdness a lot of the time. But its a written with verve, style, and a great eye for the oddities in the everyday.
Adam
Dec 22, 2009 rated it it was ok
These stories rely way too much on gimmick and absurdity. There isn't much depth to be spoken of.
I was intrigued by the Dave Eggers blurb on the back cover comparing Boudinot to Barthelme and Vonnegut, and I was sorely disappointed. The stories were nowhere near as sharply written as Barthelme and had none of the human pathos of
Vonnegut. There are some very clever moments, to be sure, but cleverness shouldn't be considered enough for short stories.
Jon
Apr 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Some great short stories here. It's all pretty tight writing, with disturbing tangents and twists. It's not as overwhelmingly satisfying as his book "Blueprints of the Afterlife", but it's some very solid stuff.
Esteban del Mal
Apr 16, 2010 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Esteban by: My 'to-read' shelf
Couldn't finish. The writing is too antiseptic for the themes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jl6yP5...
Joshua Van Dereck
Dec 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Littlest Hitler is almost a collection of bloated flash fiction. The entries are often breathtakingly brief, truncated, almost incomplete. Yet, the work as a whole has a consistent thematic message and leaves a profound, disturbing feeling in its wake. These slivered bits of shorts are so vivid that they linger in the subconscious, haunting daydreams days after you have read them.

The collection contains an array of commentaries on America and modern life, often juxtaposing the banal with the
...more
Chris Ng
Some feel these stories are absurd and gimmicky. If the gimmick ends in itself and doesn't lead readers to further insights or explorations. Then they are pointless jokes, mere entertainment. (Still super funny)

But these short stories are alot more than that. For example, in The Littlest Hitler, you can tell something important is missing in Davy's life, his mother. And both the father/son are trying their best to live as a normal life as they can with their impaired social skills, or the lack o
...more
Lauren
Jun 08, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Every once in a while, a book is written when there's no need for it. This was one of them. The sad thing about this particular book is that it's a book of short stories. Some of the stories were mediocre at best. The others, well, they weren't entertaining. They weren't enlightening. They weren't even boring in the way that would put me to sleep. But I kept reading on, hoping the next story would be better. It wasn't.
Amber Fernie
Dec 31, 2017 rated it liked it
I was intrigued by the title, cover art, and description on the jacket, but wasn’t expecting much from this collection of short stories. I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy it quite a bit. The author does a good job making the everyday and the nostalgic surreal and dark, but somehow still fun in spirit. A little bit of The Wonder Years meets The Twilight Zone.
Patrick
Dec 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like surreal short stories
I first came across Ryan Boudinot from the titular story of this collection, which was the opening story from the 'Best American Non-Required Reading' in 2003. It's a wonderful little story about a child who dresses up as Hitler for Halloween because he wanted to go as something really scary, not fully comprehending the repercussions of such a decision.

That story, while great, didn't really prepare me for the strange world of Ryan Boudinot. In my opinion, he is at his best when he's writing real
...more
Persephone
Jan 14, 2010 rated it it was ok
Once again, I rather wish there were a two-and-a-half star option.

Some of these short stories are fine little gems. The eponymous story is heart-breaking in its take on class politics in a grade-school class. "On Sex and Relationships" is a snap-shot of a long-term friendship between two couples which has probably finally run its course, and "Newholly" takes an unflinching look (well, okay, flinches are involved) at what happens when one's liberal outlook is really put to the test. "Written by M
...more
Jeff
Aug 02, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people who wear hats.
What can't I say about this book? Elephants? Nope, been said.
Ryan Boudinot looks like a large man who could very easily kick my ass. It's with this in mind that I say, "I loved this book!"
Actually, it's okay. It's not bad. It can be read by people who know how to read. Let me put it this way: I never at any point and time wanted to gouge my eyes out, slash my wrists, or stick my head in the oven (I have an electric oven, so eventually it would have killed me... but it probably would have been wa
...more
Justine
Aug 28, 2007 rated it liked it
So Boudinot's stories remind me alot of Kurt Vonnegut's collection of the same (Welcome to the Monkey House). Not because I remember much of Vonnegut's stories, but because I remember the same creeped-out feeling I got that almost made me sleep with the lights on last night (no joke).

Boudinot brilliant blends the mundate and the pop with the seriously disturbing. The language is marvelously tight (like a tiger?) and his diction is wonderfully chosen and executed. The weird thing about the storie
...more
Alexkube
Apr 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Ryan Boudinot proves he is a master of the absurd and surreal here, employing his talent to peel back the strained fabric of class politics in an overly PC world. Through the conversation of two couples comparign their lives to each other in a game of one-up, in keeping the calm and accepting differences in an office where one's boss wears a beard of bees, and through the titular story where a young boy learns the hard way what constitutes acceptable in our newly minted 21st century; we see the ...more
Sarah
Jan 30, 2008 rated it liked it
The dystopic stories-- in which salesmen are socially sanctioned rapists/criminals and the government enforces a policy of patricide-- are good, and generally satisfy with their classic O. Henry twists. But Boudinot is at his best when he plays it straight, like he does in "So Little Time," in which the earnest voice of a thirteen-year-old boy with a Dr. Who obsession, a shitty summer job, and a dorky mom and dad, captures the deep, sad space that exists even (or especially) between best friends ...more
Briana
Mar 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure if I just read a work of genius, or if I'm giving Boudinot too much credit. Throughout the collection I felt like I was reading a series of one-liners, until I reached the ending--which always turned out to be some sad, disheartening comment on the world we live in. This isn't a bad thing, since a collection should have a cohesive theme, but after a while it got formulaic. Also, most of the stories had no ending. This also isn't a bad thing, since I like open endings, but after read ...more
Megan
Feb 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
The title story in this book actually made me laugh out loud on the metro. I'm used to trying to hide tears on the metro when I get to the end of books, but I don't usually laugh out loud in response to inanimate stimuli. This was new. I'm generally not that keen on short stories (see my post on St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves for further detail), but Boudinot's collection was different for me.

Rather than just coming up with interesting premises, he inserted interesting moments into t
...more
Dan
May 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those interested in short story collections
this book is bizarre. any reader has to accept this and expect this walking in. otherwise, you're likely going to be a bit blown away. that said, its a good sort of bizarre. the stories are well written, and follow a logic within them clearly. they do not, however, follow any sort of outside logic. nothing is taboo within these. be it a family that eats children for dinner, a child who dresses as hitler for halloween, or a more 'typical' story of old friends who have lost touch and are meeting f ...more
Alison
Aug 21, 2009 rated it liked it
This is a collection of possibly the strangest short stories you will read this year. Like, really. They're completely random and completely ridiculous with kids having to kill their parents and dead people going to work and salesmen shooting people who don't listen to their pitches and people opening not-real toy stores and machines that write poetry... but they're mostly pretty brilliant. There were a couple of stories that just didn't click with me, but in general they were just weird enough ...more
Helen
Jan 24, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of short stories by Ryan Boudinot was his first and I think I need to try some of the more recent work before I can fairly say whether I like the writing. The stories were all technically very well written and I did not find myself checking my watch, so to speak. He has a clear love of sci-fi, even in the stories that have not direct connection to the genre. I found the potpourri approach to be a lot of fun, never knowing what might come next.

However, I just kept thinking over an
...more
Kelly
Mar 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Holding off on an actual review because I'm going to try and pitch this to tipsy ladies book club, but here is a charming story about how this book came into my possession:

In March, I read Blueprints of the Afterlife, loved it and added The Littlest Hitler to my to-read list. In April, I had drinks with some old co-workers and one of them (weirdly, the one who once found a copy of Derek Jeter's life-changing autobiography slash self-help book at a resale store and said "Oh, I picked this up for
...more
Anne
Apr 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a beautifully vicious little book.

I love a good short story as much as the next English major, but these stories didn't just speak to me on an English Major level. They have the level of delicious, terrible weirdness that draws me to writers like George Saunders, Aimee Bender, and Chris Bachelder.

An example: With deadpan seriousness, Boudinot spins a tale about a career day at elementary school where the career in question is a serial killer. Nobody questions the validity of this or rea
...more
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Ryan Boudinot is the author of the novels Blueprints of the Afterlife and Misconception, and the story collections The Octopus Rises and The Littlest Hitler.

Ryan received his Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Bennington College. He also holds a BA from The Evergreen State College. Born in the US Virgin Islands, he grew up in Skagit Valley, in Washington State, and now lives in S
...more
“I pity the foo who kills all the Jews.” 4 likes
“Did you know that the fundamental building blocks of life are not cells, are not DNA are not even carbon but language yeah 'cause DNA is just a four-character language and binary code is a two-character language and what these languages are saying is the very act of revealing, so you reach an X-point when language attains a level of complexity where it begins to fold in upon itself trying to understand itself and this is sentience. Did you know that the entire Library of Congress can be encoded in our DNA because all you have to do is translate a binary system into a four-character system to where you can decode the genes like you're searching a microfiche and if you were to genetically engineer the corpus of human knowledge into our DNA then we'd be able to genetically pass the entire library along from generation to generation like frickin' disease, man.” 3 likes
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