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The Littlest Hitler

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  565 ratings  ·  103 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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Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  565 ratings  ·  103 reviews

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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
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
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
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
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
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!
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love to read something once in while that seems to have that halo glow of under-appreciation as it sits on the shelf.  This book is one of them.  First, that cover!  One of my favorites.  It looks like a Halloween costume box... with a Hitler mask.  The end-papers even emulate the cardboard box back that the back-cover has.  It's a piece of art, in design.  And the writing!   Fun, dark, but with a hint of whimsy short stories that would fit right on the shelf of writers with Kelly Link, George ...more
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Bill Hsu
Apr 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is hilarious stuff. "Written by Machines" is a snarky but just slightly affectionate swipe at the first dot com bubble. Automatic poetry. James Tate. Witkin prints.
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
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
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.
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
At times these stories can come across as a bit too precocious, but they're not. There is an ill-formed thread of reality grounding them but not one so overbearing as to keep them down. While lighthearted on the surface, many of them are discomforting. The author, Ryan Boudinot is to be commended at balancing such disparate ideas and themes and attitudes and somehow making them into entertaining short stories.
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.
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
The characters range from the cozily familiar (pre-adolescent Doctor Who fans) to the bizarre (a bee-bearded lady), as do the situations. I loved how the stories kept me off balance, as I'd think I knew the world Boudinot was writing about but some event or detail would appear and upset my perspective.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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

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