The Littlest Hitler: Stories

by Ryan Boudinot

Paperback, 2007





Counterpoint, (2007)


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.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member charisjoy
The first story in this collection, "The Littlest Hitler", is an oddly heart-warming story about a kid that dresses up as Hitler for Halloween. The premise itself is unexpected but the characters seem to deal with this unusual event as you honestly would expect them to. Every other story in the collection deals with similarly unexpected premises but the characters do not respond accordingly. The author seems to feel that his creativity can stop at coming up with slightly ridiculous but not wholly unheard of premises and does not need to extend to the other elements of the story. I get what he's going for- take a normal suburban family with the normal problems but add a twist by making the mom a cannibal. I get that he's trying to break us out of our status quo. But after five or six of the stories, you realize that there's nothing to his fiction and to his writing prowess other than the unexpected premise. The stories start to feel like exasperated formulas.… (more)
LibraryThing member urthona73
I generally enjoy books that I would call part of the New Weird, which some of the stories in this book could be considered (depending on the definition), but the stories I enjoyed the most were the ones that had the least amount of fantasy in them, like "So Little Time" and "Newholly". There's definitely horror in both of these stories, but its a sort of everyday horror. In general, the rest of the stories in the collection are well-written, but these two stories in particular made me hope that he pursues the same vein for material in the future.… (more)
LibraryThing member RatSoup
Some pretty humorous short stories.
LibraryThing member donp
No, I didn't just give this five stars just 'cos. I was debating between 3 and 4 stars, actually--there were a couple of stories whose endings really fell flat for me. The tale "So Little Time" pushed this collection over the top, because I remember being twelve years old and a Doctor Who fan, trying to cobble a Tom Baker costume together. I was the sort of dungeon master who designed traps like placing a Trapper underneath a Lurker Above just for those annoying player friends of mine whose characters did have names like The Annihilator and have a trillion hit points. Boudinot wrote about that world in much the same way Barry Hannah wrote about the South, with a voice that's spare, full of momentum, and very aware.… (more)
LibraryThing member Alfonso809
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!
LibraryThing member HarvReviewer
Ryan Boudinot boasts an MFA from Bennington College and works as an editor at His first short story collection combines his literary sensibility with a keen eye for the oddities of contemporary American society.

The stories in The Littlest Hitler veer between those set in a recognizable world and others that take place in some dystopian future. The former category features "Sex and Relationships," where the tensions between two childless young couples, friendly on the surface, are peeled back until a shocking secret is revealed. The latter includes "The Sales Team," which involves a group of murderous salesmen whose only product seems to be a talent for terrorizing their customers. In the title story, a fourth-grader appears for the school Halloween party dressed as Adolf Hitler, only to be confronted by a classmate dressed as Anne Frank. Boudinot's gift lies in his ability to move beyond the shock value of the story's premise to offer a tender account of a single father's fumbling effort to help his son.

Fans of the short fiction of George Saunders will find a kindred spirit in the writing of Boudinot and they'll no doubt be waiting eagerly for more of his offbeat take on American life.
… (more)
LibraryThing member booklove2
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 Saunders, Sharma Shields, Lydia Millet, Julia Elliott, Karen Russell, Helen Oyeyemi, Kevin Wilson... I'm sure I'm not recalling MANY of these sorts of writers at the moment, or haven't delved in to them yet. But I love these sorts of stories. Hilarious but terrifying, like terrorists in clown costumes on Halloween (don't worry, that one is only two pages long.) I would have liked more back-story detail with some of these stories, like 'Civilization'. But I noticed my favorite stories in this collection are usually the stories with kids because he writes them really well and nostalgically, so my favorites: The Littlest Hitler, So Little Time, Blood Relatives, and Newholly are the top four, but I love most of these stories. I bet Mr. Boudinot really loved Jean Shepherd's Christmas Story. Please write more!… (more)
LibraryThing member Djupstrom
One great story, one good story, and a bunch of mediocre ones.


Original language



Page: 0.7805 seconds