The Littlest Hitler: Stories
“The Littlest Hitler”
“The Littlest Hilter” is from Ryan Boudinot’s debut collection The Littlest Hitler: Stories (Counterpoint Press), a Publishers Weekly Book of the Year. He is also the author of the novel Misconception, a finalist for the PEN/USA Literary Award. His stories have appeared in McSweeney’s, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Monkeybicycle, Opium, Hobart, and elsewhere. He lives in Seattle.
Benjamin Jacob Hollars, writing in Bookslut, said: Reading Ryan Boudinot’s short story collection, The Littlest Hitler, is a little like stuffing your mouth with Pop Rocks and waiting for the explosion. It’s a little like dismantling a bomb. It’s like inhabiting a world where your brain is in your foot, your heart in your elbow, and yet you remain confident that you are anatomically correct while the world around you is horribly deformed. For everything that it is, what it is not, is a normal reading experience.
Take the title story, in which a young boy, on Halloween night, quite innocently dresses as Hitler – moustache and all – and must face the consequences of his actions. Boudinot’s humor is quick, dark, and biting.
What we know for certain is that Boudinot’s tales are packed with boys and men who know nothing of the boundaries or decorum which the world demands. Sometimes they dress as Hitler and have no qualms about standing next to the girl dressed as Anne Frank. Sometimes drug store owners, in an effort at customer service, pop patron’s pimples and make it their business to call customers at home to remind them it’s time to buy a new toothbrush. Yet it is this blind disregard for rules which transports these slightly absurdist stories into the realm of believability.
Rarely do I use the phrase, “best short story collection I’ve read in awhile,” though I think the bravery and confidence with which Boudinot writes makes The Littlest Hilter a contender.