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Us isturbing and even sincerely moving tales is a well measured mix of strange and familiar styles as well as content It often feels rather The Peoples Songs direct and matter of fact while at the same time maintains a wonderful sense of linguistic playfulness a willingness to conjure up a uniue splicing ofescriptions from something as subtle as an eye catching word here and there to the melding of certain sensations and happenings that never would ve crossed your mind but luckily crossed the author s This is also thoroughly contemporary writing that makes unselfconscious reference to modern products and slang and even a City of Big Shoulders dash of *actual Instant Messaging which all feels completely organic and to emphasize Messaging which all feels completely and to emphasize again unselfconscious While reading and making mental notes one uote from a David Foster Wallace interview kept coming to mind when thinking about the book on a purely stylistic level I ve always thought of myself as a realist I can remember fighting with my professors about it in grad school The world that I live in consists of 250 advertisements aay and any number of unbelievably entertaining options most of which are subsidized by corporations that want to sell me things The whole way that the world acts on my nerve endings is bound up with stuff that the guys with leather patches on their elbows would consider pop or trivial or ephemeral I use a fair amount of pop stuff in my fiction but what I mean by it is nothing Blind Devotion (The Shifter Chronicles different than what other people mean in writing about trees and parks and having to walk to the river to get water a 100 years ago It s just the texture of the world I live inSo I m not going toivulge anything terribly specific but here s a rundown of a few stories with a self imposed limit of one My Name is Bob descriptive sentence each There s a story about what happens when a young boyresses as Hitler for his grade school Halloween Party without coordinating this ecision with someone who may ve planned to on an Anne Frank costume There s a story about what happens when people bring their pets to the workplace and their pets are bees that cling to their owner s face A story in which the matriarch of a family has a rather unorthodox Billy Bragg definition of what constitutes a fancy meal prepared once a week to break up the monotony of Hot Pockets and Hamburger Helper Sometimes a third shift in a frozen pea factory is than it seems What would Bring Your Father To School Day be like for a father like Ted Bundy There s one standout called Civilization which severely turns the concepts of theraft and of killing for God and Country on their asses One in which the lines between computer code and poetry are called into uestion plus there s Polly Prices Totally Secret Diary drugs and cancer A confessional from a flautist who loses his girlfriend to a Storm of Horses A shocking tale which consciously bounces ideas off of the film Glenngary Glen Ross but also integrates binging and purging in a McDonald s play area and a home invasion akin to A Clockwork Orange And the final one is another wonderful portrait of grade school youth plus nerds plus suicide This is a fabulously entertaining book Just read it already I originally gave this two stars because Iidn t really enjoy this book But then I thought about how I ve been pondering this book for ays now how I can t ecide 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 So I figure if the book makes me think about it for The Majors Daughter days then that makes it good in and of itself even if Iidn t necessarily like it Not that I Miss Shumway Waves a Wand disliked it but I certainlyidn t love it Still I ve found myself The Touch describing this book to people andiscussing it which I ordinarily On His Majestys Service don t reallyo with the books I m reading It s not one that leaves the brain uietly I Different Class d recommend it if only to get other peoples takes on this one A fun collection of short stories in the same vein as George Saunders or a less verbose David Foster Wallace The surreal uality thrown into these stories that mainlyeal with everyday life in modern society works incredibly well Where the idea of child bei 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. 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 The Essential Good Food Guide debut collection He speaks to a generation that has tried to seemisaffected 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. The Littlest Hitler StoriesTextbook of Wisdom decided theifference between 4 and 5 stars is actually my mood I am in *a four star mood currently but I have ecided to give this book *four star mood currently but I have ecided to give this book 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 ifferent 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 things happening it must be Seattle The stories are fun and read uickly but they still leave you with something which I find most short stories have trouble oing being that they are forgotten as fast as they are read This book is fun Read it now 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 The City in Mind design And the writing Funark 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 Revenge (The Red Ledger delved in to them yet But I love these sorts of stories Hilarious but terrifying like terrorists in clown costumes on Halloweenon t worry that one is only two pages long I would have liked back story No One Wants You 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 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 andetached 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 OkaaaayYou know how John Waters often feels pretty ick just for ick s sake Like that sorta Still not a bad read though I think Boudinot can The City Of Heavenly Tranquillity definitely write and he s often funny but this short story collection justoesn 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 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 I Penguins Poems for Life 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 livesoing Bee Beard was a good example Plus I am afraid of bees so the whole story was very freakyFinished this up today and I was genuinely impressed with this collection The only low point for me was the short short Absolut Boudinot It wasn t funnyscathing enough to justify its inclusion I felt that maybe the publisher was pushing the author to include a certain number of pieces so he just threw that inOther than that brief isappointment I loved this collection so much that I m upgrading my rating to 5 stars The narrative voices were varied each story felt istinct from the others Some of them had a little po mo gimmickry which I enjoy 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 id in his review I can tell you that the 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 work with a be. 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 angling from his grinning face But on Bette though Our account manager for igital media I wasn't even aware she raised bees Welcome to the world of Ryan Boudinot where a little boy ,

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Ard made of bees One of the most appealing things about these surreal stories is how casual his tone is when he tells them It s emphasis through understatement The absurdities were not shouted There was no laugh track They were simply offered up in a straight faced unimpassioned way as part of an otherwise standard narrativeNot all his stories embraced the bizarre In fact the first one might have been taken from the David Sedaris playbook conventional observational humor though to my mind Boudinot s was hipper and funnier Another one I enjoyed one about the Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone dynamic between two couples who came to realize they grown apart kept mostly within the real world too To be honest the surreal stories for me were hit or miss Even though the intended targets of his extrapolations were usually clear I Down to the Sea in Ships didn t always view his absurdities as responses to anywhere we re actually heading For instance what social ill would be addressed by having 18 year olds view spoilerkilling their parents as part of a government sanctioned program hide spoiler Ren Magritte and David Lynch These are two signifiers that point towards a general sometimes hazilyefined aesthetic that I absolutely adore and conseuently happen to run into every once and a while When I find something that gives me that feeling I freuently 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 ubiuitous cultural touchstones An attempt to relay my reactions to this book beyond a bunch of variations of I loved it It was weird is one such occasion in which I ll initiate this heretofore narrated alignment of my thoughts by Wife by Wednesday (The Weekday Brides, diagonally intersecting them at Magritte St and Lynch Ln This book exudes My Kind of Surrealism It s the kind of stuff that s rooted just enough in the real world for its strikingly unreal elements to really pack a wallop in a way that feels paradoxically subtle and monumental all at once Think about some of the less overtly fucked up elements of a David Lynch film Cross theream seuences from Twin Peaks off of your list and replace them with some of the unnatural ialogue instead Shoo the Club Silencio scene in Mulholland Drive from your Mind And Replace It With and replace it with scene in which Naomi Watts is first auditioning for an acting role Et cetera et ceteraNow think of the ifferences between the paintings of Salvador Dal and those of the superior in my opinion Belgian brush wielder Ren Magritte EgSalvador Dal Temptation of Anthony 1946Ren Magritte La Reproduction Interdite 1937Salvador Dal Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around *A Pomegranate A Second *Pomegranate a Second Awakening 1944Ren Magritte La Dur e poignard e Time Transfixed 1938This book is Magritte than Dal More restrained Lynchian oddness than say the non stop over the top surrealistic bludgeoning of a flick like Holy Mountain or the earliest reels of Luis Bu uel namely something like Un Chien Andalou The power of this preferable kind of surrealism lies in the juxtapositions of the ordinary and the extraordinary Or to reiterate a favorite phrase the origins of which are apparently unclear to make the strange appear familiar and to make the familiar appear strange The Littlest Hitler has this uality in spadesAnother analogy I m thinking of as a useful explanatory heuristic to further illustrate what I meant by paradoxically subtle and monumental all at once is the causal relationship between the microscopic level of genes and the macroscopic level of organisms like human beings A small change on one level is a big change on another yet each so strongly correlates with one another that in some heady confusing way they re one and the same Ok So the bookIt s a bit Chain of Fire difficult knowing how to go about reviewing this book On one hand I love to share specifics but on the other I feel like all of the notable The Devils Elbow (Mrs. Bradley, details I want to share would be spoilers in the worst sense Most of these stories involve at least one moment in which something extremely unusual juts out through the narrative which was humming along pleasantly andor normally enough only to be looked over in an oblivious or matter of fact way by the narrative voice andor the characters all of which strongly recalls the awkward nervous laughter inducing way that the characters often interact with each other in Lynch s films carrying on indifferent to the most bizarre of elephants grazing in the roomThe prose that constructs these perfectly hilario. Ho innocently resses up as Hitler for Halloween suffers the conseuences The Littlest Hitler; a world where a typical office romance is estroyed 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 reuired to kill off their parents preferably with an ice pick in order to be accepted to the college of their choice Civilization You may.

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