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 icepick—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.
The Littlest Hitler
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"The funniest, most engaging, and original new voice I've read in a long time. Boudinot's stories are a joy." —Stephen Elliot, author of The Adderall Diaries
RYAN BOUDINOT received an M.F.A. from Bennington College, where he studied with Rick Moody and Amy Hempel. He is a former Yaddo resident, and his work has been featured in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2003 and 2005, Nerve, McSweeney’s, and Black Book. He lives in Seattle, where he works at Amazon.com as an editor on the Media team.
“The funniest, most engaging, and original new voice I’ve read in a long time. Boudinot’s stories are a joy.” —Stephen Elliot, author of The Adderall Diaries