Welcome to an uneasy future
Ryan Boudinot boasts an MFA from Bennington College and works as an editor at Amazon.com. 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. Harvey Freedenberg writes from Pennsylvania.