Synopses & Reviews
Ryan Boudinot's story collection The Littlest Hitler
was an Amazon.com and Publishers Weekly Book of the Year choice, and established him as one of the most promising talents of a new generation of American writers. With Misconception
, Boudinot has delivered a startlingly original debut novel — on one hand a smart and provocative coming-of-age story, on the other a fresh and witty comment on the unreliability of memory and storytelling — that is sure to command attention.
Cedar Rivers is on a strange errand. A doctor sidelined into the strange world of the first dot-com boom, he has come to Albany, New York, in between business in Iceland and home in Silicon Valley, to meet a woman he hasn't seen in twenty years. Then a Chuck Taylor-shod proto-Goth with chipped black nail polish, Kat is now a literary up-and-comer who has summoned him to Albany to vet her memoir — an account of the summer they were sweethearts. As if that weren't enough, she's written parts of it from his point of view. Through an intense weekend in a snowed-in motel room, Cedar and Kat relive their most painful memories: Before they had a chance at first love, Kat's mother and her new fiance dragged Kat off on a family sailing trip. Kat returned with a secret, one which — when she shared it with Cedar — set off a series of drastically miscalculated assumptions that dominoed into a moment of startling tragedy.
A tender, absurd, and heartbreaking novel about the unintended consequences of first love and bad judgment, Misconception slyly questions the way we narrate our memories and assign culpability. With a sharp eye for human foibles and a trenchant cleverness that dances off the page, Ryan Boudinot announces himself as a young writer who is here to stay.
"A breezy, humorous first novel from Boudinot (after his collection, The Littlest Hitler) chronicles the awkward coming-of-age of a boy whose middle-school crush entwines him into the girl's dysfunctional family. Cedar Rivers is first introduced when he brings in his own semen for inspection under the microscope in eighth-grade science class, a stunt that impresses incipient beauty Kat Daniels. Groping summer sexual experiments ensue and are cut short as Kat has to spend a month traveling with her mom and her mom's creepy new boyfriend, George. When Kat returns pregnant, George is the assumed suspect. Boudinot is not overly concerned by this flimsy plot, managing to inject textual interest by alternating the narrative in the voices of first Cedar then Kat, whom Cedar meets with 20 years later to sign a waiver regarding the memoir she's about to publish. There are ironic, tongue-in-cheek moments ('Ryan Boudinot' is the name of a critic who reviewed Kat's first book), perhaps to remind the reader not to take any of this too seriously especially the over-the-top ending while Boudinot provides moments of gossamer prose. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A coming-of-age-with-a-vengeance tale.... Boudinot captures the confusing and sex-driven nature of adolescence...while addressing issues of poverty, child abuse, and the foibles of memory." Library Journal
"Boffo comedy and compassionate attention to everyday familial and sexual boondoggles are almost perfectly blended in this zesty first novel from button-pushing Boudinot." Kirkus Reviews
"Misconception takes on the question of truth in storytelling...with a sensitivity and intelligence that is truly moving, and a sense of humor that...will warm your cockles." Charles Bock
"Most of Boudinot's descriptions act in reverse: the reader says not, 'that's common and therefore dull,' but 'that's common, but I didn't know it even existed.' The old is both familiar and new, and that is one of this book's — and any good book's — most satisfying gifts." Kristin Thiel, The Oregonian
(read the entire Oregonian review
The author of the story collection The Littlest Hitler delivers a startlingly original debut novel — on one hand a smart and provocative coming-of-age story, on the other a fresh and witty comment on the unreliability of memory and storytelling.
About the Author
Ryan Boudinot's work has appeared in Dave Eggers's Best American Nonrequired Reading 2003 and 2005, McSweeney's, BlackBook, and Nerve. He blogs about film on the Web site therumpus.net.