Title: Basic Training.
Author: Kurt Vonnegut.
Genre: Fiction, literature, bildensgroman, novella, romance, satire, teen, social criticism.
Publication Date: Written in 1940s (published posthumously in 2012).
Summary: A bitter, profoundly disenchanted story which satirizes the military, authoritarianism, gender relationships, parenthood, and most of the assumed mid-century myths of the family. Haley Brandon, the adolescent protagonist, comes to the farm of his relative, the old crazy who insists upon being called The General, to learn to be a straight-shooting American. Haley’s only means of survival will lead him to unflagging defiance of the General’s deranged (but oh so American, oh so military) values.
My rating: 7.5/10.
♥ At 2 a.m. Central Standard Time, as reckoned by the parlor mantel clock in the home of Brigadier General William Cooley, retired, a light beam left the burning sun. At 2:08 it glanced from the lip of the moon crater, and a second later died on earth, in the staring eyes of Haley Brandon.
Haley lay sleepless between cool sheets, his thin arms folded behind his head, his eyes fixed on the window through which the wistful moonlight streamed. He felt wholly a stranger. None of the old, seemingly sweetly reasonable patterns of the past now applied. He was not actively melancholy - it was too soon for that. Rather, he was like a settler on his first day in a foreign land, bemused by his initial contacts with unfamiliar customs, not yet ready to admit that it would be those customs instead of his own that would enable him to remain and prosper.
♥ “Leave Banghart to me. I’d feel safer locked in a phone booth with him than I would knowing one of you was on the prowl with this cannon. Guns and women can make an atom bombing look like an ice-cream social,” he declared. “Only this morning I read a story in the paper about a woman who shot her husband, the cat, and the water-softener because she thought she heard suspicious noises downstairs.” Haley searched the paper for this fascinating item, but he was unable to find anything like it.
♥ He started to pick up a checker piece, but threw it down again and marched through the now-empty kitchen and into the night. Her words rang in his ears, but he did not consciously consider them. He felt only the urge to walk away, to lose himself in darkness, to cleanse himself in silence.