As with most students, I was made to read quite a few books during my middle and high school years. For the most part, I really enjoyed this part of my school experience, especially when the books happened to fall into one of the genres I was interested in.
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank takes place in a post-apocalyptic world and, from what I remember, is mostly from the point of view of a young boy.
Now, I don’t remember anything about why it was a post-apocalyptic world, who this young boy was, or what else happened in the book. I only remember two things.
The first is that, when I envisioned the world in which this boy lived, I always imagined the trailer park my family lived in when I was child. Now, I know you’ll be thinking, wtf a trailer park?? What are you? But this was some kind of really nice trailer park–like suburbia, except you happened to have a trailer. It came complete with a concrete patio with an awning, a storage shed, and really nice, stand up neighbors for the most part. The kind of place where retirees who happen to enjoy travel live during the winter (because it’s Florida). And, in fact, most of our next door neighbors were, in fact, older Canadian couples who did, indeed, only reside in their trailers during the winter.
For whatever reason, the main character lived in my family’s trailer. And during the part about the radio (whenever in the book that was), he was hanging out across the street in the trailer of our Canadian neighbor who grew passion flower vines. I don’t know why–I suppose my young mind had a limited number of locations to pull from.
The second, and more important thing, that I remember about this book is what the main character’s father told him about guns. I distinctly remember this dialogue, and it’s the only dialogue I remember from the book. The main character’s father told him that you never draw a gun unless you intend to aim, and you never aim a gun unless you intend to shoot.
For whatever reason, this line affected me deeply when I read it, and it has stuck with me for decades.
I recently purchased a copy of Alas, Babylon with the intention of reading it again. I’ll be interested to see how much of it I remember.