DRUM AND BUGLE by Terence Fugate


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This is Fugate's first novel and first piece of published writing. It's a long (or does it only seem that way?), heavily detailed book about life in a southern military academy and the stormy adolescence of Carl Roundtree. MacFarland Military Academy in Georgia, near Atlanta, is owned by a fatuous, aged health faddist and staffed with few exceptions, by a collection of neurotic misfits and incompetents. The novel is an account of Carl's senior year at MacFarland interspersed with events in his home town in Florida where his father is mayor. Carl is an intelligent boy but a poor student and something of a problem. MacFarland is his second military school chosen at his status-conscious father's insistence because of its inexplicable high rating. Always on the verge of being expelled, his thoughts are occupied, alternately, by the continual battle fought between the officers and students, sex, and the demerit system. When Carl becomes involved in difficulties -- academic and extra-curricular, it's not his father he turns to but his uncle Joe, a mathematics professor who believes in Carl's potential and encourages him to enter Vanderbilt University after graduation. Eventually MacFarland proves too much for Carl: unjustly accused, he strikes a teacher and runs away. He finishes the school year in Florida but on graduation night he argues violently with his father and leaves home. Supposedly wiser and more mature, Carl heads for university life comforted by the assurance that the break with his father is not irrevocable and that, figuratively at least, he can go home again. To tell this ordinary story about an unexceptional young man the author taxes the reader beyond tedium by a sheer mass of detail which excludes none of the minutiae of his hero's life and includes all of MacFarland's sordid and seamy aspects. It is, in fact, the author's concentration on bedroom/bathroom obscenities that the publishers commend as a ""selling point"".

Pub Date: Jan. 11th, 1960
Publisher: Simon & Schuster