Into the War by Italo Calvino
Set in Italy in the summer of 1940, this trio of stories explores the relationships between the different generations caught up in the war as well as Calvino's own experiences as a teenager. In the title story, 'Into the War', we are given an insight into what life was really like for those too young to be conscripted into Mussolini's army, while in 'The Avanguardisti in Menton', Calvino and his friends take a revealingly anti-climactic trip to the garrisoned French town of Menton, the sole Italian conquest of the early months of the conflict. The final story, 'UNPA Nights', is a touching, comic tale of friendship in a blackout, where the narrator's imagination wanders as he roams through the seedier parts of the darkened town instead of guarding the school buildings.
Into the War is Calvino at his autobiographical best, combining brilliantly recollected memory with compelling wit and perfect prose.