Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier

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9781594200168: Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier
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The best-selling author of Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight details her unique friendship with a banana farmer, one of her parents' neighbors in Zambia, a white African, veteran of the Rhodesian war, and born-again Christian, and their mutual odyssey back in time through Africa to revisit scenes of the war, meet other veterans, and come to terms with the horrors of warfare. 80,000 first printing. First serial, The New Yorker.

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Review:

Thomas Wolfe's trusted axiom about not being able to go home again gets a compelling spin through the African veldt in Alexandra Fuller's Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier. Fuller (Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight : An African Childhood) journeys through modern Zambia, to battlefields in Zimbabwe and Mozambique with the scarred veteran of the Rhodesian Wars she identifies only as "K." Intrigued by the mysterious neighbor of her parent's Zambian fish farm and further enticed by her father's warning that "curiosity scribbled the cat" ("scribbling" is Afrikaans slang for "killing"), Fuller embarks on a journey that covers as much cratered psychic landscape as it does African bush country. Though she and "K" are both African by family roots rather than blood, she quickly discovers that 30 years of civil war have scarred them--and the indigenous peoples they encounter--in markedly different ways. "K" is a figure of monumental tragedy, a decent man torn by war-fueled rage, a failed marriage, and painful memories of an only son lost to tropical disease. His adopted Christianity offers him only partial absolution, and Fuller details his gut-wrenching confessions of quarter-century old atrocities with compassion and rare insight. Her prose liberally salted with a rich, melange of Afrikaans and local Shona slang, Fuller nonetheless struggles with a narrative whose turns are often unexpected, yet driven by humanity. There's a clear sense that the author's fitful journey into the past with "K" has opened as many wounds as it has healed, and spawned more questions than it has answered. It's that discomfort and frustration that often reinforces the honesty of her prose--and reinforces Thomas Wolfe's adage yet again. --Jerry McCulley

About the Author:

ALEXANDRA FULLER was born in England in 1969. In 1972, she moved with her family to a farm in southern Africa. She lived in Africa until her midtwenties. In 1994, she moved to Wyoming. She has three children.

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