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1 Burnside Africa- Zimbabwe

Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier

by

Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Best-selling memoirist Alexandra Fuller travels with a strangely charismatic Rhodesian war veteran into a modern-day heart of darkness.

When Alexandra ("Bo") Fuller was home in Zambia a few years ago, visiting her parents for Christmas, she asked her father about a nearby banana farmer who was known for being a "tough bugger." Her father's response was a warning to steer clear of him; he told Bo: "Curiosity scribbled the cat." Nonetheless, Fuller began her strange friendship with the man she calls K, a white African and veteran of the Rhodesian war. With the same fiercely beautiful prose that won her acclaim for Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Fuller here recounts her friendship with K.

K is, seemingly, a man of contradictions: tattooed, battle scarred, and weathered by farm work, he is a lion of a man, feral and bulletproof. Yet he is also a born-again Christian, given to weeping when he recollects his failed romantic life, and more than anything else welling up inside with memories of battle. For his war, like all wars, was a brutal one, marked by racial strife, jungle battles, unimaginable tortures, and the murdering of innocent civilians — and K, like all the veterans of the war, has blood on his hands.

Driven by K's memories, Fuller and K decide to enter the heart of darkness in the most literal way — by traveling from Zambia through Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) and Mozambique to visit the scenes of the war and to meet other veterans. It is a strange journey into the past, one marked at once by somber reflections and odd humor and featuring characters such as Mapenga, a fellow veteran who lives with his pet lion on a little island in the middle of a lake and is known to cope with his personal demons by refusing to speak for days on end. What results from Fuller's journey is a remarkably unbiased and unsentimental glimpse of men who have killed, mutilated, tortured, and scrambled to survive during wartime and who now must attempt to live with their past and live past their sins. In these men, too, we get a glimpse of life in Africa, a land that besets its creatures with pests, plagues, and natural disasters, making the people there at once more hardened and more vulnerable than elsewhere.

Scribbling the Cat is an engrossing and haunting look at war, Africa, and the lines of sanity.

Review:

"Memoirist Fuller (Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight) describes this book, about her friendship with a Rhodesian war veteran, as 'a slither of a slither of a much greater story.' This disclaimer doesn't excuse the book's thinness, as it traces Fuller's journey with the white ex-soldier, K, from his farm in Zambia through Zimbabwe and into Mozambique, to the battlefields of more than two decades ago. Fuller evokes place and character with the vivid prose that distinguished her unflinching memoir of growing up in Africa, but here she handles subject matter that warrants more than artful word painting and soul-searching. Writing about war — its scarred participants, victims and territory — Fuller skimps on the history and politics that have shaped her and her subjects. Her personal enmeshment with K is the story's core. She's enamored of his physical beauty and power, and transfixed by his contradictions: K's capacity for both violence and emotional vulnerability, his anger and generosity, the blood on his hands and the faith he relies on (he's a born-again Christian) to cope with his demons. Fuller becomes K's confessor, and the journey turns into a kind of penance for her complicity, as a white girl in the 1970s, in a war of white supremacy. When K recounts how he tortured an African girl, Fuller swallows nausea and thinks, 'I am every bit that woman's murderer.' Fuller and K embark on their road trip ostensibly for the shell-shocked man to get beyond his 'spooks' and for Fuller to write about it, but this motivation makes for a rather static journey. Photos. (On sale May 10) Forecast: Don't Let's Go received rave reviews, and readers of that book will probably want to read this new one. A 10-city author tour, national review coverage and national media attention will drive interest." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"A worried, restless, and haunted piece of work, tattooed and scarred from beginning to end." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Review:

"[U]nflinching...an extremely powerful book, one that takes readers into a complex, deep-seated, and ongoing conflict and sees through to its heart. Fuller is a truly gifted and insightful writer." Kristine Huntley, Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"[I]n the end, this is a beautiful and powerfully moving account that gives us some insight into the tragedy of Africa today. If curiosity scribbled (that is, killed) the cat, then let yourself be scribbled. Highly recommended." Library Journal

Review:

"One of the strangest, best books ever about the ravages of war." Malcolm Jones, Newsweek

Review:

"Scribbling the Cat may be read as a love story from Africa, baring its own troubled history page by fascinating page...It is Fuller's hallucinatory yet rock-solid narrative that lends Scribbling the Cat its unforgettable power and its vivid, thought provoking charms." Elle

Review:

"Scribbling the Cat is an unflinching look at the scars inflicted by war, but it's also a masterfully written travelogue. Fuller's portrait of the African landscape — where 'the air seemed softly boiling with song' — is so entrancing that her reader yearns to experience it, even as K describes the atrocities it once hosted." Outside Magazine

Synopsis:

With the same fiercely beautiful prose that won her acclaim for Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Fuller describes her trip home to Zambia, where she comes away with a remarkably unbiased and unsentimental glimpse of men who have killed, mutilated, tortured and scrambled to survive during wartime, and who now live with their past.

Synopsis:

When Alexandra ("Bo") Fuller was home in Zambia a few years ago, visiting her parents for Christmas, she asked her father about a nearby banana farmer who was known for being a "tough bugger." Her father's response was a warning to steer clear of him; he told Bo: "Curiosity scribbled the cat." Nonetheless, Fuller began her strange friendship with the man she calls K, a white African and veteran of the Rhodesian war. With the same fiercely beautiful prose that won her acclaim for Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Fuller here recounts her friendship with K.

K is, seemingly, a man of contradictions: tattooed, battle scarred, and weathered by farm work, he is a lion of a man, feral and bulletproof. Yet he is also a born-again Christian, given to weeping when he recollects his failed romantic life, and more than anything else welling up inside with memories of battle. For his war, like all wars, was a brutal one, marked by racial strife, jungle battles, unimaginable tortures, and the murdering of innocent civiliansandmdash;and K, like all the veterans of the war, has blood on his hands.

Driven by K's memories, Fuller and K decide to enter the heart of darkness in the most literal wayandmdash;by traveling from Zambia through Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) and Mozambique to visit the scenes of the war and to meet other veterans. It is a strange journey into the past, one marked at once by somber reflections and odd humor and featuring characters such as Mapenga, a fellow veteran who lives with his pet lion on a little island in the middle of a lake and is known to cope with his personal demons by refusing to speak for days on end. What results from Fuller's journey is a remarkably unbiased and unsentimental glimpse of men who have killed, mutilated, tortured, and scrambled to survive during wartime and who now must attempt to live with their past and live past their sins. In these men, too, we get a glimpse of life in Africa, a land that besets its creatures with pests, plagues, and natural disasters, making the people there at once more hardened and more vulnerable than elsewhere.

Scribbling the Cat is an engrossing and haunting look at war, Africa, and the lines of sanity.

About the Author

Alexandra Fuller was born in England in 1969 and in 1972 she moved with her family to a farm in Rhodesia. After that country's civil war in 1981, the Fullers moved first to Malawi, then to Zambia. Fuller's first book, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, was a national best-seller, a New York Times Notable Book of 2002, and a finalist for the Guardian First Book Award and was chosen the BookSense Best Nonfiction Book of the Year 2002.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781594200168
Subtitle:
Travels with an African Soldier
Author:
Fuller, Alexandra
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Location:
New York
Subject:
Africa
Subject:
Military - General
Subject:
History
Subject:
Essays & Travelogues
Subject:
Veterans
Subject:
Zimbabwe
Subject:
Zambia
Subject:
Africa - South - South Africa
Subject:
Africa - South - General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Series Volume:
107-961
Publication Date:
May 3, 2004
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
b/w photos throughout
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
9.54x5.56x.97 in. 1.02 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Africa » Zimbabwe
History and Social Science » World History » Africa
Travel » Travel Writing » General

Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier Used Hardcover
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Product details 272 pages Penguin Books - English 9781594200168 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Memoirist Fuller (Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight) describes this book, about her friendship with a Rhodesian war veteran, as 'a slither of a slither of a much greater story.' This disclaimer doesn't excuse the book's thinness, as it traces Fuller's journey with the white ex-soldier, K, from his farm in Zambia through Zimbabwe and into Mozambique, to the battlefields of more than two decades ago. Fuller evokes place and character with the vivid prose that distinguished her unflinching memoir of growing up in Africa, but here she handles subject matter that warrants more than artful word painting and soul-searching. Writing about war — its scarred participants, victims and territory — Fuller skimps on the history and politics that have shaped her and her subjects. Her personal enmeshment with K is the story's core. She's enamored of his physical beauty and power, and transfixed by his contradictions: K's capacity for both violence and emotional vulnerability, his anger and generosity, the blood on his hands and the faith he relies on (he's a born-again Christian) to cope with his demons. Fuller becomes K's confessor, and the journey turns into a kind of penance for her complicity, as a white girl in the 1970s, in a war of white supremacy. When K recounts how he tortured an African girl, Fuller swallows nausea and thinks, 'I am every bit that woman's murderer.' Fuller and K embark on their road trip ostensibly for the shell-shocked man to get beyond his 'spooks' and for Fuller to write about it, but this motivation makes for a rather static journey. Photos. (On sale May 10) Forecast: Don't Let's Go received rave reviews, and readers of that book will probably want to read this new one. A 10-city author tour, national review coverage and national media attention will drive interest." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "A worried, restless, and haunted piece of work, tattooed and scarred from beginning to end."
"Review" by , "[U]nflinching...an extremely powerful book, one that takes readers into a complex, deep-seated, and ongoing conflict and sees through to its heart. Fuller is a truly gifted and insightful writer."
"Review" by , "[I]n the end, this is a beautiful and powerfully moving account that gives us some insight into the tragedy of Africa today. If curiosity scribbled (that is, killed) the cat, then let yourself be scribbled. Highly recommended."
"Review" by , "One of the strangest, best books ever about the ravages of war."
"Review" by , "Scribbling the Cat may be read as a love story from Africa, baring its own troubled history page by fascinating page...It is Fuller's hallucinatory yet rock-solid narrative that lends Scribbling the Cat its unforgettable power and its vivid, thought provoking charms."
"Review" by , "Scribbling the Cat is an unflinching look at the scars inflicted by war, but it's also a masterfully written travelogue. Fuller's portrait of the African landscape — where 'the air seemed softly boiling with song' — is so entrancing that her reader yearns to experience it, even as K describes the atrocities it once hosted."
"Synopsis" by , With the same fiercely beautiful prose that won her acclaim for Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Fuller describes her trip home to Zambia, where she comes away with a remarkably unbiased and unsentimental glimpse of men who have killed, mutilated, tortured and scrambled to survive during wartime, and who now live with their past.
"Synopsis" by ,

When Alexandra ("Bo") Fuller was home in Zambia a few years ago, visiting her parents for Christmas, she asked her father about a nearby banana farmer who was known for being a "tough bugger." Her father's response was a warning to steer clear of him; he told Bo: "Curiosity scribbled the cat." Nonetheless, Fuller began her strange friendship with the man she calls K, a white African and veteran of the Rhodesian war. With the same fiercely beautiful prose that won her acclaim for Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Fuller here recounts her friendship with K.

K is, seemingly, a man of contradictions: tattooed, battle scarred, and weathered by farm work, he is a lion of a man, feral and bulletproof. Yet he is also a born-again Christian, given to weeping when he recollects his failed romantic life, and more than anything else welling up inside with memories of battle. For his war, like all wars, was a brutal one, marked by racial strife, jungle battles, unimaginable tortures, and the murdering of innocent civiliansandmdash;and K, like all the veterans of the war, has blood on his hands.

Driven by K's memories, Fuller and K decide to enter the heart of darkness in the most literal wayandmdash;by traveling from Zambia through Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) and Mozambique to visit the scenes of the war and to meet other veterans. It is a strange journey into the past, one marked at once by somber reflections and odd humor and featuring characters such as Mapenga, a fellow veteran who lives with his pet lion on a little island in the middle of a lake and is known to cope with his personal demons by refusing to speak for days on end. What results from Fuller's journey is a remarkably unbiased and unsentimental glimpse of men who have killed, mutilated, tortured, and scrambled to survive during wartime and who now must attempt to live with their past and live past their sins. In these men, too, we get a glimpse of life in Africa, a land that besets its creatures with pests, plagues, and natural disasters, making the people there at once more hardened and more vulnerable than elsewhere.

Scribbling the Cat is an engrossing and haunting look at war, Africa, and the lines of sanity.

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