Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier

Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier

by Alexandra Fuller

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Overview

Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier by Alexandra Fuller

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143035015
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/26/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 844,050
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 - 17 Years

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 received a B.A. from Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada. She is the author of Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, a national bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book of 2002, and a finalist for the Guardian First Book Award, and Scribbling the Cat, winner of the 2005 Ulysses Award for Art of Reportage. Fuller lives in Wyoming with her husband and children.

Hometown:

Wilson, Wyoming

Date of Birth:

March 29, 1969

Place of Birth:

Glossop, Derbyshire, England

Education:

B. A., Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada, 1992

Read an Excerpt

Uncharacteristic Sole Flood

BECAUSE IT IS THE LAND that grew me, and because they are my people, I sometimes forget to be astonished by Africans.

But I was astonished, almost to death, when I met K.

For a start, K was not what I expected to see here.

Not here, where the elevation rises just a few feet above ennui and where even the Goba people-the people who are indigenous to this area-look displaced by their own homes, like refugees who are trying to flee their place of refuge. And where the Tonga people-the nation that was shifted here in the 1950s, when the colonial government flooded them out of their ancestral valley to create Lake Kariwa-look unrequitedly vengeful and correspondingly despondent. And where everyone else looks like a refugee worker; sweat-drained, drunk, malarial, hungover, tragic, recently assaulted.

Down here, even those who don't go looking for trouble are scarred from the accidents of Life that stagger the otherwise uninterrupted tedium of heat and low-grade fever: boils, guns, bandit attacks, crocodiles, insect bites. No ripped edge of skin seems to close properly in this climate. Babies die too young and with unseemly haste.

If you count my parents and K, there are maybe two dozen people-out of a total population of about sixty thousand-who have voluntarily moved to the Sole Valley from elsewhere. That's if you don't count the occasional, evaporating aid workers who slog out this far from hope and try to prevent the villagers from losing their lives with such apparent carelessness. And if you don't count the Italian nuns at the mission hospital who are here as the result of a calling from God (more like an urgent shriek, I have no doubt).

Sole Valley is a V-shaped slot of goat-dusted scrub between the Chabija and Pepani Rivers in eastern Zambia. The town of Sole has metastasized off the cluster of buildings that make up the border post between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It consists of customs and immigration buildings, a (new and very smart) police station, an enormous tarmac parking lot for trucks, and a series of shabby tin and reed shacks that billow tarpaulins or plastic sheeting in a feeble protest against rain or dust and that offer for sale black market sugar, cooking oil, salt, mealie meal, and bread.

welcome to sole, says the sign. speed kills, condoms save.

People at the border post climb out of their cars and you see them looking around and you can hear them thinking, Save me from what?

Guinea fowl destined for a torturous journey into someone's pot clatter from their bush-tambo baskets, "Nkanga, nkanga!" and the Heuglin's robins call from the dust-coated shrubs, "It's-up-to-you, it's-up-to-you, up-to-you, UP-TO-YOU."

Truck drivers in diesel-stained undershirts slouch in the shade of brothels and taverns, suffocating their boredom with women, beer, and cigarettes. A sign dangling above the shelves of one tavern, whose wares include not only beer and cigarettes but also condoms and headache pills, asks, have you come to solve my problems or to multiply them? Prostitutes lounge from trucker to trucker, casually soliciting in a hip-sliding sly way that hides their urgency. It's a deadly business. Cutthroat and throat-cut. Girls as young as twelve will sell themselves to the long-haul truckers for as little as a meal or a bar of soap.

In the shade of a shack that advertises max barbers arc welding and battery charge now open, a truck yawns and surveys its parts, which are vomited greasily on the ribbed earth in front of it, while a young man in a shiny nylon soccer shirt has his hair braided into porcupine spikes by a woman with deft fingers.

And next to a sign that says relax & discus restarunt we sale shima & tea, two women from the Watchtower Society sit out in the sun with their legs stretched out in front of them, stern in their reproachfully white robes. They drink Coke and eat cakes of fried mealie meal.

There are, in Africa, many more glamorous and inhabitable addresses than this low sink of land on the edge of perpetual malaria. Scratch the surface of anyone who has voluntarily come to this place-and who is unguardedly drunk at the time-and you will invariably uncork a wellspring of sorrow or a series of supremely unfortunate events and, very often, both.

Scratch-and-sniff.

Stiff upper lips crack at the edge of the bar, and tears spill and waves of unaccustomed emotion swallow whole brandy-and-Coke-smelling days. These tidal waves of sadness and hopeless nostalgia (not the hankering for a happy, irretrievable past, but the much worse sensation of regret for a past that is unbearably sad and irrevocably damaged) are more prevalent when the heat gets too much or when Christmas creeps around and soaks the senses with the memory of all that was once promising and hopeful about life. And then tight tongues grow soft with drink and the unavoidable sadness of the human condition is debated in ever decreasing circles until it sits on the shoulders of each individual in an agonizingly concentrated lump. Eventually someone drinks himself sober and declares that life is short and vicious and unveeringly cruel, and perhaps it's best not to talk about it.

The hangovers from these drunken confessions of titanic misery (aborted marriages, damaging madness, dead children, lost wars, unmade fortunes) last nine or ten months, during which time no one really talks about anything, until the pressure of all the unhappiness builds up again to breaking point and there is another storm of heartbreaking confessions.

But K, perfectly sober and in the bright light of morning, volunteered his demons to me, almost immediately. He hoisted them up for my inspection, like gargoyles grinning and leering from the edge of a row of pillars. And I was too curious-too amazed-to look the other way.

It bloody nearly killed me.

THE YEAR THAT I went home from Wyoming to Zambia for Christmas-the year I met K-it had been widely reported by the international press that there was a drought in the whole region. A drought that had started by eating the crops in Malawi and Zimbabwe and had gone on to inhale anything edible in Zambia and Mozambique. It was a drought that didn't stop gorging until it fell into the sea, bloated with the dust of a good chunk of the lower half of Africa's belly.

News teams from all around the world came to take pictures of starving Africans and in the whole of central and southern Africa they couldn't find people more conveniently desperate-by which I mean desperate and close to both an international airport and a five-star hotel-than the villagers who live here. So they came with their cameras and their flak jackets and their little plastic bottles of hand sanitizer and took pictures of these villagers who were (as far as the villagers themselves were concerned) having an unusually fat year on account of unexpected and inexplicably generous local rain and the sudden, miraculous arrival of bags and bags of free food, which (in truth) they could use every year, not only when the rest of Africa suffered.

The television producers had to ask the locals-unused to international attention-to stop dancing and ululating in front of the camera. Couldn't they try to look subdued?

"Step away from the puddles."

Rain slashed down and filming had to stop. The sun came out and the world steamed a virile, exuberant green. The Sole Valley looked disobediently-at least from the glossy distance of videotape-like the Okavango Swamps. Women and children gleamed. Goats threatened to burst their skins. Even the donkeys managed to look fortunate and plump. In a place where it is dry for nine months at a stretch, even the slightest breath of rain can be landscape-altering and can briefly transform the people into an impression of tolerable health.

"Explain to them that this is for their own good. God knows, I am not doing this for my entertainment."

If the television crews had wanted misery, they had only to walk a few meters off the road and into the nearest huts, where men, women, and children hang like damp chickens over long drops losing their lives through their frothing bowels. But HIV/ AIDS is its own separate documentary.

Life expectancy in this dry basin of land has just been officially reduced to thirty-three. How do you film an absence? How do you express in pictures the disappearance of almost everyone over the age of forty?

"Please ask those young boys to look hungry."

The young boys obligingly thrust their hips at the camera and waggled pink tongues at the director.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Scribbling the Cat"
by .
Copyright © 2005 Alexandra Fuller.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Searing, at times intoxicating prose... striking, intimately revealing..." —The Washington Post

"Scribbling the Cat defies easy definition . . . [a] wild-hearted beauty of a book." —O, The Oprah Magazine

"[Scribbling the Cat] is no more a simple profile of an ex-soldier than Fuller's first book, the acclaimed bestseller Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, was merely a memoir of growing up.... The story catches fire." —Newsweek

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION
Those of us who grow in war are like clay pots fired in an oven that is overhot. Confusingly shaped like the rest of humanity, we nevertheless contain fatal cracks that we spend the rest of our lives itching to fill (p. 250).

Scribbling the Cat is the story of a quest—a journey to understand the realities of a long-ago war, to measure its costs, and, perhaps, to find some kind of redemption. It is also the story of an odd friendship, an extended courtship between a writer looking for answers and a charismatic ex-soldier looking for a second chance. Set in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique, it is at once a sharply observed portrait of life in contemporary southern Africa and a universal story of war and survival, friendship and love, trust and deceit, hope and disillusion.

Alexandra “Bobo” Fuller encounters her soldier, K, while visiting her family’s fish farm in Zambia over the Christmas holidays. A veteran of the Rhodesian civil war, the physically imposing K is not only profane, funny, and charming, but shockingly candid, openly emotional, and deeply religious. Bobo’s curiosity is piqued: he seems the perfect subject for a writer whose girlhood had been scrambled by the war and who still has nightmares about it. Though her father warns her that “curiosity scribbled the cat,” she pursues a friendship with K—a friendship that will eventually take her to Mozambique, where K had spent five years killing guerillas during the war.

And what does K see in Bobo? Though married, she is one of the few white women to come to his small corner of Zambia, and she is intensely interested in his life and his stories of war, even after he shows her the house he is building on his banana plantation for “a very special woman” that he is sure God will send him. So it is not surprising that he agrees to go with her to Mozambique. She will write about it; he will get over his bad memories, his “spooks.”

In the trip to Mozambique, however, K’s demons do not flee. Instead, they reveal themselves. He talks about the exhilaration of combat, the adrenaline rush that marks the moment of attack. He recounts his trials with God and the devil and confesses to a stomach-churning act of torture. And he breaks down, imagining he’s being hunted by a pack of wild dogs, a flashback to an incident during the war. By the time he and Bobo meet up with K’s old comrade-in-arms Mapenga, K’s emotions are raw and his feelings dangerously off-kilter. A boozy house party, a hike through the one of the war’s most notorious killing fields, and Mapenga’s amorous attentions toward Bobo are all it takes for him to snap and destroy Bobo’s notes, film, and tapes. He had wanted her, she wanted his story, and each feels betrayed.

“Tortured, angry, aggressive, lost.” This is how Bobo describes K. Yet at the end, he remains someone who commands our respect and sympathy, a “man who needed to sort out his own shit” and who gave Bobo freedom she needed to write her book. Scribbling the Cat captures a life upended by war—and, along the way, provides a incisive picture of today’s Africa, a land of AIDS and corruption, racial and tribal divides, ancient beauty and cautious hope.

 


ABOUT ALEXANDRA FULLER

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 bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book of 2002, a finalist for the GuardianFirst Book Award, and the Book Sense Best Nonfiction Book of the Year for 2002. Fuller lives in Wyoming and has two children.

A CONVERSATION WITH ALEXANDRA FULLER

Are you still in contact with K? If so, how are his spooks? What is he up to? Has he found his “special woman”?

I still see K from time to time. I think he will take his spooks to his grave, as we all will unless we exorcise them while we are on earth. The most obvious difference that I could see between K and St. Medard (whose spooks are screaming demons) is that K has almost superhuman discipline and he keeps his spooks, on the whole, contained. (They are close to the surface, it is true, but they are on chains and K—with the help of his raging, furious God—holds the end of those chains in his impressive grip.) He is still farming and I am sure he will be very successful at it—he works with such single-minded purpose and with such terrifying precision. He had a relationship with a young woman very soon after our time together and they have a daughter now. Whether or not she is his “special woman” I wouldn’t like to comment. I suspect K will find his “special woman” only when he finds some kind of peace, and I don’t know if he can find peace without really, truly allowing himself forgiveness for the war and the part he played in it. That’s the horror of a soldier’s afterlife—that at some point they must reconcile what they have done with what they know to be right, and for this they do not have the support of the generals, the politicians, or the country that sent them to war in the first place. It is a lonely, almost impossible, journey and no woman, man, God, or drug can grant the forgiveness and peace they seek.

How did your family and those close to you feel about your undertaking this journey “with a man who has a reputation for Godliness and violence” (p. vii)?

I don’t suppose anyone close to me thought it was a brilliant idea—but then I don’t think even I knew how intense and unraveled the journey would be. On a conscious level, I knew I wanted to document what had happened in the war on a personal level, like Alexander Kanengoni did in his wrenching, autobiographical novel Echoing Silences, which was his attempt to reconcile his own demons from the same war, different side. I wanted to write about what our little forgotten war had done to some of the men who had fought, and survived, that battle. K had given his life (not literally, but his emotional life, and chunks of his sanity) believing that he was fighting for his people (which included me) and for his God (a fierce Old Testament God) but did either I or God show any gratitude or any responsibility for what he had become when the war was over?

K had been told, and had believed, the “old lie” expressed in Wilfred Owens’s First World War poem “Dulce et Decorum Est pro Patria Mori”: “It is sweet and right to die for your country.” But K had endured—and still endures—a kind of living death as a result of that horrible, profound lie. His burden is a great, unfulfilled loneliness that his combative, broken character makes it difficult for him to fill. And the country he gave his life for doesn’t even exist any more. It raised him, and made him into a soldier and then it changed shape under his feet and he is no longer welcome on its soil. I thought I knew enough of his history—having shared some of it—to be one of the few writers who could understand K as a sum of his entire life and I felt I owed it to him, and men like him, to document what our war had made him into so that his battle was not completely in vain.

In other words, I felt impelled to show the horror of a great and powerful man (a man capable of great courage and compassion, just as much as “Godliness and violence”) brought low by the long-ago ambitions of power-hungry politicians. This is what I thought the outcome of our trip would be—a clear, simple, antiwar book. Of course, in planning the trip, I also thought that I would maintain a kind of pristine, sterile distance from everything and that my story would be an objective antiwar lesson (perhaps that idea of objectivity in writing is another kind of “old lie”). Instead, the insanity of the idea that you can really know someone without getting under their skin and the insanity of an old war made the whole journey far more potent and morally difficult than I had intended or than I could manage.

But shouldn’t we all—all of us—be more honest about war and about the part that all of us play in war? If a war is being fought in your name—even if you disagree with that war—the men and women in your army are fighting in the belief that they are fighting for you. So it is our duty to learn what it takes (what learned hatred of another person for his or her beliefs, race, or religion) to kill, torture, or maim in our name, in the name of righteousness and (always) in the name of “freedom.” How can we know, going into war, that we have the weightier moral authority on our sides?

When will we learn from our past mistakes? How many books must be written on the “pity of war” (Wilfred Owen again) before we pay attention to their messages? Mustn’t we assume that murder is wrong and that sanctioned mass murder is never a sane response to political, economic, or resource pressure? Imagine a world in which war was taboo and soldiers irrelevant. It is, probably, a hopelessly idealistic dream, but I hope not one that we think we should give up on, simply because war has always been a part of our history.

When K destroyed your tapes, notes, and recordings of the Mozambique trip, how did you manage to reconstruct the details?

I had transcribed most of the tapes onto my computer and I was able to reconstruct my notes fairly easily. Many of the photos that I had taken on the trip survived their dunking at K’s hands—eerily coming back from the developers streaked with red, as if blood-stained.

Knowing that K was looking for a “special woman” and seemed to regard you as a prime candidate, how did you balance your desire to get his story with the fact that you were only interested in a platonic friendship?

At seventeen, K was given a gun and told that he owned and should protect the land in front of his feet, and (by extension) everything on it and, as he was never deprogrammed after the war, this training had never left his psyche. He believed he could own anything he aimed his ambition at—his farm, his servants, and me, for example. I didn’t, for a moment, take his possessive attitude personally. I grew up with men like K and, once I had been overseas and discovered feminism I found this behavior unbalancing and tiresome, even if it is well-tolerated by the culture that raised me. What was much more disturbing for me was how confused I became the longer I was under its toxic spell (K believed so firmly in his God-given right to own whatever he touched that I sometimes had a hard time remembering how morally wrong I had now considered this attitude—even though I had certainly accepted it for years, as the way of the male-dominated world I grew up in). The longer I spent with K, the more of that culture (which must be inherent in me) floated to the surface and the harder it was for me to keep my Western-found autonomy.

I made the (obviously difficult) choice to be completely honest about how I behaved to demonstrate that it is all very well to assume you will behave a certain way, given certain conditions (war, for example, or journalism) but that when real life faces us, many of us do not behave with the dignity, control, or courage that we assume is an unshakable part of our character. As K took more and more control over the trip, and as his demons became more and more out of control, I found myself feeling less and less capable of holding onto the remote spectator, woman-in-control role I had set up for myself.

Aside from disguising details to protect K’s privacy, did you take any artistic liberties with regard to the events you depict? For instance, the fact that K literally “lights your fire” on your first meeting seems almost too good to be true.

Perhaps the greatest liberty I took is how I chose to develop the “character” of K and the “character” of the writer (me)—in other words, in deciding what episodes or conversations I chose to write in, or leave out, in order to get to the themes that I felt were important in this book: the burdens of responsibility, the importance of honesty, the impossibility of ever really knowing someone else’s sorrow or your own weaknesses.

I deliberately chose to be as tough on myself as I could be, and I deliberately tried to show K in the most sympathetic light possible. It would have been so easy to caricature him as a war-wounded racist and to caricature myself as wide-eyed but essentially innocent narrator—but that lacked the emotional honesty that I thought was centrally important to a book of this nature. In other words, I wanted to show that when one gets involved in difficult issues, and when one relentlessly pursues the past (particularly a past involving war, or some other violation of the human condition) there are no innocents.

There is a natural contraction when one writes a book—years, months, and weeks are compressed into a couple of hundred pages—which lends the narrative an urgency that does not exist in real life. As for the fire—this really happened, as did the recurrence of cow bones—neither of which I thought of as ideas until I was staring at my notes and deciding how to structure this book.

In other important ways, the book was my interpretation of a story and a man and a time. I needed to find the courage to write it so that “the writer” was as problematic a character as the central character was. I didn’t want the reader to have a restful read or a “safe” character to identify with—after all what part of war, or the repercussions of war, are restful or safe or unequivocal? War can never be simply right and wrong or good and bad and it is never simple and it cannot end until every person scarred by the war is dead—or maybe until their children are dead. This essential unpleasantness needed to be reflected in the text.

You seem very connected to Africa. Why did you decide to live in the United States? What do you miss most about Africa?

I am married to an American and he wanted to move back to his home after we were married which I, blinded by love, agreed to do (and we seem to have found a happy compromise in Wyoming where I can find space and where he feels connected to the land).

Perhaps what I miss most about Zambia, and the other parts of Africa I know well, is the way it constantly forces me to be honest about who I am. It’s hard to lie about yourself in places where questions of life and death come up on an almost daily basis. In the West, we lie about ourselves without even knowing it (from the unimportant lies such as how old we are, to much more significant lies about the weight of responsibility we should bear as the world’s most ravenous consumers of the earth’s resources).

How are your parents? Still hard at work “sexing the fish”?

I recently got a wonderful letter from them, full of their achievements—what tireless courage they have in the face of quite difficult odds. They are building eighteen more ponds in anticipation of their growing fish production and Dad seemed happy about his bananas. They have added Peking ducks to their menagerie (one had its tail feathers chewed off when it unsuspectingly landed on a fish pond housing an errant crocodile—quite a common problem for Mum) as well as eleven cats and yet another rescued dog (bringing the total up to a dozen, if I haven’t missed anyone). They have also acquired five ewes and a ram and were thrilled when nature took its course and a lamb was duly born (Dad is hoping Mum will be able to harden her heart in time for Christmas when there is always a battle about which beloved member of the ever-increasing livestock contingent will have to be sacrificed for the festivities.)

What are you working on now? Do you have a new book in the works?

Yes, another book or two. It’s hard for me to admit that I’m working on anything in particular though, in case the thing dies in the process and then it will always be the unborn book and I don’t want to be haunted by that!

 


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • Do you think the author deliberately let K think she might be the “special woman” he was looking for in order to get her story?
     
  • One purpose of the trip to Mozambique was to help K let go of his bad wartime memories—his demons. Yet revisiting the places where he had fought in the war only seemed to make his suffering worse. Is this because of the particular human dynamic of his journey with the author? Do you think confronting a painful past is the best strategy for getting over it?
     
  • What does the book convey about the position of whites in Africa today? Do K or the author’s parents, with their banana plantations and fish farms, still seem like part of a colonial overclass or is it more complicated?
     
  • K often refers to blacks derogatively as “munts” or “gondies,” yet he is kind and respectful toward blacks when dealing with them personally. Would you consider him racist?
     
  • K confesses to a horrendous atrocity. How did this affect your opinion of him? How do you think it affected the author’s?
     
  • How did K’s stories affect the author’s own feelings about the war? Do you think she found the understanding and healing she was looking for?
     
  • What do you think about K’s Christian faith? If he had not embraced Christianity and given up drinking, where do you think he would be?
     
  • How do K’s strategies for coping with his wartime flashbacks and memories compare with Mapenga’s and those of the other veterans he and the author encounter on the trip?
     
  • In her descriptions of everyday life, the author expresses deep affection for the land and people of Africa, as well as frequent exasperation. Given the history of war and the prevalence of social problems such as hunger and AIDS, how do you think she feels about the future of the region?

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Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I went to live in Zimbabwe in 1983. Rhodesia had been dead three years, but lived on in the hearts of the white population. In both her books Alexandra Fuller captures the poignancy of the war and the defeat of Rhodesian dreams, and also the hopelessness of the situation of the the Africans. I heard many stories of atrocities similar to the one recounted by K. These stories reflected what happens in all wars - young men with guns and power and an under-developed sense of responsibilty do terrible things. Everything about both her books rang true, but the second was a very brave attempt to portray the horror of war. I hope she writes more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have enjoyed both the books written (and have re-read Lets go to the dogs 3x) but Scribbling the Cat gave me quite a shock at the Bloodnut in the book was my husband,Terry He spelt it Bludnutt because actually he was whitish blonde but had thin hair (something to do with a ringworm treatment in Zambia where he lived on a farm as a young child.)His scalp got red as a rookie, hense the nickname. His photo is also in the book. I wondered why he was wary of dogs. He passed away in 2002 at 47 so I had a good cry last summer as it was unexpected seeing his picture, then the dog memory of K. Many friends have bought the books since I enlightened them.....
Guest More than 1 year ago
trying to explain the Rhodesian war to my american friends living in germany is like trying to explain snow to an african who's never travelled - it is so different to anything that they could ever experience that - they cannot understand why I would want to go back to zimbabwe (to visit)and heaven forbid take my young kids there - for there are 100's of K's - men who were young and patriotic and followed their leaders blindly into battle (a bit like the young ones in iraq) - or the vets of vietnam - these men have never fully recovered or had any kind of PTS counselling - they are the worst of us displaced zimbabweans that are scattered around the world -put into a search engine rhodesia and you will be amazed at the websites and the need to cling on to our past because the country does not exsist anymore - it has become a burnt out shell of what it once was - she travelled there because its her past. you cannot begrudge her that. It was such a small white community clinging on to the impossible (thank god)that we became an extended family and to this day I can go to any country anywhere in the world and ask for assistance from a fellow zimbo and we will help each other - even though we had never met before. Only when I became an a teenager as Bobo did I realise how wrong the ideals were - don't think why did she consort with these people - they were us - it was everybody fighting for survival - I can just see a young american writing a book like this about the iraq war in years to come - what a waste of young lives, what a waste of what was and still is in many ways a beautiful country the wildlife and countryside is fantastic - but how long can the animals survive if the people are starving - 5yrs ago it was a progressive country in africa. if your american and intrested in africa brush up on your history
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name- Rainsplash. <p> Gender- Tom! <p> Age- About 20 Moons. <p> Rank- Warrior. He'd be honored to be a mentor, though. <p> Appearance- He has simple cream fur and wide yale blue eyes, filled with curiosity and determination. <p> Personality- Rainsplash has many parts to him. He can be playful and cheery. He can also be serious and collected when needed to be. Being through his mother and father's situations from the past, he has grown a fair amount skills of adaptation. Meet him, being social is a big trait he got from his mother! <p> Crush- Heh. Let's see.... Yes. Um, more to be found out. For now he has made a promise to put everything he can into helping the clan, so love may have to wait for later. :c <p> Mate- No... <p> Kits- No... <p> History: Nothing worth characters or your time. <p> Other: As everyone says, ask!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: Owlflight Appearence: A golden she-cat with nice auburn colored paws,percing amythest eyes and brown legs Personality: Fearce,independent,kind,loving,and great durung battle Crush: When she was a apprentice...she had a crush on Flightpaw Friends: Goldfoot Mate: Not yet! Kits: Wha? History: mysterious Other: Just ask! I don't bite! ^&bull;^
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
W&alpha;vebre&alpha;k <p> &female <p> orange tabby with green eyes. <p> usually kind but she can get feisty. <p> mate:hopefully someday... <p> crush: nope. <p> kits: firekit and mintkit (adopted) <p> history: im about to write her life story! <p> freinds: lilywolf, and thts about it. <p> enemies: crocodilefang(from her past. He will be in her lifestory though!)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Age: 18 moons. <p> Gender: &female <p> Rank: Warrior <p> Look: Light Blue cat with Blue Eyes. <p> Crush: It starts with an R. <p> Mate: Nope. <p> Kits: None. <p> Personality: Bubbly, Happy, Smart, Loves kits, Silly, loves fun and is fun, Loyal. She is very kind. <p> History: Ask! <p> Kin: Vesperwind (mom, missing.) Jigsaw (dad, missing) rest unknown. <p> Sibilings: Flightpath (&male alive) Emeraldfire (&female Alive in Rainclan) Risingpaw (&female alive in Rainclan) Rabbitpaw (&female alive) <p> Other: Ask!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name &bull;&bull;&bull; Spottedpine <br> Gender &bull;&bull;&bull; Tom &male <br> Age &bull;&bull;&bull; 20 moons <br> Rank &bull;&bull;&bull; Warrior <br> Description &bull;&bull;&bull; he has cream colored fur, with brown spots scattered across his pelt. His eyes are deep, chocolate brown. <br> Personality &bull;&bull;&bull; he is sweet, loving, and cares for his clan a lot. He is also mischevious, playful, and can be a bit of a troublemaker. <br> Kin &bull;&bull;&bull; Moosetail(father), Silverbolt(mother, dead), Shiningfoot(sister) Flowernose(sister) <br> Crush/Mate &bull;&bull;&bull; Mistyrose <br> Kits &bull;&bull;&bull; hopefully <br> Theme Song &bull;&bull;&bull; How To Save A Life - The Fray
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name:Orangemist &hearts Age: About 18 moons. &hearts Gender: Female &hearts Likes:Hunting,Running and Swimming. &hearts Dislikes:Ignorannce,Stupidity(when people perposely do it.). &hearts Persona: She is sweet ,kind and loving. But will protect what she loves most and is loyal most to at all costs. &hearts Looks (discription): She is and Orange She cat, with short fur and long tail. She has a white socks,tailtip,ear tips, and nose. She has light Spring green eyes with speckles of black. &hearts Crush:Heh i have some one in mind. &hearts Mate:Maybe in the future. &hearts Kits:Maybe in the future &hearts Signature: &star OrangeMist &star
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: Flowernose <br> Rank: medicine cat <br> Gender: shecat <br> Looks: yellow fur, bright green eyes, bright pin nose. <br> Personality: determined, caring, suspicious <br> Former mentor: Sparrowsun <br> Current apprentice (as of this date): Flightpaw <br> Kin: (too many to name them all. I'm just gonna do the basics.) Silverbolt (mother, dead) Moosetail (father) Goldpaw (brother, inactive) Spottedpine (brother) Shiningfoot (sister, inactive) <br> Crush/Mate/Kits: in case your too dull to realize it, I'm a medicine cat, but in case your wonderig, no, I don't have a crush or mate or kits (duh)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name cometstorm <p> Gender tom <p> age twenty five moons <p> Rank warrior <p> Personality goofy, wary of rival clans, kind, friendly <p> Description, white tom with silver speckles and blue eyes. <p> Mate minnowfern, though her nook broke and im not sure if shes returning :( <p> Crush i dont know <p> Kits mistyrose springbrook cloverstone <p> Kin lilywolf(mother)goldenstripe(father)velvetstar, rose(aunts)nightfang(uncle)fang(grandfather, deceased)wolf, lynx(grandmothers)wolfsun, shellpool, poppydawn(deceased)snapdragon(deceased), sunflare, smokerise, rainsplash, larkfrost, cougartooth(siblings, plus a kabillion more i dont know about.)mistyrose cloverstone springbrook(children)minnowfern, moosetail dreamlily , joyleap bluefleet, spiritgaze(cousins. Plus a kijilaion more i dont know about.)spottedpine(nephew)flowernose (neice) <p> History, dont ask, its super long <p> Likes swimming, friends <p> MISTYROSE <p> Name ..... <p> Gender she <p> Age eighteen moons <p> Rank warrior <p> Personality bubbly, goofy, kind <p> Description pale grey she. Amber eyes. White spots on chest <p> crush/mate spottedpine <p> Kits nada <p> Kin. See cometstorms except wrap it to fit since mistyrose is cometstorms daughter
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name// Icefire <br> Nickname// Ice <br> Age// Lilywolf's age. They have known each other since kithood. <br> Gender// She-cat <br> Rank// Warrior/Mentor <br> Description// a pure white she with silver paws. Her pelt almost shimmers with different colors in the sun and moon. Her eyes are icy blue, and can be as hard as ice. They can be warm and loving too. Her build is for speed and endurance-just running in genral. She can run for a really long time at high speeds. Basically, really fast. She has been a runner since kithood, when she used to play with Lily(wolf), Rose(petal), and River. <br> Personality// she is shyish, respectful, and very hard-working. She is shy, respectful, sometimes bubbly, and even submissive every once in a while. That is when you first meet her. When you get to know her, she is fun, happy, still reectful, happy to help, and she gets in a lot of cat's ways when a friend is dying, hurt, or missing. She loves to help, and might get mad if she can't help or know what is happening to her friends and clannmates. <br> Crush// none <br> Mate// see this: Ice's love life is conplex. She would love to have one, but doesn't really try. <br> Kits// Stormyeye&male (adopted son) <br> Likes// running, having all her friends together, HorseClan, rabbit and sparrow, hunting, seeing kits grow into warriors, climbing trees, etc. <br> Dislikes// fish, mean cats, doesn't care for swiming, friends dying, etc. <br> Friends// Lilywolf, Rosepetal, Velvetstar, Cloudripple, Smokerise[?], Earthbeam[?], hoping for more. <br> Apprentice// Spottedpaw (Spottedpine. She finished his training), Mystpaw <br> Kin// ... <br> History// coming soon! <br> <p> ------------ <br> Name: Stormyeye <br> Nickname: Stormy <br> Age: hmm...22 moons maybe? <br> Gender: tom <br> Rank: warrior <br> Description: dark gray with three black stripes down his back. His eyes are dark blue with navy dots under each. Three navy dots under each eye. One paw is black. He wears a dark blue fire opal pendant carved like a lightning bolt. <br> Personality: bubbly, happy, loving and caring, jumpy, sometimes clumsy. He is just a fun cat! <br> Crush: ...Larkfrost <br> Mate/Kits: none <br> Kin: unknown <br> Friends: Larkfrost, Rainsplash <br> Likes: sleeping, sparrow, hunting, running <br> History: basiccaly he was abandon by his parents because he was the runt of the litter. He survived on his own untill Icefire found him on the border. He grew up in HorseClan and met Larkfrost, and he hopes one day they can be more then just friends. He grew closer to Rainsplash, Lark's brother when Lilywolf lost her eighth life. He has been friends with him ever since. His history will still move on! <br> Other for BOTH CATS!: ask! <br> <p> Signature: &downarrow P.S. I almost always use four stars. I use one if I am mad, and five if I am typing a bio. Other then that, I use four stars. P.P.S. Thanks for reading my bio! <br> <p> ~Icefire&star & -Storm&gamma&epsilon&gamma&epsilon
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Horseclan's camp: House on The Prairie result 1-8 <br> Horseclan's territory: House on The Prairie result 9-30 <p> Leader: Velvetstar <br> Deputy: Goldenstripe <br> Ask one of us or Lilywolf to join and you'll be asked to complete either 1 hunting patrol or 1 border patrol and then you will have a warrior ceremony. <br> Clan Meetings are held on Tuesday evenings <br> Pact Clan Meetings are held every other Sunday, all day. Ask Lilywolf at camp for more info. <p> -Velvetstar-
obeythekitty More than 1 year ago
unlike her first engrossing memoir of growing up a white child in Africa, the author expresses more emotion and opinion in this tale of a journey thru old war zones with an ex-Rhodesian soldier. insightful though not comprehensive look at post-colonial Africa, the main story is her travelling companion's edgey mental state, that connects with our current American vets struggling with PTSD. In a chilling scene, the author is sharing sleeping quarters with 3 former soldiers, and is awakened repeatedly when each and all of them scream out in the night from war terrors 20 years old. I'm looking forward to reading her third and newst book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Satisfying and captivating. This is a haunting, yet beautifully textured, continuation of Fuller's younger life memoired in 'Don't Let's Go to The Dog's Tonight'. After skimming over seven years of living the fat life in the US she's drawn back to the raw life of her African childhood to research the wars which raged on around her youth. She encounters soldiers reluctant to reveal the realities of being a warrior, including her father. Bo's faced with a new understanding of her own history, the people she's left behind and of the war torn Africa (specifically former Rhodesia and Mozambique) that was beyond understanding as a child. Though this isn't meant to be a history lesson in itself, however, it's timely; considering the HIV epidemic and the many conflicts currently raging round the globe, the attitudes of those that start wars, and how wars effect so many for so long. Her travels are written with the eyes of a painter along with humerous, soulful, philosophical observations of what it is to be human here on earth. It's all here; love and longing, fear and hatred, courage and bravado, depression and abuse, faith and endurance, peace and tranquilty: and advice from Alexadra Fuller's father, 'Don't look back so much or you'll get wiped out on the tree in front of you'. We're left wondering if Fuller has learned the lessons from her travels with a soldier that are obvious to the reader regarding accountability and volnerabilty. I missed the unapologetic observations she's famous for regarding her view of her role in this journey. Fuller finds herself, however, unapologetically halfway around the world from her husband and children with some pretty questionable characters and claims she is the same person she was at the beginning of her travels. I loved this book but I can't help but feel it's a memoir written too close to real time to be completely told. I'm not sure if she hit the tree or not but maybe that was her intention. Read it and decide.
Shawn33Mari3 More than 1 year ago
"What is important is the story. Because when we are all dust and teeth and kicked-up bits of skin - when we're dancing with our own skeletons - our words might be all that's left of us." Hands down, my favorite book of all time. I discovered it about 10 years ago, and it has seared itself on my heart forever. It's a true story, wonderfully poetic with a depth of humor, tragedy, and intrigue never to be duplicated again in my opinion. It's to be read aloud, savored like fine wine. And you'll find yourself transported as If you are right there living her prose.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Seperate places for each because I get lazy and some are quite long. Updates in the results that follow them. Rosepetal-"petal of the rose" all results. Crystalkit-"crystal falling" all results. Opalburst is now dead but his biography is at "opal death" all results. Ebonpelt, too, is dead and his biography is at "ebon heart" with updates at "ebon" all results. Thank you!<br>~Rosepetal &hearts~<br>-Crystalkit &star<br>~&Xi&beta&sigma&eta&rho&epsilon&iota&tau<br>-Opal &star
Guest More than 1 year ago
One has to wonder about Fuller's true motivations for becoming so intimately involved with such an unappealing character as 'K' and his violent,low life cronies. Ostensibly, she is embarking on a voyage of discovery in order to experience first hand the aftermath of a long and brutal war and the lasting effect on its survivors but the question that must be on the mind of every reader is why would she (who professes to have a close attachment to her children, if not her husband), embark on such a hazardous undertaking and place herself in such a vulnerable environment in order to gain some insight into these hopeless and basically uninteresting characters, whose vocabulary is largely limited to four letter expletives. This is a legitimate question because the story is as much (or moreso) about her than the characters she encounters and the places she visits but she never really gives any insight into her personal life as she so freely did in 'Don't Lets Go To The Dogs Tonight'. Was the real reason for her odyssey romance, impulse, adventure, escape or, truly, research as she would have us believe. The reader is given no clue and is left wondering -'why'? Fuller's prose is wonderful but the dialogue in this story seems stilted and does not flow as it did in 'Dogs'. In this reader's opinion,'Scribbling' does not live up to the considerable promise of her first book.