Read Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier by Alexandra Fuller Free Online
Book Title: Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier|
The author of the book: Alexandra Fuller
Edition: The Penguin Press
Date of issue: May 3rd 2004
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 581 KB
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 2295 times
Reader ratings: 3.6
ISBN 13: 9781594200168
Read full description of the books:
"When I die and I go up there and Jesus Christ asks me what I did with my life, I'll say to him, 'I hope you have a long time to sit and listen, because do I have a story for you!'"
"Curiosity scribbled the cat."
My husband read this when it was published back in 2004. Usually he forgets what a book is about in a year or so, sometimes in less time than that, but when he saw me taking this one off the shelf he said, "You probably shouldn't read that. It will probably upset you." Well, nothing encourages this girl to read a book like someone telling me not to, so read it I did. And the spouse was right - it did upset me.
But I'm glad I read it.
Fuller, whose African childhood is documented in Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, is in the country on a brief visit to her parents' home. Here she is introduced to K., a local banana farmer. K. is a former soldier of the Rhodesian War - (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhodesi...). He's also a horrifically racist, God-obsessed individual who believes in demons, and is tormented by his past.
K. was what happened when you grew a child from the African soil, taught him an attitude of superiority, persecution, and paranoia, and then gave him a gun and sent him to war in a world he thought of as his own to defend. And when the cease-fire was called and suddenly K. was remaindered, there was no way to undo him. And there was no way to undo the vow of every soldier who knelt on this soil and let his tears mix with the spilled blood of his comrade and who had promised that he would never forget to hate the man - and every man who looked like him - who took the life of his brother.
It's not hard to find an old soldier in Africa. In fact, there are probably parts of Africa where almost anyone over the age of ten is an old soldier and has held an AK-47 in his hands and let its fire chatter into human flesh.
What is harder to find are old soldiers who will talk about their war with strangers.
Fuller becomes fascinated with the man and his stories, and embarks on a trip with him to Mozambique. You should know that this is a book about white people in Africa, packed with trigger warnings - abuse, rape, corruption, war, and violence. As she travels with K. and learns of his deeds, somehow, the author manages to stay a passive observer, even when he confesses to one heart-stopping, stomach-turning act of unspeakable torture performed on a young girl.
Mapenga was in the Special Branch of the Rhodesian army during the war. "It's where they sent the clever bastards," he said, cracking open a beer and sitting back on his sofa. "The shit we did," Mapenga leaned forward and looked into the bottom of my thoughts, his eyes narrowing and direct. He had an unnervingly direct manner and it was impossible to look away from those eyes; intelligent, passionate, mad, piercing. His lips trembled with intensity when he spoke, so that it looked as if he was having a hard time expressing the magnitude of his thoughts. He said, "They taught me well." He smiled suddenly. "I can get anyone to tell me anything. I can get anyone to do anything for me."
I looked away.
"Anything," said Mapenga, sitting back again. "Man, if there was a war crimes tribunal, every damn one of us -- from both sides, the gondies* weren't any better -- we'd all be up for murder. We'd all be in jail. War's shit." He lit a cigarette and eyed me through the smoke.
* (derogative term for blacks)
This is definitely a trip into the heart of darkness.
Like my husband, I can't really recommend this one.
K.'s story, and his actions will stick with you; it is impossible to wash away. If you're still game, I'd say the main reason for reading is Fuller's rich, descriptive writing. She's quite good at what she does.
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.
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Read information about the authorAlexandra Fuller has written five books of non-fiction.
Her debut book, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood (Random House, 2001), was a New York Times Notable Book for 2002, the 2002 Booksense best non-fiction book, a finalist for the Guardian’s First Book Award and the winner of the 2002 Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize.
Her 2004 Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier (Penguin Press) won the Ulysses Prize for Art of Reportage.
The Legend of Colton H Bryant was published in May, 2008 by Penguin Press and was a Toronto Globe and Mail, Best Non-Fiction Book of 2008.
Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness was published in August 2011 (Penguin Press).
Her latest book, Leaving Before the Rains Come, was published in January 2015 (Penguin Press).
Fuller has also written extensively for magazines and newspapers including the New Yorker Magazine, National Geographic Magazine, Vogue and Granta Magazine. Her reviews have appeared in the New York Times Book Review; The Financial Times and the Toronto Globe and Mail.
Fuller was born in England in 1969 and moved to Africa with her family when she was two. She married an American river guide in Zambia in 1993. They left Africa in 1994 and moved to Wyoming, where Fuller still resides. She has three children.
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