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Title : Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 096591626X
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier Reviews

  • Melki
    2019-06-07 02:51

    "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 - ( 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.

  • Chrissie
    2019-06-01 06:55

    This is the only author that I have given every single one of the books they have written five stars. What is amazing then? -Her writing. Every line reads like poetry. -The content. There is so much to think about in Fuller's books. Only on the surface did this book concern the Rhodesian War. It is much more about making sense of our lives, about terror and promises and love. How low can a human being go? And how do we then pick ourselves up and go on? We all have our own demons, how do we get beyond them? And there is no one pat solution for all of us. The book description states it is about K, well it is just as much an introspective look at the author too. And you. And me. -The emotional impact. If you can read this book calmly without getting upset, then you are a stone. I guarantee you will both cry and laugh. I guarantee you will be moved.-The audio narration - by Lisette Lecat. She can sing like the birds and insects in the bushes. She weeps and she laughs and guffaws. The mens' voices are as distinctive and nuanced as the women's. Each person seems to have a different voice,and each voice speaks with sincerity and inner feeling.This is not a book about Mozambique or the Rhodesian War. It is about all wars and more. The author let down K and K let down the author and don't people always do that? We think we are going after a goal together only to find that we each expect different things from the other. And what is the result? Hurt! Of course. But along the way we maybe laugh too and maybe tomorrow we are a little wiser. Yes, the book is philosophical, but it doesn't preach. It is also about mundane how men can never ask for directions when they are lost, about having to pee when you are traveling and there is nowhere to pee, about training your pet, only here it is a lion rather than a dog.Now I have to go read another book by this author. Anything, I will read anything by this author. The Legend of Colton H. Bryant is the only one left for me. It doesn't really attract me, but I am pretty darn sure I will think it is terrific. I can think of no other author where every darn book has a huge emotional impact on me. Each book has had a different topic, each is unique, no repetition whatsoever. How many authors can do that? The author is amazing too!

  • Judy
    2019-06-08 09:56

    Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier draws the reader in with a dose of the familiar: Bobo, her Mom and Dad drinking together in Africa. But no, this isn't another Fuller family memoir - it is a collection of confessions by K, a former Rhodesian soldier. K is a very strange man. I never could get a handle on where he was coming from. He clearly suffered from guilt of his past, confusion of where he wanted his life to go and what he believed. K could cuss and praise God in the same sentence. He could reflect fondly on his soldier life and regret it in the same minute. He was a multitude of conflicts. K and Bobo trek through Zambia and Mozambique following his course as a soldier allowing K to reflect on his past.On the other hand, Fuller writes with a delightful mix of African words and her fun style. Africa is brought to life in all its vividness, quirks and unique culture. 4.5 stars

  • Magdelanye
    2019-05-22 04:06

    What is it about uncouth 'manly' men that attracts free spirited women? Alexandra Fuller, leaving her American husband and two children at 'home' in suburban Wyoming,makes an extended Christmas visit to her folks at 'home' on their fish farm in Zambia. In an attempt to come to terms with her past, and not completely comfortable with her new life situation, she seeks to understand the violent events that occurred in her families lifetime,growing up in Rhodesia. She is drawn to K, an ex-soldier who is a legend in the neighbourhood, who disarms her with his forthright belligerant vulnerability....that's where it usually all startsBack in sububia for new years, she can't seem to slot herself back in. Her fascination with K's story and the reality of starving Africa juxtaposed against the excess of America, challenges the authenticity of her own American existance.It's not long before she finds her way back to Africa, this time on assigment.She can't wait to see K again and devises a plan so outlandish and so offhand you can guess that it was already envisioned in minute detail. The trip into K's past is also a journey of reconciliation for AF whose passionate curiousity and intimacy with Africa must come to some kind of truce for her to feel real wherever she goes.So they are off, into real danger, and that they carry on despite volitile disagreements that do almost end in utter disaster. AF writes nimbly of their adventure and her candor is refreshingly devoid of egocentricity.Her instant rapport with people grates on K and he is especially jealous of his friends. That it is a quality that these men possess that is the source of her fascination, and not merely a mutable infatuaion, AF takes us with her into '...the great loneliness that stretched between... AF does learn more than she ever wanted to about the effects of war on the psyche. She makes an valient attempt to share her feminist values with K when he is in the grip of his fantasies and maybe some of it got through because they make it back from Mozambique alive. Did she really need to go through all that to balance something in her that could now carry on? Whattever motivated her,it worked, and she sure was glad to be heading home at last.

  • sarahcorbett morgan
    2019-06-15 06:46

    Beautiful writing. Haunting story. Like many others who have reviewed this book, I was all set to rip into Fuller for her hinted-at lifestyle and her behavior on the road with these gents. Then, about half way through the book, I realized she has achieved the writer's ultimate goal in writing memoir: she simply lets the reader observe her in action. By seeing her we come to know Fuller and we can draw our own opinions. Some will like her, others not. It is a brilliantly written book which I highly recommend to anyone writing memoir, or anyone who wants to know what growing up (or fighting) in a war-torn country can do to a person. The book's opening sentence: "Because it is the country that grew me, and because they are my people, I sometimes forget to be astonished by Africans." Alexandra Fuller

  • Christie
    2019-05-31 02:49

    Fuller was born in England and moved, with her family, to Rhodesia when she was 3. Here’s an even more interesting fact: Fuller received her B.A. from Acadia University. Since I live next door to Nova Scotia - I feel a certain kinship to her now; she’s an honorary Maritimer!Scribbling the Cat is Fuller’s story of ‘K’, a man she meets on a trip back to Zambia to visit her parents who still live and work there. Fuller has left her husband and two children behind in the States. She does a wonderful job, throughout this book, of juxtaposing those two very different worlds: one of excess and waste and one where nothing is wasted, where potential danger always seems to be lurking.K is something of an enigma. She hears about him before she actually meets him and when she meets him, he takes her breath away."Even at first glance, K was more than ordinarily beautiful, but in a careless, superior way, like a dominant lion or an ancient fortress."Of course, I immediately thought that Scribbling the Cat was going to be about a sexual relationship between Fuller and K - but their relationship turns out to be far more complicated than that. K was a soldier in the Rhodesian war and having grown up there, Fuller is intensely interested in his story. As their friendship develops, she gets the idea that they should journey to the places he had fought. She is, after all, a writer and he is a remarkable subject.K is an endlessly fascinating subject – he rants, he weeps, he recalls with equal vigor.Scribbling the Cat is an unflinching look at war – the horrible things people do and how they must find some sort of peace with their actions when the war is over. This is K’s story, to be sure, and it’s a horrific one. But this is Fuller’s story, too, and it’s a remarkable.

  • Sharman Russell
    2019-06-18 02:51

    Alexandra Fuller is such a talented writer--and funny. Smart and funny, a wonderful combination. Scribbling the Cat is her description of K, a man she pursues as a writer--someone she wants to write about. K is a white African soldier struggling through his memories and experiences of the Rhodesian War. By necessity, the author only gets at the surface of things. She is with K a relatively short time. She never knows him well. So we never do, either. It's all impressionistic, anecdotal, fleeting. All the characters, including Fuller herself, are flawed. Even the landscape, which is also a character, is flawed. A little mean. Malarial. (This worries me a bit when I think of going to Malawi this fall in pursuit of my own writing project. A lot of things worry me about this, of course, and I can't say that reading this book made me worry less.) I don't imagine I will ever get much closer than this to the Rhodesian War, in which a minority of white Africans brutally tried to keep their colonial dominance in what is now Zimbabwe, or to this kind of man. I rather hope not, anyway. In the end, I had to appreciate the author's oblique approach. In the end, although not entirely satisfying, and full of extraordinary gaps and missing information, the book felt honest.

  • Judy
    2019-06-03 09:52

    Incredibly wonderful descriptive writing that creates amazing images as you read, or in this case as I read with my ears, this being an audio book. The trouble is the imagery the words create is not only describing the geography and scenery of Southern Africa but also the painful emotional journey of people shaken up and thrown down and cast aside by the brutal years of war. I can not imagine anyone being able read or listen to this story without deeply reflecting on the total pointlessness and universal destruction wrought on every life and nature and the landscape by war.It was worth a read with my ears. And I think for me the only reason I could finish it all was by listening rather than reading the words. Tough, but truly worth the time.

  • Christopher Roth
    2019-06-06 06:39

    This book is about a white veteran of Rhodesia's Chimurenga War who is haunted by the past, but it's disturbing in more ways than the author intends. It is really hard to not dislike the author intensely once you read between the lines of what went into this book. First, Fuller, raised in Africa by white settlers but now living in the U.S., publishes a memoir of her childhood in Rhodesia (which I have not read but may yet, if only out of morbid curiosity) which becomes an unexpected runaway bestseller. Then what obviously happened is her publisher said, "Write another one on a similar topic, and we'll give you an advance and money for travel!" But she'd already written up her whole life in Africa, so how can she write another book? So she uses the money to visit her parents, now farming over the border in Zambia, and scout around for a topic. It turns out there's an utterly deranged, PTSD-addled white man who came back from the Rhodesian bush wars with snakes in his brain and now lives by himself on a nearby farm. Even her parents keep a distance from this loon. So she goes over to introduce herself and what comes out very quickly is that he likes isolation because of his madness but is desperately lonely for female companionship and utterly emotionally fragile and here out of nowhere comes this cute, thin little blonde woman with dimples and cheekbones--in her author photo she is cocking her head and grinning for the camera in her blonde bob like a flirty debutante--who wants to do nothing but sit and chat with him. This is, like, the biggest thing that has happened to him in the past ten years, so of course he utterly falls in love with her. And of course, since she now spent the travel money and HAS to write her book, and quickly, she totally lets him and in fact leads him on sexually to an extent that is jaw-droppingly shameless. It is not clear at what point she reveals to him that she wants to write a book about him, perhaps it is just before or just after or just as she suggests to him that they go on a car trip to Mozambique to meet some of his old army buddies and visit some places he fought in during the war. Even though this trip is painful for him, he obliges because he's head over heels. Mind you, I don't mean horny, or at least not only horny: he's a born-again and doesn't drink or anything and seems to lead a quiet, moral lifestyle; he just wants a WIFE, and he says repeatedly that he thinks God sent her to him. (Whisper: no, her publisher did!) He opens up to her--about his only child who died as a young boy, about his failed marriage, about the people he killed in the war, including a girl from a village that died after he performed torture on her genitals to get information out of her, about his madness and loneliness and his utterly terrifying bouts of murderous rage in the years after he returned from fighting. And she lets him, and transcribes it all down to be downloaded into her book later, and when necessary she hugs him and comforts him and lets him kiss her "wetly" on the cheek and sob and babble about how wonderful she is. THEN, in Mozambique, they visit a former comrade of his, a notorious womanizer who is if anything CRAZIER, who lives on an island in a lake with only a semi-tamed LION for company, and while they're staying there one night, right after K, as she calls the subject of her book, goes off to bed, she lets the womanizing lion-owner get to second or third base with her (details murky, but not home run)--after all, she's lonely for companionship too, and it's HARD WORK to lead someone on sexually for weeks and weeks; it's a kind of self-denial too, poor girl, and if she gave K so much as a handjob it might spoil her hot streak of information-extraction--and K, who is no fool, overhears enough to figure out what happened and to assume more--and then the next morning K goes ballistic on her and screams at her that she's Evil (poor fellow only just figured that out) and he destroys all of her tapes and notes in a rage and sends her away. This is weird because all of the conversations and monologues up to this point are rendered with tape-recorder-style full-transcription verisimilitude, and this is when the reader suddenly realizes that all of that is reconstructed from memory, including all of the sobs and breakdowns and cluster-headache screams of anguish and babbling professions of feelings that punctuate his telling of his life story. Presumably, she had made him sign a release before all this happens because she goes home to Wyoming and writes the whole book without any input or further permission or contact of any kind with K until, just before the manuscript goes off to the publisher, she adds a postscript in the form of the email from him that has just arrived to break the months of silence, in which he is grudgingly but still rather pathetically forgiving of her. As an epilogue: in the book she refers to her husband and two children back home in Wyoming, but the "about the author" blurb on the jacket says she lives with her two children in Wyoming; no husband mentioned. He got wise, I guess, and so did K, at least briefly, and I hope readers get wise too as to what kind of person Alexandra Fuller is. Ick.Nonetheless, it is a damn good read. And the glossary in the back, which breaks down for us K's mixture of Anglicized Shona and Boer slang is worth the cost of the book in itself.

  • Kirsty
    2019-06-17 03:07

    On a visit to her parent’s farm in Zambia, Zimbabwean author Alexandra Fuller encounters the enigmatic K, a crazed, battle-scarred veteran of the Rhodesian war and a devout born-again Christian. “Curiosity scribbled the cat,” warns Alexandra’s father as she attempts to find out more about the ex-soldier and the brutal war that shaped her childhood. She ignores his advice and, fascinated with K, she leaves her comfortable life in America, to travel with him through the battlefields of the Rhodesian war. Death and war are heavy subjects. However despite the tragic tales of K and the other white ex-soldiers she meets, Fuller manages to inject some hilarity into her story with her witty, offhand descriptions of the surreal characters she encounters. After a failed marriage and the death of his only son, K has turned from a frightening, violent drunk into a holy rolling teetotaller. He feels God is punishing him for his actions during the war and he lives his life in penance on his isolated banana farm. He falls in love with Alexandra, seeing her as his redemption despite the fact that she is happily married with two children. K is a difficult character to warm to, but like the author you cannot help but be fascinated by him. To Alexandra he is “romantic and brutish, a man who was both saviour and murderously dangerous.” He is unpredictable, at one moment weeping about the horrors of war and another openly communing with God, or casually flooring a friend’s pet lion that attempts to have the author for lunch. It is K’s fate that keeps you turning pages, you cannot help but sympathise with his tragic life. He is a mystery that the author wants to “write into coherence” she hopes that by understanding K she will find peace from the ghosts of her past.As a child during the liberation war, Alexandra was a “small smug white girl shouting: ‘We are all Rhodesians and we’ll fight through thickanthin’” When K tells her how he brutally murdered a woman, she becomes involved in his war. She feels “every bit that woman’s murderer”. She is nauseated by the casual way that K and his cronies speak about killing. “Scribbled, plugged, slotted” are all words they use when explaining how they hunted down the enemy.The book is an examination of how war affects those who live through it. The ex-soldiers Alexandra meets have lives that read like carbon copies of failed marriages, alcoholism, drug addiction and madness. Some have found redemption in God or alcohol, others live in solitude. In Mozambique she meets a man nicknamed Mapenga who lives in suicidal isolation on an island with a pet lion who mauls him regularly. His black cook, Andrew is also an ex-soldier who fought against Mapenga in the war. Andrew tells Alexandra that he fought for freedom but despite the fact that his side won the war, his situation has not changed.Alexandra Fuller writes with a fierce passion for Africa and its people. Her beautiful description and vivid imagery bring the characters and landscape to life. Scribbling the Cat is a reminder to us all that the consequences of war go beyond which side had the highest death toll. It is a warning not to look too far back into our pasts. By her own admission, her emotional journey with K was more than she could cope with. She writes: “K volunteered his demons to me almost immediately. And I was too curious – too amazed to look the other way. It bloody nearly killed me.”

  • Heather
    2019-05-27 09:57

    I read this book in one day - a long day of traveling, actually, so maybe that was just a fluke. If i hadn't had anything else to read and if my iPod hadn't died some days before, I probably would have put this down long before finishing.I'm still processing this book. I think what bothered me about it was the fact that while I was reading it, i kept thinking, "Why on earth was this book even written? As some kind of catharsis for the author?" and basically that's probably the case. Fuller gets herself into a mess of trouble with a former soldier who fought in the Rhodesian wars, and tries to make this guy (referred to only as "K") into something human.Ultimately, this is a story of pain and suffering, though whose remains unclear. "K" is not supposed to be a figure of sympathy (in my estimation), and Fuller gets mixed up in this guy's history, and acts as if writing this book was her only way to atone for wanting to tell his story in the first place. On top of that, she is both present too much (physically) in the story (told from her perspective) and completely absent (emotionally) at the same time. Her objectivity? Or shame for retracing this guy's worthless existence as he recounts all the fights and murders he's been party to? Ugh. I enjoyed her first memoir, but this seemed gratuitous.

  • Belle
    2019-06-10 10:45

    After reading Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, I thought I would try another of Alexandra Fuller's books and I expected the same openness in Scribbling the Cat. Unfortunately I found this book somewhat guarded. While the author was visiting her parents she met and developed a relationship with a lonely war veteran farmer (K) and from this relationship this book was born. In fact without this relationship there would never have been a book. As soon as K was introduced I thought to myself, hang on a minute, you are a married woman with children and I felt the guy was being led on. It seemed that the author was taking advantage of someone who had some serious emotional issues and was extremely vulnerable for her own financial gain. As the book went on it seemed to me that the author was indeed exploiting K (and his feelings) in order to have a story and a book. I know it is not my place to judge the author and her motives or life choices and this review should be solely on her writing ability not a moral judgment but this just left me feeling so very uncomfortable that I really had to force myself to finish reading the book. Unfortunately I really did not enjoy this book whatsoever.

  • Sue
    2019-06-08 08:38

    The author grew up in Zimbabwe while it was still Rhodesia, during the war. After the war, the family moved on from there. She is now living in the States with family; her parents remain in Zambia. The story opens with her traveling to Zambia to spend Christmas with her parents. During her visit she meets a farmer identified only as K. He was a member of a Special Forces group during the war. Alexandra makes a couple more trips to Zambia over the next couple years and, on one of those occasions, finds herself making the suggestion to K that they retrace some of the route from his war years, with the idea of it being a chance to face and deal with some of the war demons. Over half the book is that journey together. I really enjoyed this but can't seem to pinpoint what or why. Maybe it's that her writing is so vivid that I felt I was right there traveling alongside. Definitely at least a PG rating for language and war atrocity stories. One nice feature is a glossary at the end which defines some of the idioms used throughout.

  • David
    2019-05-28 03:58

    The author, now living in the USA, returns to Africa to visit her aging parents. When her father is reluctant to tell of his part in the Rhodesian war, she goes in search of other sources. She meets a man she calls only "K", a veteran of the Rhodesian Light Infantry, an all-white unit with a reputation for lethality. Fuller convinces him to travel with her to Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) and Mozambique in search of insight. Along the way, he revisits his memories of a brutal war he fought against black freedom. Now a born-again Christian, K is haunted by the memories of the war and its atrocities. Some parts of this book are brutal and disturbing; others are entertaining and insightful. It's a worthy sequel to the author's own childhood memoir, "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight."

  • Kieron
    2019-06-03 09:39

    Having personally lived through the war period in Zambia, it was easy for me to relate to this book. Gutsy Alexandra Fuller transports you into the very hearts of the guys lost in a battle-free battle zone, men disturbed and scarred by a seemingly fruitless war.Strangely, I was left wondering what her husband might have thought of her endeavours. K (the main character) seems to have been turned inside-out by what she put him through. Her accuracy in relation to how these stateless fellows speak is nothing short of perfect. I realised I was one of them and placed this book down with a pit in my stomach. Compelling, frightening, brave and unforgettable.

  • Amanda Patterson
    2019-06-13 02:58

    Alexandra Fuller’s first memoir, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2002, a national best-seller and a finalist in the Guardian first book award.Scribbling the Cat is Alexandra Fuller's story about her friendship with K, a white veteran of the Rhodesian War. Her father tells her to leave him alone."Curiosity scribbled the cat," he says.But Fuller travels with him back to Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia). The book is a savage memoir of the brutal war K fought. This is not a journey for the faint-hearted. Both the country and the man are scarred and difficult to empathise with. Fuller, herself learned to clean and load a rifle when she was still too small to shoot it. She watched her father go off to hunt guerrilla fighters in the bush. She wore T-shirts with white slogans and was taught at school to pray for victory. The horrible reality of the war is described in detail.'Scribbling the Cat'' begins with Fuller, who lives in Wyoming with her American husband and two children, on a visit to the Sole Valley in Zambia. Her parents now run a fish and banana farm.I found some of the descriptions nostalgic. My father, a herpetologist took me into the bush as a child and her descriptions of bullfrogs that “had lain in a tomb for the last nine months (…and now) exploded from the ground to mate and breed and roar for a few days before sinking into the silence of the mud.”, vivid and truly African.This holiday is not enough for a memoir, however. She avoids her own emotional entanglement with this man and in ''Scribbling the Cat'' this avoidance becomes a fault.

  • Larry Bassett
    2019-06-03 08:50

    "K and I met and journeyed and clashed like titans. And, at the end of it all, he asked me not to contact him again. Instead of giving each other some kind of peace and understanding, we had inflamed existing wounds. Far from being a story of reconciliation and understanding, this ended up being a story about what happens when you stand on tiptoe and look too hard into your own past and into the things that make us war-wounded the fragile, haunted, powerful men-women that we are. K and I fell headlong—free fall—into terror, love, hate, God, death, burial."The author is written several books about her life in southern Africa. They ooze an Africa that soaked into her during her childhood and early adulthood. There was a war of independence in her early years in Rhodesia which eventually became Zimbabwe. She was young and rooted for the bad guys if you believe in the rights of African self-rule. In this book she travels into Mozambique with a man who fought for the white interlopers Who were trying to hold onto control of the land. The men in this book ex-soldiers are crude and profane who don't make it over the line into likability. The descriptions of southern Africa do not encourage tourist trips there. In fact the author has relocated to The US West where she lives with her husband and children.

  • Linda
    2019-05-26 09:48

    "Scribble" - to kill; as depicted in the end of the book Glossary's guide to the idiosyncratic mix of slang and languages used in the text.Scribbling the Cat - any little kid (at least from my youth)knows what killed the cat - curiosity. And curiosity is what propels Alexandra Fuller, as an adult and a former Rhodesian to want to know more about a war that tore the country apart during the 80's. To accomplish this mission Fuller revisits her parents in South Africa and persuades a former soldier to revisit his past.The story was okay ... I felt that the author concentrated a little too much on how "K" (the soldier) fell in love with her rather than delving into the memories of war which, to me, would have been the gist of the telling. Still and all, it was an interesting and eye-opening look into the culture and people of this south-central area of Africa.I recently had occasion to hear Alexandra Fuller speak, and she is very passionate about the Rhodesian War and its aftermath under the dictatorship of Robert Mugabe (ethnic cleansing, racism, intimidation, violence are terms used in describing Zimbabwe under Mugabe's 31-year leadership). Perhaps Fuller meant Scribbling the Cat to be more of a look into the past and present of her homeland; it ends up being more of a look into her own journey and perhaps incertitude about her own marriage.

  • Stacy
    2019-05-27 09:05

    Most writers are unable to clearly see a book through from start to finish. Most writers forget to continue the descriptive prose that keeps the reader in the moment. Most writers cannot separate their personal lives from their writers lives. Most writers are not A. Fuller. It was difficult for me not to read a few "reviews" about this book before I began. I am usually not one to need another's opinion before I read as it seems to throw paint on my blank canvas. I need a very blank canvas when beginning a new book - it is only fair. In the case of this book there was a little artwork on my canvas that I chose to overlook. Thank goodness I did. Scribbling the Cat is a read to take in pieces. It is meaningful to me because I like the author and visited Zim last year and hope to see Moz soon. Scribbling the Cat is heavy. And dark.I cannot say the book is great - because the story is not. But I can say it is beautiful. The story, the love, the triumph (of the author), the writing - oh A. Fuller - I love your writing so much. This book has moved me. Very deeply moved me. It is very well done. And if you read it - I promise if you do - without judgement-You will be moved too.Amazing book. Unbelievable story. Beautiful writing. Thank you A. Fuller.

  • Alison
    2019-06-07 06:37

    Alexandra Fuller is a white African who grew up during the Rhodesian War. She goes on a road trip with a charismatic but haunted veteran of the war, retracing his steps and confronting his demons. While you can't help questioning the author's sanity for taking this journey with someone who clearly has a screw loose, it is a close up look at atrocities that have occurred in that part of the world. And while you want to dislike the racist white Africans that you encounter throughout the book, Fuller paints of picture of the complexities of the war and the victims on both sides. It is just mind boggling to think that everyone is expected to cohabitant after being involved in a bloody war where everyone (even children) was conscripted and on top of that you have an HIV infected rate that has knocked the life expectancy down to the low 30s.... OK clearly this book is not a light read but there are beautiful and vibrant descriptions of the landscapes where you can taste the dust and see the sunsets.

  • Donna
    2019-06-18 10:41

    Africa is mostly a mystery to me though I have recently read a number of books about different times and places in Africa. In this memoir, the author travels with a white African fighter from the Rhodesian war for independence which is not nearly as concise as it sounds. The various fighting groups from Rhodesia, Zambia, Mozambique, and eventually Zimbabwe were interwoven and overlapped so that killing became a lifestyle of competing guerilla groups. I can't help but think that while I was living my life peaceably in the US in the '60s and '70s, families, communities, villages, and whole countries were being systematically destroyed in Africa by tryannical leaders and competing ideologies. Scribbling the Cat, written at a time of peace in these current countries, captures some of the horror of past times and reflects the sustained effect those years have had on present circumstances.

  • Leanna
    2019-05-28 04:50

    I love the way this woman writes and I give this one more star than Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness which I read right before this book. To me, there is one paragraph that was so provocative I went back into the book to find it because she puts a philosophy into words that I want to meditate on:"I don't think we have all the words in a single vocabulary to explain what we are or why we are. I don't think we have the range of emotion to fully feel what someone else is feeling. I don't think any of us can sit in judgment of another human being. We're incomplete creatures barely scraping by. Is it possible - from the perspective of this quickly spinning Earth and our speedy journey from crib to coffin - to know the difference between right, wrong, good and evil? I don't know if it's even useful to try." Wow.

  • Jen
    2019-05-23 08:49

    A good character study of "K", the white African former soldier that Fuller meets and becomes intrigued by on a visit home to her parents in Zambia--but less successful as an entire book. I can see why she wanted to write about him, but I don't think she found the right hook for her story. She seemed to think traveling into his dark past from the war would help her understand something in herself...but hers was less a heart of darkness and more a spleen of discontent. Still, Fuller has a way with description, especially when describing the African landscape and its denizens, so that helped make it an enjoyable read, if not exactly satisfying.

  • Galena
    2019-06-18 05:55

    I will read anything by Alexandra Fuller. I may have drifted a bit toward neglect with Ripley as I read this book but it was worth it! Amazing stories of war, but more the pieces after war. Her writing is poetic but not in the annoying kind of way, she describes africa is such a way that I can smell, taste, feel the land. Read this book, it's as simple as that.

  • Robin
    2019-06-14 10:45

    I thought this was an amazing book. I have read a lot of books about wars in Africa and this non-fiction account gives a very human side of the repercussions of war. Alexandra travels with a war veteran to Mozambique, where his fighting took place and he and his comrades relive some of the horrors. No pictures of K, but an interesting pet lion scene.

  • Lori
    2019-06-11 09:39

    Alexander Fuller ALWAYS provides the reader with a interesting story. Every book, she has written, has given me what appears to be a very personal, genuine, and thoroughly entertaining experience of her life in Africa.

  • Hannah Ward
    2019-06-05 07:02


  • Linda
    2019-05-31 05:57

    This book did not engage me as much as her other books.

  • Kevin Pedersen
    2019-06-16 10:40

    A look at the post-war trauma faced by soldiers, through the eyes of a writer who grew up in Rhodesia (now Zambia) and worries she might have been rooting for the wrong side. She decides to take a trip back through the Rhodesia/Mozambique war zone with a larger-than-life veteran, "K." It's a solid character study with some memorable lines and almost cartoon details... K claims to have been in hundreds of fights (and casually asserts that he never lost) and at one point, to protect the writer, he sucker-punches a lion. But as the story goes on, K's superhero facade reveals itself as a cover and Alexandra gets a look at the trauma underneath, including a major family loss and a disturbing revelation that he is responsible for a pretty heinous war crime.The book, to its credit, doesn't claim any ability to tell us how we are supposed to feel about that.

  • Kathy
    2019-06-07 06:49

    Written as a sequel to Don't Let's Go To The Dogs Tonight, this book paints a unique picture of contemporary Africa. Alexandra's (Bobo's) parents still live a hard-drinking life in Zambia, running a fish farm. While on a Christmas visit she meets K, then returns to do a road trip with him, seeking some explanation for the war that he had fought in when she was a child growing up in Zimbabwe and wondering what it (independence from Britain) was all about. She still has a naivete that is hard to believe, and she left her children in Wyoming to risk her life on this trip, but at the same time she's wise and endearing in many ways, and it's a compelling story.