Alexandra Fuller: Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight An African Childhood



Ss nds and the world s madness begins She hardly bothers to blink it s as if she s a fish in the dry season in the dried up bottom of a cracking river bed waiting for rain to come and bring her to life Mum smiles but it s a slipping and damp thing she s doing with her lips which looks as much as if she s lost control of her mouth as anything Baccarat : La lgende du cristal else Her sentences and thoughts are interrupted by the cries of her dead babies To leave a child in an unmarked grave is asking for trouble She is grieving with her mind which is unhinged and her body which is alarming and leakingOTHER UOTATIONS A new home held a green leafy lie of prosperity in its jewelled fist When they stop a journey at a fancy hotels the opulence is unfamiliar the chairs were swallowingly soft The first rains were still deciding what sort of season to create It is so hot outside that the flamboyant tree outside cracks to itself as if already anticipating how it will feel to be on fire swollen clouds scrape purple fat bellies on the tops of the surrounding hills Captured wild cattle give reluctant milk andven after adding Milo milkshake powder nothing can disguise the taste of the reluctant milk A German aid worker is keen on saving the O Colégio de Todos os Segredos environment which until then I had not noticed needed saving Thex pat lives were typically March Violets (Bernie Gunther, extra marital almost incestuous affairs bred from heat and boredom and drink When they go to England for good they remember Africa with a fondness born of distance and the tangy reminder of a gin and tonicvening Review written in 2015 all time favoriteThis is by far the most remarkable memoir I ve read in years The author has that rare gift being able to speak to us through the Zoete tranen eyes and mind of the child that she was She was nicknamed bobo growing up in African during the years from 1972 through 1990This British family was always in hostile desolatenvironments moving from Rhodesia to Zambia and Malawi With the author s wry and sometimes hilarious prose we feel her Water Music encounters with mosuitoes scorpions snakes and The book also touches upon politics and racism in South and Central Africa and the relationship of blacks and white during wartimeThrough her rich descriptions of sights and sounds we know that she truly loved this land of rich pungent flora ad fauna If you read one memoir this year consider this one The author writes of growing up in the African countries of Zimbabwe Malawi and Zambia I love those books that make you want to seesmellhearfeel the countries they are describing and this is one of those I appreciated that we as whites could not own a piece of Africa but I knew with startling clarity that Africa owned meThey were poor They struggled Life wasn tasy Her mum is a manic depressive unfortunately Revived enduring the death of some of her children didn t help Mum has been diagnosed with manic depression She says All of us are mad and then adds smiling but I am the only one with a certificate to prove it lol3 Stars I liked the book I m glad I read it I almost gave this book four stars because it was very well written andvocative But I just never felt much of a connection to the book or to any of the characters The author s writing skill made it a pleasant Student Research Projects in Calculus enough read at least pleasantnough to finish But it definitely wasn t a can t put it down kind of book If I had to give concrete criticisms of the book the main one would be that she doesn t develop any characters outside of her immediately family in fact it seemed her family didn t have any substantial relationships with anyone other than ach other and ven those characters could use a bit context Why were they in Africa I mean what really motivated them to keep slogging it out in Africa really Where did their racism come from How did she feel about their racism How did her parents meet and what ties did Love for Imperfect Things either of them have to Africa before deciding to raise their kids there What motivated them to raise children in a country in which a civil war was ragingOn the other hand she writes terrific dialogue and her sensory descriptions of Africa made me feel like I was there What a fantastic read Alexandra Fuller took me on an amazing journey through her younger years growing up in Africa as a poor white girl Her parents arexpats from Britain who moved in the late 60 s to work as farm managers This memoir details her life from that time right up to the late 90 s a time period when Rhodesia now Zimbabwe was at war fighting for independence from Britain I found it fascinating to not only read of the hellish conditions but also how this young girl named Bobo deals with so many challenges She brought me right into her world one concerned with family and her daily life Only a child can see the humor in situations that would scare the crap out of me So this was not a somber read at all As a kid you have no idea your parents are racist so it can be uncomfortable to read of this families ideas of blacks but also deeply informing Truly this memoir has it all a family on the wrong side of history a mothers mental health issues constant loss death relocating and a vivid picture of the land The descriptions of the land were so dynamic and realistic I will never forget them I became a part of this book such a rare feeling I totally TOTALLY loved this book I know I tshould think a bit before I write something but I am carried away by my A Heart of Stone emotions I love the family all of them How can I love them they are so very far from any way I could live my own life but nevertheless I love them to pieces Their lives are hard but they get through one step at a time They know what is important They don t demand too much Oh the mother my heart bled for her I know she is manic but who wouldn t be living through what she does Africa is hard but on the other si. Pitable place it is suffused with Fuller’sndearing ability to find laughter ven when there is little to celebrate Fuller’s debut is unsentimental and unflinching but al.

The memoirs of the childhood of a white girl Alexandra known as Bobo raised on African farms in the 1970s and 1980s along with her sister Vanessa But it s not a gilded x pat life her parents lose their farm in forced land distribution after which they are itinerant farm managers who move where the work is often to disease ridden and war torn areas They also have their own problems with bereavement and alcohol It is perhaps closer to misery lit although the tone is mostly light and the worst Language and Linguistics episodes glossed over It is told in a chatty and slightly childish and rambling style she is a child for most of the book mostly in the present tense This means the precise seuence ofvents is not always clear but overall it is an Divertimento endearing insight into some troubled lives and times It does rather fizzle out at thend thoughUOTIDIAN DANGERThe opening is a startling demonstration of how mundane life threatening danger can become Mum says Don t come creeping into our room at night They sleep with loaded guns beside them Why not We might shoot you Not very reassuring to a small child who might want a parent at night By the age of 5 all children are taught to handle a gun and shoot to kill There are many xamples throughout the book For instance the parents buy a mine proofed Land Rover with a siren to scare terrorists but actually its only use is to announce their arrival at parties At the airport officials wave their guns at me casually hostile IDENTITY AND NOT BELONGINGThe Fullers are white and apparently upper middle class but heavily in debt though they manage to pay school fees Mum says We have breeding which is better than having money and they re pretty bad at managing what little money they do have Often they live in homes that are really dilapidated and lacking basic facilitiesBobo feels neither African where she spends most of her childhood nor British where she was born At a mixed race primary school she is teased for being sunburnt and asked Where are you from originally and when at a white school that then admits African children learns what it is like to be xcluded by language they talk Shona to Promise at Dawn each other She is also very aware of her family s thick lips contrasting with their pale skin and blonde hairRACEOne aspect that some have objected to is the attitude and language relating to the Africans However as I read it Fuller is merely describing how things really were casual and sometimes benevolent racism were the norm As a small child she resists punishment by saying Then I ll fire you which is awful but reflects a degree of truth and similarly her disgust at using a cup that might have been used by an African is a learned reaction However as she grows older and uestioning it s clear she is no racist It would be very sad if fear of offence made it impossible to describe the past honestly though the list of terms by which white Rhodesians referred to black ones might be unnecessaryI suppose you could argue she should have done to challenge the views around her such as when Mum is bemoaning the fact that she wants just one country in Africa to stay white run but she was only a child at this pointIn her parents defence they treated their African staff pretty well including providing free first aid help despite the fact they were so short of money they had to pawn Mum s jewellery to buy seedach year then claim it back if the harvest was good When our tobacco sells well we are rich for a day Only a dayWhat to make of an observation like this Africans whose hatred reflects the sun like a mirror into our faces impossible to ignoreThere is beautifully written passage describing driving through a European settlement and then Tribal Trust Lands there are flowering shrubs and trees planted at picturesue intervals The verges of the road have been mown to reveal neat upright barbed wire fencing and fields of army straight tobacco or placidly grazing cattle shiny and plump with sweet pasture In contrast the tribal lands are blown clear of vegetation Spiky uphorbia hedges which bleed poisonous burning milk when their stems are broken poke greenly out of otherwise barren worn soil The schools wear the blank faces of war buildings their windows blown blind by rocks or guns or mortars Their plaster is an acne of bullet marks The huts and small houses crouch open and vulnerable Children and chickens and dos scratch in the red raw soil and stare at us as we drive thought their open roding lives Those are not the words of a racistDEPRESSION TRAUMA ALCOHOLISMThere are some very dark Bangkok Wakes to Rain episodes including deaths and at one pointven the dogs are depressed and yet the book itself is not depressing For instance the four stages of Mum s drunken behaviour in front of visitors is treated humourously More troublingly a victim of a sexual assault is just told not to The Right Sort of Man (Sparks Bainbridge Mystery exaggerate and the whole thing brushed away There isually casual acceptance of the children smoking and drinking from a young ageThere is fun but also a lack of overt love particularly touching the many dogs are far luckier in this respect aged only 7 Bobo notes Mum hardly Darkmere even lets me hold her hand That is a legacy of multiple hurt and grief and the conseuent problems Then there is a life changing tragedy for which Bobo feels responsible My life is sliced in half Afterwards Mum and Dad s joyful carelessmbrace of life is sucked away like water swirling down a drainA later tragedy has severe conseuences and these passages are described painfully In the morning when she s just on the pills she s very sleepy and calm and slow and deliberate like someone who isn t sure where her body nds and the world starts When Mum is drugged and sad and singing it is a contained soggy madness but then it starts to get hard for me to know mere Mum s madne. In Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight Alexandra Fuller remembers her African childhood with candor and sensitivity Though it is a diary of an unruly life in an often inhos.

De I grew to truly love it OK I couldn t live there but this author made me love Africa and that is strange because it has so many problems there is so much wrong so much that has to be fixed The dialog is beautiful Mum has been diagnosed with manic depression She says All of us are mad and then adds smiling but I am the only one with a certificate to prove it The photos are straight from the family album You see the kids the one s that survive growing up I dye Mum s hair a streaky porcupine blonde and shave my legs just to see if I need to Vanessa xperiments with Den of Shadows (Gamblers Den eye shadow and looks as if she has been punched I try and make meringues and the resulting glue isaten clench jawed dutifulness by my family Mum Scraps Of The Untainted Sky encourages me not to waste preciousggs on any cooking projects I learn what I hope are the words to Bizet s Carmen and sing the The Eric Carle Gift Set entire opera to the dogs I smoke in front of the mirror and try to look like a hardened sex goddess Vanessa declares hopelessly that she is thinking of running away from home I stare out at the nothingness into which she would run and say I ll come with you Mum says Me too And then when the author gets married on the way to the ceremony sitting in the car with her father who is now driving and has just handed her a gin and tonic to combat both nerves and a persistent case of malaria her father says You re not bad looking once they scrape the mud off you and put you in a dressThis family is so real You learn to love Africa despite all its troubles As the tension builds in the novel the author knows when it has reached the breaking point and throws in some humor As in life when times are bad you pick up the pieces take a deep breath and go one What other choice do you haveAnd of course you learn about Rhodesia Zimbabwe Zambia and Malawi This is one of my top ten favorite books of all time Anxtremely compelling memoir well written poignant but not maudlin or precious I ve read it twice and feel another reread coming onThe brutal honesty in this story is startling and Fuller does not set out to insert political or social critiue into her story This is probably unsettling for readers who come face to face with her family s colonialist attitudes and Huguenot Prophecy and Clandestine Worship in the Eighteenth Century expect to hear her criticize and critiue them However I prefer that Fuller let the story stand on its own The book doesn t set out to dissect Issues but rather to tell one particular and it is a particularly heartbreaking frightening disturbing visceral and funny one story Deciding to read memoirs again I picked up Alexandra Fuller s Don t Let s Go to the Dogs Tonight first read about 6 or 7 years ago Injoyed this book Fuller s memoir uickly draws the reader into her girlhood growing up in Africa with candor and humor Fuller weaves her story back and forth between an intimate portrait of her family and the violence surrounding them Violence is not just a backdrop this violence and the lack of political stability in the countries she grows up in shapes her family and contributes to her mother s descent into alcoholism and madness It doesn t sound like there should humor here but Fuller pulls it off without sounding callous and Fashion Design Course even with a certain amount of warmth Whenever I read an autobiography I compare my childhoodxperiences with those of the author What was happening in my life at that age How would I have behaved under those circumstances With this book the comparisons were difficult to make I can t imagine growing up amid so much tumult and violence and uncertainty Not to mention numerous inconveniences and an abundance of creepy and dangerous vermin I m glad I didn t grow up in a place where terrorists were so common that they were referred to as terrs And scorpions were so common that they called them scorps And I m uite grateful that my first day of school photo does not feature me clutching an Uzi for protectionAlexandra Bobo Fuller writes about her Aeralis (The Frost Chronicles, experiences in a strangely unsentimental matter of fact way Be it fear fun or heartbreaking loss all is recorded withual detachment Maybe it s just her writing style but I wondered if a young life filled with danger and uncertainty and pain taught her not to feel anything too deeply If Fuller s family and friends are any indication it would appear that white people can only cope with African life through heavy boozing Full grown adults with families drink like college boys on a bender I guess it helps them handle the stress and loneliness and tolerate the intense heat But it made me a little ueasy thinking about the hangovers they must have suffered I did like the story about the Alternatives Chapter 2 (The Chronos Files; The Shattered Saga exploding Christmas cake though Nothing like a little flambe to brighten your holiday HA For me the book was both informative andntertaining Also uite sad at times but never melodramatically so It opened my Cincinnati and Other Plays eyes to still of the complexities that are the very definition of Africa The residual colonial attitudes were also uite a revelation to meThe writing isxcellent if a little disjointed at times It s written mostly in present tense the curse of my Speak Out! existence If not for that I might have gone with five stars Find all of my reviews at only reason I read this is because Alexandra Fuller provided the cover blurb for Where the Crawdads Sing I m notven sorry I Like You the Best either because I probably would never have heard of this memoir otherwise Alexandra Fuller s family arrived in Rhodesia via way of Darby England in 1966 when she was only a toddler This is the story of her childhood as a farming family in what originally was a country ran by whites under British rule through the revolution where Rhodesia became Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe s control It is a tale of strength in both body and spirit about a family constantly fighting the odds yet somehow never uite giving up With. Ways captivating In wry and sometimes hilarious prose she stares down disaster and looks back with rage and love at the life of anxtraordinary family in an xtraordinary tim.

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Alexandra 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 Sold