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American Poems: Books: Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier
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Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier

  • List Price: $16.00
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  • Seller:BookGuyz
  • Sales Rank:133,845
  • Languages:English (Unknown), English (Original Language), English (Published)
  • Media:Paperback
  • Number Of Items:1
  • Pages:272
  • Shipping Weight (lbs):0.5
  • Dimensions (in):8.3 x 4.6 x 0.5
  • Publication Date:April 26, 2005
  • ISBN:0143035010
  • EAN:9780143035015
  • ASIN:0143035010
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Editorial Reviews:
Synopsis

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

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

Amazon.com Review
Thomas Wolfe's trusted axiom about not being able to go home again gets a compelling spin through the African veldt in Alexandra Fuller's Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier. Fuller (Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight : An African Childhood) journeys through modern Zambia, to battlefields in Zimbabwe and Mozambique with the scarred veteran of the Rhodesian Wars she identifies only as "K." Intrigued by the mysterious neighbor of her parent's Zambian fish farm and further enticed by her father's warning that "curiosity scribbled the cat" ("scribbling" is Afrikaans slang for "killing"), Fuller embarks on a journey that covers as much cratered psychic landscape as it does African bush country. Though she and "K" are both African by family roots rather than blood, she quickly discovers that 30 years of civil war have scarred them--and the indigenous peoples they encounter--in markedly different ways. "K" is a figure of monumental tragedy, a decent man torn by war-fueled rage, a failed marriage, and painful memories of an only son lost to tropical disease. His adopted Christianity offers him only partial absolution, and Fuller details his gut-wrenching confessions of quarter-century old atrocities with compassion and rare insight. Her prose liberally salted with a rich, melange of Afrikaans and local Shona slang, Fuller nonetheless struggles with a narrative whose turns are often unexpected, yet driven by humanity. There's a clear sense that the author's fitful journey into the past with "K" has opened as many wounds as it has healed, and spawned more questions than it has answered. It's that discomfort and frustration that often reinforces the honesty of her prose--and reinforces Thomas Wolfe's adage yet again. --Jerry McCulley

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