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Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier | [Alexandra Fuller]

Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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 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. 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.

©2004 Alexandra Fuller; (P)2004 Recorded Books

What the Critics Say

"Fuller's unflinching look at K, war, and even herself makes for an extremely powerful book, one that takes readers into a complex, deep-seated, and ongoing conflict and sees through to its heart. Fuller is a truly gifted and insightful writer." (Booklist)
"Fuller evokes place and character with the vivid prose that distinguished her unflinching memoir of growing up in Africa." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (130 )
5 star
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4.0 (53 )
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4.3 (52 )
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  •  
    G. Robinson Philadelphia, PA 06-27-04
    G. Robinson Philadelphia, PA 06-27-04 Listener Since 2003

    crusoe

    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
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    2
    1
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    Overall
    "Astonishing"

    This is truly an amazing book by a very interesting lady. One cannot help but admire the brutal honesty of her writing and her determination to grow at any cost. One wonders however what her husband thinks of her adventures.

    This book is far stranger than "Don't ... Dogs Tonight", but is equally compelling. For me, it has the same ability to transport me back to Africa that "... Dogs..." had which does not just mean evoking past experiences, sights and smells. Once in a while I had to shake myself and remind myself that I live in the US.

    Having known many Ks, the description of K and his friends ring very true. If I had the honesty and integrity of the author, I would have to say here that it also revealed some small hidden parts of myself to me.

    I enjoyed this book thoroughly and was sorry when I got to the end of it, but am reluctant to make a blanket recommendation of it as I imagine that some readers may find it more than a little weird. However, if you have a strong stomach and would like to try something different, then this is your book.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angie Kansas City, MO, United States 10-02-06
    Angie Kansas City, MO, United States 10-02-06 Member Since 2005

    Immigration lawyer in Kansas City. I like Character driven dramas, fantasy (monsters, magic and witches oh my!) and coming of age stories. Favs include: The Book Thief, The Game of Throne series, Harry Potter Series, Dresden Files, Nightside series, anything by Neil Gaimen, 100 Years of Solitude.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    371
    ratings
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    588
    167
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    49
    3
    Overall
    "Good narration"

    I would have preferred to give this book 3 1/2 stars, but the program will not allow it. I just loved DOn't Let's Go the Dogs Tonight and I could not wait to liste to this book. While I did find it interesting Don't Lets Go was a far better and more engaging story.

    I might have liked this one more had I not just listened to the first. Alexandra Fuller is an excellent writter and this book is no exception. The story, however was rambling and I never quite got into it like I did the story of her childhood.

    The narrrator, however was brillant as always, I have listened to her narrate the Number 1 Ladies'Detective Agency series and just love love love her.

    I am glad I listened to this book, but it was not one of my favorites.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Derek Union, KY, United States 08-10-09
    Derek Union, KY, United States 08-10-09 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "So what."

    Parts of this book were very good. Others were painful. I just couldn't get past the author. She went to great lengths to get a story, but it really wasn't much of a story. I'd pass on this one.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark WoodbridgeUnited Kingdom 12-22-04
    Mark WoodbridgeUnited Kingdom 12-22-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
    23
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    12
    5
    FOLLOWERS
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    "What a disappointment."

    I expected far more from this book after "Don?t Lets ....Tonight". I found K unbelievable and a complete contrast to Rhodesian War veterans I have known.

    Scribbling the Cat dwells on atrocities from one side only and is steeped with guilt. It would have done a better service to be more balanced and to reflect the War from all sides of the conflict.

    Having been so impressed with the first book I went into this one expecting something special and did not find it.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Voler APO AE Iraq 06-16-12
    Voler APO AE Iraq 06-16-12 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating, superbly read, rationed my listening!"
    What made the experience of listening to Scribbling the Cat the most enjoyable?

    Tough, truthful unadorned writing, no politically correct cant, regardless of personal opinions of the author, she didn't impose them on the story.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Scribbling the Cat?

    Visiting the lion-owning veteran on the island with K


    Which character – as performed by Lisette Lecat – was your favorite?

    K


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Scenes with the two veterans revising Mozambique


    Any additional comments?

    I grew up as an expat in Asia and shared similar experiences. I remember hearing of the war although I didn't experience it. Nothing in the book sounded false or overladen with the pious earnestness, nay, sanctimoniousness so common in American and other muddle-headed authors on the subject. Bravo, Ms. Fuller...and K was right to let you tell your story and only get back in touch with you after you had finished the book. Bless him!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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