Free Reading Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African ChildhoodAuthor Alexandra Fuller – Blockdiagramwiring.co
I readCocktail hour under the tree of Forgetfulnessfirst, and found this book too repetitive although it was written first I loved Cocktail hour.However, I enjoyed Alexandra Fuller s candor, honesty, wit and great writing style as usual I somehow had enough now for a while of all the hardship, tragedy, hurt, and everything else related to the wars in Africa and everywhere else I have experienced much the same as Alexandra Fuller, being part of the revolutionary times, the same wars, as she did I can probably write my own version of it as well, but I don t want to.She says inCocktail hour under the tree of Forgetfulness No one starts a war warning that those involved will lose their innocence that children will definitely die and be forever lost as a result of the conflict that the war will not end for generations and generations, even after cease fire have been declared and peace of treaties have been signedI have read quite a few war related memoirs lately and it is getting to me I need some balance now.Besides, reading all the books about war, including the Second World War, the Holocaust events, the French Revolution, Africa and Asian wars, we can conclude that nobody should complain since the person standing next to you might have had it much worse a thought fromSmall Islandwritten by Andrea Levy.I will definitely find her other books to read, she s worth it I just need a break right now. Whenever I read an autobiography, I compare my childhood experiences 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 quite grateful that my first day of school photo does not feature me clutching an Uzi for protection.Alexandra Bobo Fuller writes about her experiences in a strangely unsentimental, matter of fact way Be it fear, fun, or heartbreaking loss, all is recorded with equal 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 queasy thinking about the hangovers they must have suffered I did like the story about the exploding Christmas cake, though Nothing like a little flambe to brighten your holiday HA For me the book was both informative and entertaining Also quite sad at times, but never melodramatically so It opened my eyes to still of the complexities that are the very definition of Africa The residual colonial attitudes were also quite a revelation to me.The writing is excellent, if a little disjointed at times It s written mostly in present tense, the curse of my existence If not for that, I might have gone with five stars. 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 Inhospitable Place, It Is Suffused With Fuller S Endearing Ability To Find Laughter, Even When There Is Little To Celebrate Fuller S Debut Is Unsentimental And Unflinching But Always Captivating In Wry And Sometimes Hilarious Prose, She Stares Down Disaster And Looks Back With Rage And Love At The Life Of An Extraordinary Family In An Extraordinary Time 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 I enjoyed this book Fuller s memoir quickly 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 even with a certain amount of warmth. Review written in 2015, all time favorite This 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 eyes and mind of the child that she was She was nicknamed bobo , growing up in African during the years from 1972 through 1990.This British family was always in hostile, desolate environments, moving from Rhodesia to Zambia and Malawi With the author s wry and sometimes hilarious prose, we feel her encounters with mosquitoes, scorpions, snakes and The book also touches upon politics and racism in South and Central Africa and the relationship of blacks and white during wartime.Through 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 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 are expats 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 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 side 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 experiments with eye shadow and looks as if she has been punched I try and make meringues and the resulting glue is eaten clench jawed dutifulness by my family Mum encourages me not to waste precious eggs on any cooking projects I learn what I hope are the words to Bizet s Carmen and sing the 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 dress This 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 have And of course you learn about Rhodesia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. 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 not even sorry 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 quite giving up With moments of extreme sadness that are counterbalanced by a delightful sense of humorCan I help you We can t trust anyone any Not even white men It is only then we see that both men are armed with thick shiny black Bibles Mum shuffles her gun behind her back Oh shit, Jesus creepers Bible outstretched, hand extended He introduces himself and his partner And we re here to tell you about the Lord He s American I start to giggle Mum sighs Well, come in for a cup of tea, anyway, she says. Recommended to fans of The Glass Castle. I almost gave this book four stars because it was very well written and evocative 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 enough read at least, pleasant enough 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 each other , and even 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 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 raging On the other hand, she writes terrific dialogue and her sensory descriptions of Africa made me feel like I was there. 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, Van essa But it s not a gilded, ex 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 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 sequence of events is not always clear, but overall, it is an endearing insight into some troubled lives and times It does rather fizzle out at the end, though.QUOTIDIAN 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 examples 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 facilities.Bobo 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 excluded by language they talk Shona to each other She is also very aware of her family s thick lips, contrasting with their pale skin and blonde hair.RACEOne 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 questioning, 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 unnecessary.I 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 point.In 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 seed each year, then claim it back if the harvest was good When our tobacco sells well, we are rich for a day Only a day.What to make of an observation like this Africans whose hatred reflects the sun like a mirror into our faces, impossible to ignore There is beautifully written passage describing driving through a European settlement and then Tribal Trust Lands there are flowering shrubs and trees planted at picturesque 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 euphorbia 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, eroding lives Those are not the words of a racist.DEPRESSION, TRAUMA, ALCOHOLISMThere are some very dark episodes including deaths , and at one point, even 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 exaggerate, and the whole thing brushed away There is equally casual acceptance of the children smoking and drinking from a young age.There 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 even lets me hold her hand That is a legacy of multiple hurt and grief and the consequent 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 careless embrace of life is sucked away, like water swirling down a drain A later tragedy has severe consequences, 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 ends 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 madness ends 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 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 leaking.OTHER QUOTATIONS 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 and even after adding Milo milkshake powder, nothing can disguise the taste of the reluctant milk A German aid worker is keen on saving the environment, which, until then, I had not noticed needed saving The ex pat lives were typically 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 tonic evening.