Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight

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Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight

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After the central tragedy of the book, Fuller’s mother goes from being a “fun drunk to a crazy sad drunk”, and Fuller feels responsible for that too. While giving a sense of the continent’s political shifts, she mostly focuses on her own family: the four-person circus that was Bobo (that’s her), Van (her older sister Vanessa), Dad, and Mum (an occasionally hospitalized manic-depressive alcoholic who lost three children) – not to mention an ever-changing menagerie of horses, dogs and other pets. The mosquito coils, the baobab trees, the explosion of day birds, the greasy fish stews over rice, the smells of black tea, cut tobacco, fresh fire, old sweat, young grass. Then my mind would wander to America, and how parents took their kids across it in covered wagons, and how dangerous that was because sometimes entire families were killed or died from starvation or other causes.

When, in 1980, the Rhodesian Bush War ends, Fuller and her family move from there to Malawi, then to Zambia, taking over various farms, always barely scraping by, navigating snakes, gunshots, societal shifts and family tragedies.

The latter was effective since Fuller doesn't get bogged down in the day-to-day mendacity that is life and she can focus on events and stories that give a full picture to growing up (white) in Africa. 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. Her reviews have appeared in the New York Times Book Review; The Financial Times and the Toronto Globe and Mail. 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.

Even when it comes to her parents’, her white neighbours’, or black officials’ racist attitudes (to one another and to Indian merchants), she doesn’t excuse or condemn anyone; she lets their words and actions speak for themselves. Her mother, in turn, flung herself at their African life and its rugged farm work with the same passion and maniacal energy she brought to everything else. This is a profoundly personal story about growing up with a pair of funny, tough, white African settlers, and living with their "sometimes breathlessly illogical decisions", as they move from war-torn Zimbabwe to disease and malnutrition in Malawi, and finally the "beautiful and fertile" land of Zambia.Fuller weaves together painful family tragedy with a wider understanding of the ambivalence of being part of a separatist white farming community in the midst of Black African independence. 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. She nurtured her daughters in other ways: She taught them, by example, to be resilient and self-sufficient, to have strong wills and strong opinions, and to embrace life wholeheartedly, despite and because of difficult circumstances. I loved the use of language, the strung-together adjectives and the powerful descriptions of the essence of Africa - the sheer enormity of the land, the harsh, unforgiving climate, the beauty that overwhelms the senses every single day.

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. They love each other not because they as individuals are sympathetic, but because together they survived both Africa and a tumultuous family life. This is the only hint of commentary that really came through, with the implication that this was the first time Fuller started re-evaluating what she had been told to think her entire life, instead reflecting on her firsthand experiences. She relates what her upbringing was like - the good and the bad - and leaves the reader to think for themselves, not breaking the pace of the narrative with reassurances. Shortlisted for the Guardian First Book award, a story of civil war and a family's unbreakable bond.I know that a lot of people find great enjoyment from repeat readings, discovering new layers to the story and gaining a better understanding of the book. I have experienced much the same as Alexandra Fuller, being part of the revolutionary times, the same wars, as she did. But when a rambunctiously itchy young Fuller shrilly demands that the two family servants examine her "on my downthere, man" to assess and relieve the itch, the servants take refuge by (entirely reasonably) feigning deafness.

Her parents’ wildness is now terrifying to their children and the war seems, at times, just an extension of that fear: “then the outside world starts to join in and has a nervous breakdown all its own, so that it starts to get hard for me to know where Mum’s madness ends and the world’s madness begins”.

Her father drives her to her wedding in full rig, dress, veil, bouquet, and they talk about the fields along the road.

  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
  • Sold by: Fruugo

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