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text 2017-06-27 17:08
Reading progress update: DNF at page 99
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood - Alexandra Fuller

This book is not for me. The author jumps around in time and the very short chapters plus the disjointed narration keep me from getting into the book. On top of that there isn´t a single likeable character in this whole novel and the parents are just awful. My personal favorite of parental awfulness has been:


One of the girls gets sexually assaulted and nearly raped and after having told their parents about it, their response is "Don´t exaggerate".

(spoiler show)

You would imagine that the author would have some fond feelings toward Africa, but from what I have read I got much rather the impression that she really hates the country. Guns, landmines, blown up people, dogs and the heat, there is not much more to her story. Everything is unpleasant and yet the family still persevere, eventhough war is raging around them. Based on the mothers view, this might not be surprising, though:


"Look, we fought to keep one country in Africa white-run" [...] "just one country".


"If we could have kept one country white-ruled it would be an oasis, a refuge. I mean, look, what a cock-up. Everywhere you look it´s a bloody cock-up."


I´m expecting more colonialism along the way and since I don´t like anything else about this book, I will DNF it at this point.


This has been my second free friday read for the Booklikes-opoly.


Page count: 301 pages - DNF at page 99

Money earned: $2.00


If I´m not allowed to net money for at not finished free friday read, please let me know.

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text 2017-06-24 16:49
Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 310 pages.
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood - Alexandra Fuller

Mum says, "Don´t come creeping into our room at night."

They sleep with loaded guns beside them on the bedside rugs. She says, "Don´t startle us when we´re sleeping."

"Why not?"

"We might shoot you."


"By mistake."

"Okay". As it is, there seems a good enough chance of getting shot on purpose. "Okay, I won´t."


After having read the first couple of pages yesterday, I decided to finish up Three Souls before digging into this book porperly. But now I feel more inclined to read Alexandra Fullers memoir, so I might reconcider.

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text 2017-06-23 05:54
Free friday read #2 (June 23th)
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood - Alexandra Fuller

I have heard good things about the story of Alexander Fullers childhood in Rhodesia in the 70s, so I´m happy to dig into this book starting today.

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review 2014-12-03 00:00
Leaving Before the Rains Come
Leaving Before the Rains Come - Alexandra Fuller I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Unlike most readers of this book, I suspect, I have not read Fuller's previous books, so this was my first exposure to her voice. I loved it. She is open, honest, not overly critical but also questioning. She is near a divorce and looking back on her adult life and examining how she got there. What was she looking for in marriage? As an adult, what did she expect from herself? How is her family and upbringing tangled up in all that?

I don't agree with all the choices that she made, but I don't think I need to in order to love the book. I love the writing and the characters she paints around herself. These are, of course, real people, but in a good memoir they also need to be painted as characters. Her voice is clear and strong, and her examination of her own life is inspiring.

The central question of the memoir deals with how to live with risk. Her childhood was fraught with risk, danger. She was looking to escape that when she got married, but none of really can escape it. The finanacial risk was made obvious to her when the recession of 2008 hit, but it was clear before that, as well. The discussion she has with herself in this memoir reminds me of a conversation I had with my mother years ago, when my employment was uncertain and I didn't know where I would be in a year. My mother looked confused at my complaint about the stress of uncertainty. "No one knows where they're going to be in a year,", she said. "They just think they do. You're simply better informed." So we all make choices about how ordered our lives will seem, what rules we choose to enforce. Fuller grew up without rules, and married a man who liked rules. But that seems to be a conflict she needs to resolve now in her adulthood.

In the end, I liked the writing, I liked the ideas, and I liked the author. Great read.
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review 2014-02-05 21:26
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight - Alexandra Fuller

Recommended to me by two people, I finally picked this book up from a thrift store. Once I started it, I found it hard to put down.

I'm just going to tell you now though, this is not the light pick-me-up read you may need as we near the dead of winter. Children and animals die. I'm not even going to separate that into a spoiler passage because such warnings should come standard with every book, in my opinion.

That said, this book opened my eyes to a world I'd never considered. I've never been to Africa, and I've not known many people who have spent a significant amount of time there. What I found most interesting about this book was its point of view. Fuller is the daughter of white settlers in (mostly) Rhodesia during the Rhodesian Bush Wars. She isn't the daughter of missionaries, and she's not the daughter of the local people. She's the daughter of the people who lost the war - the oppressors. She makes no excuses for the attitudes she and her family held, and just tells it as it is. It's a refreshing outlook, obviously not re-painted to make her family seem like the non-racist exception during the times. While some of the opinions and events that happened are shocking, she doesn't sugar coat them, and I can respect that.

Fuller's childhood will make your head spin. In the book there's a picture of her as a little girl wearing a white dress and holding an Uzi. She learned how to give IV's and patch bullet holes before she was ten. She was one of two out of five children to survive in her family, and as a child, she had a very legitimate fear of being killed by terrorists and then having her eyelids cut off. The book doesn't seem real, but it is, and it's important to remember that. 

In college I took a class that focused on women writers out of Africa. I read a lot of books by the first African women to publish from various African nations. I often found the books hard to follow and to relate to because I now see I had no understanding of such a world. While Fuller's experience is wildly different than those of the women of African decent, I was able to see Africa through I lens with which I am more familiar (one tinged by Western culture). While Fuller does not, nor does she claim to, speak for the local Africans of her childhood, she introduces us to how difficult life was (and probably can still be) for local people of those countries. Fuller acts as a guide in this sense, showing us a peek at a world that most Western people do not understand because we have no context to. 

I recommend this book, but only if you are willing to take on some heavy material. 

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