Scribbling the Cat : Travels with an African Soldier


When Alexandra "Bo" Fuller was in Zambia a few years ago visiting her parents, 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: "Curiosity scribbled the cat," he told Bo. 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 beautiul prose that won her such acclaim for Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Fuller here recounts her friendship with K.

He is, seemingly, a man of contradictions. Tattooed, battle-scarred, and weathered by farm work, K 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 welling up inside with memories of battle. For his war, like all wars, was a brutal one, marked by racial strife, jungle battles, brutal tortures, and the murdering of innocent civilians. Like all the veterans of the war, 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. What results from Fuller's journey is a remarkably unbiased and unsentimental glimpse at 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.


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