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Scribbling the Cat

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  3,859 Ratings  ·  371 Reviews
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 as being a tough bugger. Her father's response was a warning to steer clear of him: Curiosity scibbled the cat, he told her. Nonetheless, Fuller began her strange friendhip with the man she calls K, a white African and veteran of the ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 3rd 2005 by Picador USA (first published January 1st 2004)
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Andrew Dale Yes, it definitely resonated with me after having lived and traveled in the southern African region for a few years. I felt like I recognized the…moreYes, it definitely resonated with me after having lived and traveled in the southern African region for a few years. I felt like I recognized the characters in people I have met in my own life. But I think it could be difficult for someone who hasn't met those types of characters to empathize quite as much with the storyline.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Chrissie
This is the only author that I have given every single one of the books they have written five stars. What is amazing then?
-Her writing. Every line reads like poetry.
-The content. There is so much to think about in Fuller's books. Only on the surface did this book concern the Rhodesian War. It is much more about making sense of our lives, about terror and promises and love. How low can a human being go? And how do we then pick ourselves up and go on? We all have our own demons, how do we get b
...more
Judy
May 31, 2014 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fuller fans & Around-the-World-ers
Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier draws the reader in with a dose of the familiar: Bobo, her Mom and Dad drinking together in Africa. But no, this isn't another Fuller family memoir - it is a collection of confessions by K, a former Rhodesian soldier.

K is a very strange man. I never could get a handle on where he was coming from. He clearly suffered from guilt of his past, confusion of where he wanted his life to go and what he believed. K could cuss and praise God in the same
...more
Magdelanye

What is it about uncouth 'manly' men that attracts free spirited women?
Alexandra Fuller, leaving her American husband and two children at 'home' in suburban Wyoming,makes an extended Christmas visit to her folks at 'home' on their fish farm in Zambia. In an attempt to come to terms with her past, and not completely comfortable with her new life situation, she seeks to understand the violent events that occurred in her families lifetime,growing up in Rhodesia. She is drawn to K, an ex-soldier
...more
sarah  corbett morgan
May 17, 2009 sarah corbett morgan rated it it was amazing
Beautiful writing. Haunting story. Like many others who have reviewed this book, I was all set to rip into Fuller for her hinted-at lifestyle and her behavior on the road with these gents. Then, about half way through the book, I realized she has achieved the writer's ultimate goal in writing memoir: she simply lets the reader observe her in action. By seeing her we come to know Fuller and we can draw our own opinions. Some will like her, others not.

It is a brilliantly written book which I high
...more
Christie
Feb 02, 2011 Christie rated it really liked it
Fuller was born in England and moved, with her family, to Rhodesia when she was 3. Here’s an even more interesting fact: Fuller received her B.A. from Acadia University. Since I live next door to Nova Scotia - I feel a certain kinship to her now; she’s an honorary Maritimer!

Scribbling the Cat is Fuller’s story of ‘K’, a man she meets on a trip back to Zambia to visit her parents who still live and work there. Fuller has left her husband and two children behind in the States. She does a wonderful
...more
Sharman Russell
Jun 11, 2016 Sharman Russell rated it really liked it
Alexandra Fuller is such a talented writer--and funny. Smart and funny, a wonderful combination. Scribbling the Cat is her description of K, a man she pursues as a writer--someone she wants to write about. K is a white African soldier struggling through his memories and experiences of the Rhodesian War. By necessity, the author only gets at the surface of things. She is with K a relatively short time. She never knows him well. So we never do, either. It's all impressionistic, anecdotal, fleeting ...more
Kirsty
Feb 21, 2010 Kirsty rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
On a visit to her parent’s farm in Zambia, Zimbabwean author Alexandra Fuller encounters the enigmatic K, a crazed, battle-scarred veteran of the Rhodesian war and a devout born-again Christian. “Curiosity scribbled the cat,” warns Alexandra’s father as she attempts to find out more about the ex-soldier and the brutal war that shaped her childhood. She ignores his advice and, fascinated with K, she leaves her comfortable life in America, to travel with him through the battlefields of the Rhodesi ...more
Sue
Dec 03, 2011 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author grew up in Zimbabwe while it was still Rhodesia, during the war. After the war, the family moved on from there. She is now living in the States with family; her parents remain in Zambia. The story opens with her traveling to Zambia to spend Christmas with her parents. During her visit she meets a farmer identified only as K. He was a member of a Special Forces group during the war. Alexandra makes a couple more trips to Zambia over the next couple years and, on one of those occasions ...more
David
Dec 15, 2008 David rated it liked it
The author, now living in the USA, returns to Africa to visit her aging parents. When her father is reluctant to tell of his part in the Rhodesian war, she goes in search of other sources. She meets a man she calls only "K", a veteran of the Rhodesian Light Infantry, an all-white unit with a reputation for lethality. Fuller convinces him to travel with her to Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) and Mozambique in search of insight. Along the way, he revisits his memories of a brutal war he fought agains ...more
Christopher Roth
Sep 21, 2014 Christopher Roth rated it liked it
This book is about a white veteran of Rhodesia's Chimurenga War who is haunted by the past, but it's disturbing in more ways than the author intends. It is really hard to not dislike the author intensely once you read between the lines of what went into this book. First, Fuller, raised in Africa by white settlers but now living in the U.S., publishes a memoir of her childhood in Rhodesia (which I have not read but may yet, if only out of morbid curiosity) which becomes an unexpected runaway best ...more
Amanda Patterson
Aug 06, 2011 Amanda Patterson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Alexandra Fuller’s first memoir, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2002, a national best-seller and a finalist in the Guardian first book award.

Scribbling the Cat is Alexandra Fuller's story about her friendship with K, a white veteran of the Rhodesian War. Her father tells her to leave him alone.
"Curiosity scribbled the cat," he says.

But Fuller travels with him back to Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia). The book is a savage memoir of the brutal war K fought. Th
...more
Larry Bassett
Sep 04, 2016 Larry Bassett rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, africa

"K and I met and journeyed and clashed like titans. And, at the end of it all, he asked me not to contact him again. Instead of giving each other some kind of peace and understanding, we had inflamed existing wounds. Far from being a story of reconciliation and understanding, this ended up being a story about what happens when you stand on tiptoe and look too hard into your own past and into the things that make us war-wounded the fragile, haunted, powerful men-women that we are. K and I fell he
...more
Linda
Mar 22, 2015 Linda rated it liked it
Shelves: africa
"Scribble" - to kill; as depicted in the end of the book Glossary's guide to the idiosyncratic mix of slang and languages used in the text.

Scribbling the Cat - any little kid (at least from my youth)knows what killed the cat - curiosity. And curiosity is what propels Alexandra Fuller, as an adult and a former Rhodesian to want to know more about a war that tore the country apart during the 80's. To accomplish this mission Fuller revisits her parents in South Africa and persuades a former soldier
...more
Heather
May 04, 2009 Heather rated it it was ok
I read this book in one day - a long day of traveling, actually, so maybe that was just a fluke. If i hadn't had anything else to read and if my iPod hadn't died some days before, I probably would have put this down long before finishing.

I'm still processing this book. I think what bothered me about it was the fact that while I was reading it, i kept thinking, "Why on earth was this book even written? As some kind of catharsis for the author?" and basically that's probably the case. Fuller gets
...more
Stacy
Sep 28, 2011 Stacy rated it it was amazing
Most writers are unable to clearly see a book through from start to finish. Most writers forget to continue the descriptive prose that keeps the reader in the moment. Most writers cannot separate their personal lives from their writers lives. Most writers are not A. Fuller.
It was difficult for me not to read a few "reviews" about this book before I began. I am usually not one to need another's opinion before I read as it seems to throw paint on my blank canvas. I need a very blank canvas when b
...more
Belle
Apr 02, 2015 Belle rated it did not like it
After reading Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, I thought I would try another of Alexandra Fuller's books and I expected the same openness in Scribbling the Cat. Unfortunately I found this book somewhat guarded.

While the author was visiting her parents she met and developed a relationship with a lonely war veteran farmer (K) and from this relationship this book was born. In fact without this relationship there would never have been a book.

As soon as K was introduced I thought to m
...more
Alison
Nov 18, 2010 Alison rated it really liked it
Alexandra Fuller is a white African who grew up during the Rhodesian War. She goes on a road trip with a charismatic but haunted veteran of the war, retracing his steps and confronting his demons. While you can't help questioning the author's sanity for taking this journey with someone who clearly has a screw loose, it is a close up look at atrocities that have occurred in that part of the world. And while you want to dislike the racist white Africans that you encounter throughout the book, Full ...more
Donna
Jun 18, 2012 Donna rated it really liked it
Africa is mostly a mystery to me though I have recently read a number of books about different times and places in Africa. In this memoir, the author travels with a white African fighter from the Rhodesian war for independence which is not nearly as concise as it sounds. The various fighting groups from Rhodesia, Zambia, Mozambique, and eventually Zimbabwe were interwoven and overlapped so that killing became a lifestyle of competing guerilla groups. I can't help but think that while I was livin ...more
Leanna
Dec 29, 2013 Leanna rated it it was amazing
I love the way this woman writes and I give this one more star than Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness which I read right before this book. To me, there is one paragraph that was so provocative I went back into the book to find it because she puts a philosophy into words that I want to meditate on:
"I don't think we have all the words in a single vocabulary to explain what we are or why we are. I don't think we have the range of emotion to fully feel what someone else is feeling. I don
...more
Kieron
Oct 07, 2012 Kieron rated it really liked it
Having personally lived through the war period in Zambia, it was easy for me to relate to this book. Gutsy Alexandra Fuller transports you into the very hearts of the guys lost in a battle-free battle zone, men disturbed and scarred by a seemingly fruitless war.
Strangely, I was left wondering what her husband might have thought of her endeavours. K (the main character) seems to have been turned inside-out by what she put him through. Her accuracy in relation to how these stateless fellows speak
...more
Jen
A good character study of "K", the white African former soldier that Fuller meets and becomes intrigued by on a visit home to her parents in Zambia--but less successful as an entire book. I can see why she wanted to write about him, but I don't think she found the right hook for her story. She seemed to think traveling into his dark past from the war would help her understand something in herself...but hers was less a heart of darkness and more a spleen of discontent. Still, Fuller has a way wit ...more
Galena
May 04, 2015 Galena rated it it was amazing
I will read anything by Alexandra Fuller. I may have drifted a bit toward neglect with Ripley as I read this book but it was worth it! Amazing stories of war, but more the pieces after war. Her writing is poetic but not in the annoying kind of way, she describes africa is such a way that I can smell, taste, feel the land. Read this book, it's as simple as that.
Robin
Nov 23, 2009 Robin rated it it was amazing
I thought this was an amazing book. I have read a lot of books about wars in Africa and this non-fiction account gives a very human side of the repercussions of war. Alexandra travels with a war veteran to Mozambique, where his fighting took place and he and his comrades relive some of the horrors. No pictures of K, but an interesting pet lion scene.
Lori
Dec 12, 2015 Lori rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Alexander Fuller ALWAYS provides the reader with a interesting story. Every book, she has written, has given me what appears to be a very personal, genuine, and thoroughly entertaining experience of her life in Africa.
Linda
Apr 09, 2013 Linda rated it liked it
This book did not engage me as much as her other books.
Melki
Dec 02, 2016 Melki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"When I die and I go up there and Jesus Christ asks me what I did with my life, I'll say to him, 'I hope you have a long time to sit and listen, because do I have a story for you!'"

"Curiosity scribbled the cat."


My husband read this when it was published back in 2004. Usually he forgets what a book is about in a year or so, sometimes in less time than that, but when he saw me taking this one off the shelf he said, "You probably shouldn't read that. It will probably upset you." Well, nothing encou
...more
Jessica Osburn
Dec 22, 2016 Jessica Osburn rated it really liked it
what amazing stories and so easy to read - great writing, she is amazing. I was happy for the followup at the end as I feel the journey home was a bit abbreviated. didn't feel sugar-coated. . . any of it. growing up and living in Africa wasn't made out to sound fun or amazing but scary and rough and real. such an honest story!!
Michele Benson
Jan 06, 2017 Michele Benson rated it really liked it
Zambia. I really liked Fuller's-descriptive style. I knew absolutely nothing about the Rhodesian war, and now I know a little.
Sandra
May 02, 2016 Sandra rated it it was amazing
"The windows of the pickup were rolled down because we, in common with everyone else in this part of the world, were jealous of every drop of fuel we spent. And, under these circumstances, air-conditioning (like the exorcism of war memories and the act of writing about it) was an unpardonable self-indulgence. K had gone quiet and the muscle at the back of his jaw had begun to quiver. Air-conditioning ices memories with its blandness, but with the windows wound down the past came rushing back at ...more
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Alexandra Fuller has written five books of non-fiction.

Her debut book, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood (Random House, 2001), was a New York Times Notable Book for 2002, the 2002 Booksense best non-fiction book, a finalist for the Guardian’s First Book Award and the winner of the 2002 Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize.

Her 2004 Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldie
...more
More about Alexandra Fuller...

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“What is important is the story. Because when we are all dust and teeth and kicked-up bits of skin - when we're dancing with our own skeletons - our words might be all that's left of us.” 51 likes
“I don't think we have all the words in a single vocabulary to explain what we are or why we are. I don't think we have the range of emotion to fully feel what someone else is feeling. I don't think any of us can sit in judgment of another human being. We're incomplete creatures, barely scraping by. Is it possible--from the perspective of this quickly spinning Earth and our speedy journey from crib to coffin--to know the difference between right, wrong, good, and evil? I don't know if it's even useful to try.” 13 likes
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