I finally finished last month’s book club selection, Alexandra Fuller’s Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, the amazing memoir of Fuller’s childhood spent in a Caucasian English family struggling to live in Africa in the 1960s and 70s. As you can imagine, there were enough hardships to endure, considering the war-torn political system and the economic ravages inherent there; but add these to Fuller’s honest portrayal of her family’s own psychological instability and racism, and you get a very interesting read indeed. One comment I made at our book club was that compared to her family, our looks like Leave-it-to-Beaver even on our worst days. So, in a way, though the book takes on some of the “gently manic” characteristics of her mother, Fuller’s tale is cathartic enough (once finally finished) to almost be inspirational in that we are not there, in that family, thank God.
Though Fuller now lives in the U.S., she always considers Africa her home and weeps copious tears of joy when she visits her family there, despite – or maybe because of -- whatever hardships it may embody for her personally. In her memoirs, she doesn’t just describe Africa, she brings that land to throbbing, fragrant life for us in all her staggeringly dangerous beauty that will:
“absorb white man’s blood and the blood of African men, it will absorb
blood from slaughtered cattle and the blood from a woman’s birthing
with equal thirst. It doesn’t care.”