Sally's Reviews > Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller
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's review
Aug 10, 08

it was ok
Read in August, 2008

There are many reviews that summarize this book, so I won’t repeat them. I found this book slightly anti-African. It left me feeling like; couldn't the British have left Africa alone and let them have their own country? It does not seem right for there to be a British Africa. Seems unnatural. I suppose American Indians may have felt the same way about the early colonists, as well. This was no Out of Africa. Now that was a great book and memoir. Different time period and location, of course.
No one reading this book is going to want to jump on a plane and travel Africa.
It is an interesting read in light of the present political situation in Zimbabwe with regards to Robert Mugabe. He came into power around 1980 (?)as a hero. Now he seems like a crazy man.
This family, the Fullers, live a life on the fringe of mania. So much sadness and 'unsafeness', yet there is a wild excitement of living this African life, struggling to survive
with; war, the earth, the political upheaval, and daily living.
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Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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Laura Yes, I think anti-Africa is a good way to describe the lingering distaste I had at the end of the book. Almost like the ending for the Poisonwood Bible. It's hard to find an interest in an environment that had such a negative force throughout the book.

Sally Yes, I quite agree with you. I had the same thought about the Poisonwood Bible as well.
And despite these books, I have great interest in Africa. I have great care for Africa, and would one day like to spend thime there. Have you read What is the What or Live To Tell? I of course want it to be the way it was when Isak Dinesen [Karen Blixin] was there. I could have been her for what she did in Out of Africa.
Thanks for the comment

Josh But that's not what memoir or literature is. It's supposed to be honest and it doesn't judge. We may judge by our views and that's fine, but the author's job isn't to editorialize, it's to tell the story as it happened as honestly as it can be told.

Sally I agree with what you say, but the book still evokes the same response in me. Thanks for your comments.

risha I read this book whilst travelling through Southern and Eastern Africa, and while I thought her honesty (esp. re: her parents' racism) was stark and interesting to read.. I found her rather off-putting in the way she seemed to relate to Africa. It seemed completely without any understanding or acknowledgment of her own privilege in a ravaged continent. And while I don't expect guilt of any sort, I do think some understanding of how you (especially when growing up in a privileged space, regardless of how your world begins to shatter) interact with the spaces from a certain position matters. I don't know, as much as I found it an interesting read.. I was left feeling uncomfortable.

Sally I would have to say I was left feeling uncomfortable as well.
Thank you for your opinion, especially since you have traveled the area.

Patie I had the opposite experience. The passion present in both this book and The Poisonwood Bible (both in my top 5 of all time) made me long to travel Africa. I wanted to experience the place that had had such a profound effect on those who had lived and visited there. And it is not Ms. Fuller's job to jugde whether or not colonialization was ok - she had little control over it, especially as a child. I think that her feelings about the situation are nicely represented in the book. She explains the conflicts from an adult perspective, but describes her experiences from the perspective of a child - the way she experienced them. It is easy for us to sit back and judge others, but life is not black and white. Fuller felt a strong connection to the land she saw as her "home," and had conflicting views about what was right and what wasn't as she came of age. I have read this book over 5 times and I find myself loving it more each time. I especially enjoy exploring more of Fuller's mother at each reading. Despite the fact that I disagree with many of the things she believes in, she is an amazingly interesting character and an inspiringly strong woman.

message 8: by Tim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tim Indeed. Life is not black and white and there are no moral certainties here in Africa. You check that baggage in when you enter at the airport, and the longer you stay here, the less of it is waiting for you when it's time to leave.

Martha Alexandra Fuller doesn't believe the racist things she did when she was young anymore; she is honestly showing the reader what she, as a product of her society, was like. It was meant to be upsetting.

message 10: by Marie-anne (new) - added it

Marie-anne Duhem Most of you commentators are Americans, right? And you never lived in Africa? Before judging and being all righteous about colonialism in Africa in the 70's... consider the social/economical situation in America..., why are most Native Americans and African Americans still in very dire straits? The day they'll be really equal to "Caucasians" then you'll have a right to judge other nations. Put yourself in the situation of the girl's parents and suppose (lets say) Native Americans want to take away everything you have, everything...
That said far from me to condone lots of horror that happened in Africa. But then the Africans themselves are not very broadminded either when it comes to equality. They are tribal people and if you follow the news you'll know they don't shy from using torture on people from other tribes... But peace and love to all!

message 11: by Denise (new)

Denise Quigley The purpose of this memoir is not to justify her childhood or the attitudes of the white settlers, but rather to let us peek into it. I found that she very matter of factly pointed out the inequities as she slowly matured and recognized them. I found it captivating, riveting and at times painful and disturbing... but brilliantly written!

Cecily I've nearly finished this. Yes, she describes some horrible racist attitudes and practices, but she's telling it how it was, and it's clear that she neither holds nor condones those views now, or even as she grew old enough to realise the implications.

Cecily I've now finished it, and I didn't see it as anti-African at all. She describes what she experienced at the time: it would be very sad if fear of offence made it impossible to describe the past honestly, and thus to learn from it and also to be pleased about what has changed and see what still needs to change.

Here's a passage that I think clearly but subtly demonstrates her awareness of her sympathy for the inequality she sees. She is describing driving through a European settlement and then Tribal Trust Lands, and the contrasts she sees: "there are flowering shrubs and trees... planted at picturesque intervals. The verges of the road have been mown to reveal neat, upright barbed-wire fencing and fields of army-straight tobacco... or placidly grazing cattle shiny and plump with sweet pasture. In contrast, the tribal lands "are blown clear of vegetation. Spiky euphorbia hedges which bleed poisonous, burning milk when their stems are broken poke greenly out of otherwise barren, worn soil. The schools wear the blank faces of war buildings, their windows blown blind by rocks or guns or mortars. Their plaster is an acne of bullet marks. The huts and small houses crouch open and vulnerable... Children and chickens and dos scratch in the red, raw soil and stare at us as we drive thought their open, eroding lives."

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