Jeanette "Astute Crabbist"'s Reviews > Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller
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's review
Sep 25, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: africa, biography-memoir, nonfiction, four-star-nonfiction
Recommended to Jeanette by: Elisabeth
Read in February, 2010

Whenever I read an autobiography, I compare my childhood experiences with those of the author. What was happening in my life at that age? How would I have behaved under those circumstances?

With this book, the comparisons were difficult to make. I can't imagine growing up amid so much tumult and violence and uncertainty. Not to mention numerous inconveniences and an abundance of creepy and dangerous vermin.

I'm glad I didn't grow up in a place where terrorists were so common that they were referred to as "terrs." And scorpions were so common that they called them "scorps." And I'm quite grateful that my first day of school photo does not feature me clutching an Uzi for protection.

Alexandra "Bobo" Fuller writes about her experiences in a strangely unsentimental, matter-of-fact way. Be it fear, fun, or heartbreaking loss, all is recorded with equal detachment. Maybe it's just her writing style, but I wondered if a young life filled with danger and uncertainty and pain taught her not to feel anything too deeply.

If Fuller's family and friends are any indication, it would appear that white people can only cope with African life through heavy boozing. Full-grown adults with families drink like college boys on a bender! I guess it helps them handle the stress and loneliness and tolerate the intense heat. But it made me a little queasy thinking about the hangovers they must have suffered.
I did like the story about the exploding Christmas cake, though. Nothing like a little flambe to brighten your holiday. HA!

For me the book was both informative and entertaining. Also quite sad at times, but never melodramatically so. It opened my eyes to still more of the complexities that are the very definition of Africa. The residual colonial attitudes were also quite a revelation to me.
The writing is excellent, if a little disjointed at times. It's written mostly in present tense, the curse of my existence. If not for that, I might have gone with five stars.
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Reading Progress

02/18/2010 page 78
25.91% ""Ole, I am a bandit!" Living on a border between two civil wars with a crazy alcoholic mother. Sheesh!"
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Elisabeth Yay! Hope you like it!

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Astonishingly good so far! This is my third attempt to read it, and it's finally the right time. I just wasn't in the mood the other two times.

Julie I was so moved by her story and her style- this really rocked me!

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" I wish I had the time to just read it through uninterrupted. I'm in the middle of moving AGAIN, so I only get 30 pages here and there of each book I'm working on.

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