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Scribbling the Cat

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  4,127 Ratings  ·  385 Reviews
Thomas Wolfe's trusted axiom about not being able to go home again gets a compelling spin through the African veldt in Alexandra Fuller's Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier. Fuller (Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight : An African Childhood) journeys through modern Zambia, to battlefields in Zimbabwe and Mozambique with the scarred veteran of the Rhodesian ...more
Paperback, 257 pages
Published February 15th 2007 (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)
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Melki
Dec 02, 2016 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
Chrissie
May 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
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
Sep 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fuller fans & Around-the-World-ers
Shelves: mozambique
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
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Judy
Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-audio-books
Incredibly wonderful descriptive writing that creates amazing images as you read, or in this case as I read with my ears, this being an audio book. The trouble is the imagery the words create is not only describing the geography and scenery of Southern Africa but also the painful emotional journey of people shaken up and thrown down and cast aside by the brutal years of war.

I can not imagine anyone being able read or listen to this story without deeply reflecting on the total pointlessness and
...more
Christopher Roth
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
Kirsty
Feb 20, 2010 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
Heather
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
Belle
Dec 04, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sue
Nov 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, zimbabwe
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 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kieron
Sep 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Amanda Patterson
Jul 31, 2011 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
Aug 24, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 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 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Stacy
Sep 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Alison
Nov 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Apr 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book did not engage me as much as her other books.
Kevin Pedersen
A look at the post-war trauma faced by soldiers, through the eyes of a writer who grew up in Rhodesia (now Zambia) and worries she might have been rooting for the wrong side. She decides to take a trip back through the Rhodesia/Mozambique war zone with a larger-than-life veteran, "K." It's a solid character study with some memorable lines and almost cartoon details... K claims to have been in hundreds of fights (and casually asserts that he never lost) and at one point, to protect the writer, he ...more
Kathy
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Written as a sequel to Don't Let's Go To The Dogs Tonight, this book paints a unique picture of contemporary Africa. Alexandra's (Bobo's) parents still live a hard-drinking life in Zambia, running a fish farm. While on a Christmas visit she meets K, then returns to do a road trip with him, seeking some explanation for the war that he had fought in when she was a child growing up in Zimbabwe and wondering what it (independence from Britain) was all about. She still has a naivete that is hard to b ...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
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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.” 53 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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