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Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight

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Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, a memoir of life with Alexandra Fuller and her family on a farm in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe. I also really wanted to delve deep into the Fullers reasons for wanting to live on a continent that they found so inhospitable--both in terms of terrain and in terms of constant violence they encountered.

There was so little introspection, so little emotional reaction to anything, and the end of the book was so rushed, that at the end I was disappointed. You wouldn't think a five-year-old's mysterious rash would become an instantly awkward incident of politics and race relations. As the daughter of white settlers in war-torn 1970s Rhodesia, Alexandra Fuller remembers a time when a schoolgirl was as likely to carry a shotgun as a satchel.

As the tension builds in the novel the author knows when it has reached the breaking point and throws in some humor. But they all saw death in many different ways, some deaths being too horrible to have been inscribed into their minds. Fuller regards herself "as a daughter of Africa", who spent her early life on farms in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia throughout the turbulent 1970s and 80s, as her parents "fought to keep one country in Africa white-run", but "lost twice" in Kenya and Zimbabwe. This story is told entirely in the voice of whatever age Bobo is at the time - mainly a child - and as a child, she has no other life experience to compare with her own. Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight is about living through a civil war; it's about losing children and losing that war - and realising that the side you have been fighting for may well be the 'wrong' one.

Unsentimental and unflinching, but always enchanting, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight is the story of an extraordinary family in an extraordinary time.

Since October, Mum has been using a hypodermic needle to inject the Christmas cake (bought months ago in the U. 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. Mixed in with these geographical hardships is their family’s struggle and acceptance of the loss of three other siblings (how could the reader not forgive Mum’s love of gin and tonic? There is beautifully written passage describing driving through a European settlement and then Tribal Trust Lands: "there are flowering shrubs and trees.

I loved the use of language, the strung-together adjectives and the powerful descriptions of the essence of Africa - the sheer enormity of the land, the harsh, unforgiving climate, the beauty that overwhelms the senses every single day. Even when it comes to her parents’, her white neighbours’, or black officials’ racist attitudes (to one another and to Indian merchants), she doesn’t excuse or condemn anyone; she lets their words and actions speak for themselves. The book was hard to enjoy at times since my mind was often on the children, and I kept questioning the parent's reason for bringing them to Africa during such a turbulent time.This one is written in present tense and, like Dylan Thomas, there is much that goes unexplained that creates a sense of chaos that is appropriate for her life as a child. While giving a sense of the continent’s political shifts, she mostly focuses on her own family: the four-person circus that was Bobo (that’s her), Van (her older sister Vanessa), Dad, and Mum (an occasionally hospitalized manic-depressive alcoholic who lost three children) – not to mention an ever-changing menagerie of horses, dogs and other pets. It is so hot outside that the flamboyant tree outside cracks to itself, as if already anticipating how it will feel to be on fire.

Afterwards, "Mum and Dad's joyful careless embrace of life is sucked away, like water swirling down a drain. Violence is not just a backdrop; this violence, and the lack of political stability in the countries she grows up in, shapes her family (and contributes to her mother’s descent into alcoholism and madness).

Her choice to use a child's POV is incredibly clever since it allows her to touch on issues like racism, post-colonialism, and dysfunctional family dynamics without needing to present apologies, excuses, or really any editorializing and that let's her experience shine through. The author tells her story in a very straightforward manner - although there is sadness there is a lot of fun too. I envy her when I should probably not -- her life has clearly not been easy, but it has been rich with experiences. In "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller remembers her African childhood with candor and sensitivity. I am not normally a fan or autobiographical writing, but this book is exceptional and I have been recommending it to everyone I know.

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