- Fizzy Thoughts: Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight

Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight
Alexandra Fuller
301 pages

This is my final book for the Armchair Traveler Reading Challenge. Woo-hoo! And it’s also our November read over at the Slow Travel Concentric Reading Circle Book Club. And it’s been sitting in my TBR pile for over a year. So it’s with a great sense of accomplishment that I post this review.

Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight is Alexandra Fuller’s memoir of her African childhood. It is both a brutally frank and loving reflection on a harsh upbringing in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. Fuller’s parents are farmers, descended from a family of white Englishmen who have been in Africa for three generations. They are African, but still stuck in a white colonial mindset. Unashamedly racist, they are in search of a place where that colonial mindset still prevails, and a remote farm on which they can make a living. This explains their continuous moves through Africa, as formerly white ruled colonies gain independence, and finally majority rule.

This is a hard book to review. Despite the author’s casual references to bouts of malaria, living with bugs and rats, drinking beer and being drunk with her family at an early age, getting dreadfully sick from river water, and many other difficult circumstances, it is hard not to be appalled at the conditions she endured. However, since the author is not feeling sorry for herself, and obviously loves her family and Africa, I ended up feeling like a spoiled American. To be honest, Africa is one place I have never wanted to visit. And after reading this book, that opinion hasn’t changed one bit. If that makes me shallow and addicted to my comforts, so be it.

Despite all of the uncomfortableness (for both the narrator and the reader), it is still a great book. Fuller tells it like it was, and her frankness and child-like candor make it an easy and interesting book to read. And the family pictures scattered throughout help with visualizing the family. I would suggest reading the back of the book first. The author wrote a short essay, My Africa, explaining why she loves Africa and what ties her to the land. She also explains her motivation for writing the book and admits upfront that her parents are racist and not the best of parents. With those revelations in mind, it is easier to digest the book.

1 comment(s):

bethany (dreadlock girl) said...

I am still wondering if I want to read it. I remember what we talked about now though! We were talking about The Glass Castle right? I enjoyed that one. Thanks for the link, great review!

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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