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Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier.

SCRIBBLING THE CAT: TRAVELS WITH AN AFRICAN SOLDIER. Alexandra Fuller. 2004. Read by Lisette Lecat. 7 tapes. 9.5 hrs. Recorded Books. 1-4025-8277-3. $89.75.Vinyl; content, reader notes. A

Relentlessly grim, this true story leaves the listener with insight into the permanent effects of war. Fuller (author of the memoir Don't Let's Go the the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood) grew up in what was then the British colony of Rhodesia, and later emigrated to the United States. As she relates in this book, she returned to Africa, and met a banana farmer she refers to only as K. A born-again Christian whose physical appearance suggested a violent past, K was a veteran of the Rhodesian Light Infantry. He fought in the 1970s to maintain white supremacy, on the losing side of the war, which ended with majority rule for the new nation of Zimbabwe. Fuller agreed to accompany him on a trip to Mozambique, through territory where he experienced fierce guerrilla warfare against rebel black forces. On the way, the travelers had strange encounters with other white veterans, who, like K, had ongoing nightmares about the things they had seen--and done. "We were on the wrong side of the war," says Fuller of her white family and subculture.

This is painful listening. Starkly, Fuller relates K's confessions, particularly the torture of a young African woman. The veterans' conversations are saturated with racial slang and expletives, echoing the violence of their acts. He and his friends, said K, were not animals--they were "worse than animals." Narrator Lecat was born in South Africa and expertly renders the different African accents. Her elegant clear voice delivers the material simply and directly, and her deliberate pacing matches the somberness of the narrative. As for the title, scribbling is slang for killing--the thing curiosity did to the cat. Fuller's curiosity, and ours, is repaid here with endless reminders of death. Betsy Woddman, Andover, NH

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Author:Woodman, Betsy
Article Type:Audiobook Review
Date:Sep 1, 2005
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