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Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight

An African Childhood
Fuller, Alexandra, 1969- (Book - 2003)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight
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Random House, Inc.
1. Fuller compares the smell of Africa to 'black tea, cut tobacco, fresh fire, old sweat, young grass.' She describes 'an explosion of day birds . . . a crashing of wings' and 'the sound of heat. The grasshoppers and crickets sing and whine. Drying grass crackles. Dogs pant.' How effective is the author in drawing the reader into her world with the senses of sound, and smell, and taste? Can you find other examples of her ability to evoke a physical and emotional landscape that pulses with life? What else makes her writing style unique? 2. Given their dangerous surroundings in Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Zambia and a long streak of what young Bobo describes as 'bad, bad luck,' why does the Fuller family remain in Africa? 3. Drawing on specific examples, such as Nicola Fuller's desire to 'live in a country where white men still ruled' and the Fuller family's dramatic interactions with African squatters, soldiers, classmates, neighbors, and servants, how would you describe the racial tensions and cultural differences portrayed in Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight , particularly between black Africans and white Africans? 4. Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight is rich with humorous scenes and dialogue, such as the visit by two missionaries who are chased away by the family's overfriendly dogs, a bevy of ferocious fleas, and the worst tea they have ever tasted. What other examples of comedy can you recall, and what purpose do you think they serve in this serious memoir? 5. Fuller describes the family's move to Burma Valley as landing them 'right [in] the middle, the very birthplace and epicenter, of the civil war in Rhodesia.' Do her youthful impressions give a realistic portrait of the violent conflict? 6. The New York Times Book Review described Nicola as 'one of the most memorable characters of African memoir.' What makes the author's portrait of her mother so vivid? How would you describe Bobo's father? 7. Define the complex relationship between Bobo and Vanessa. How do the two sisters differ in the ways that they relate to their parents? 8. Animals are ever present in the book. How do the Fullers view their domesticated animals, as compared to the wild creatures that populate their world? 9. Of five children born to Nicola Fuller, only two survive. 'All people know that in one way or the other the dead must be laid to rest properly,' Alexandra Fuller writes. Discuss how her family deals with the devastating loss of Adrian, Olivia, and Richard. Are they successful in laying their ghosts to rest? 10. According to Bobo, 'Some Africans believe that if your baby dies, you must bury it far away from your house, with proper magic and incantations and gifts for the gods, so that the baby does not come back.' Later, at Devuli Ranch, soon after the narrator and her sister have horrified Thompson, the cook, by disturbing an old gravesite, Bobo's father announces that he is going fishing: 'If the fishing is good, we'll stay here and make a go of it. If the fishing is bad, we'll leave.' What role does superstition play in this book? Look for examples in the behavior and beliefs of both black and white Africans. 11. Consider Fuller's interactions with black Africans, including her nanny in Rhodesia and the children she plays 'boss and boys' with, as well as with Cephas the tracker and, later, the first black African to invite her into his home. Over the course of Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight , how does the narrator change and grow? 12. By the end of the narrative, how do you think the author feels about Africa? Has the book changed your own perceptions about this part of the world?
When the ship veered into the Cape of Good Hope, Mum caught the spicy, heady scent of Africa on the changing wind. She smelled the people: raw onions and salt, the smell of people who are not afraid to eat meat, and who smoke fish over open fires on the beach and who pound maize into meal and who work out-of-doors. She held me up to face the earthy air, so that the fingers of warmth pushed back my black curls of hair, and her pale green eyes went clear-glassy. “Smell that,” she whispered, “that’s home.” Vanessa was running up and down the deck, unaccountably wild for a child usually so placid. Intoxicated already. I took in a faceful of African air and fell instantly into a fever. In Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight , Alexandra Fuller remembers her African childhood with visceral authenticity. Though it is a diary of an unruly life in an often inhospitable place, it is suffused with Fuller’s endearing ability to find laughter, even when there is little to celebrate. Fuller’s debut is unsentimental and unflinching but always captivating. In wry and sometimes hilarious prose, she stares down disaster and looks back with rage and love at the life of an extraordinary family in an extraordinary time. From 1972 to 1990, Alexandra Fuller–known to friends and family as Bobo–grew up on several farms in southern and central Africa. Her father joined up on the side of the white government in the Rhodesian civil war, and was often away fighting against the powerful black guerilla factions. Her mother, in turn, flung herself at their African life and its rugged farm work with the same passion and maniacal energy she brought to everything else. Though she loved her children, she was no hand-holder and had little tolerance for neediness. She nurtured her daughters in other ways: She taught them, by example, to be resilient and self-sufficient, to have strong wills and strong opinions, and to embrace life wholeheartedly, despite and because of difficult circumstances. And she instilled in Bobo, particularly, a love of reading and of storytelling that proved to be her salvation. A worthy heir to Isak Dinesen and Beryl Markham, Alexandra Fuller writes poignantly about a girl becoming a woman and a writer against a backdrop of unrest, not just in her country but in her home. But Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight is more than a survivor’s story. It is the story of one woman’s unbreakable bond with a continent and the people who inhabit it, a portrait lovingly realized and deeply felt.

Baker & Taylor
An intimate memoir of growing up in Africa during the Rhodesian civil war of 1971 to 1979 describes her life on farms in southern Rhodesia, Milawi, and Zambia, detailing her hardscrabble existence with an alcoholic mother, frequently absent father, and three lost siblings, as well as her fierce love for Africa. 50,000 first printing.

Blackwell North Amer
In Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller remembers her African childhood with candor and sensitivity. Though it is a diary of an unruly life in an often inhospitable place, it is suffused with Fuller's endearing ability to find laughter, even when there is little to celebrate. Fuller's debut is unsentimental and unflinching but always captivating. In wry and sometimes hilarious prose, she stares down disaster and looks back with rage and love at the life of an extraordinary family in an extraordinary time.
From 1972 to 1990, Alexandra Fuller - known to friends and family as Bobo - grew up on several farms in southern and central Africa. Her father joined up on the side of the white government in the Rhodesian civil war, and was often away fighting against the powerful black guerrilla factions. Her mother, in turn, flung herself into their African life and its rugged farm work with the same passion and maniacal energy she brought to everything else. Though she loved her children, she was no hand-holder and had little tolerance for neediness. She nurtured her daughters in other ways: She taught them, by example, to be resilient and self-sufficient, to have strong wills and strong opinions, and to embrace life wholeheartedly, despite and because of difficult circumstances. And she instilled in Bobo, particularly, a love of reading and of storytelling that proved to be her salvation.

Baker
& Taylor

The author describes her childhood in Africa during the Rhodesian civil war of 1971 to 1979, relating her life on farms in southern Rhodesia, Milawi, and Zambia with an alcoholic mother and frequently absent father.

Authors: Fuller, Alexandra, 1969-
Statement of Responsibility: Alexandra Fuller
Title: Don't let's go to the dogs tonight
an African childhood
Publisher: New York : Random House, 2003, c2001
Characteristics: 301 p. : ill., map ; 25 cm.
Subject Headings: Zimbabwe History Chimurenga War, 1966-1980 Personal narratives, British Fuller, Alexandra, 1969- Childhood and youth Girls Zimbabwe Biography
Topical Term: Girls
LCCN: 2001041752
ISBN: 0375507507
0375758992
Branch Call Number: B Fuller
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Apr 16, 2013
  • cynthia94066 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Would others recommend for 8th graders? At the end of 8th grade. There's violence and molestation, but it's all off page for the most part from what I recall.

May 16, 2012
  • sari rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A touching and very descriptive true story of an English family living in Africa.
The author writes quite openly about her family and the tragedies they face.

Milawi is mis spelled! it should be Malawi

Dec 28, 2011
  • anflan rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Love these books by Fuller.

Nov 28, 2011
  • lalalady rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Bare faced look at how outsiders fall in love with their adopted country and yet maintain their separateness. Highly recommended, fascinating read, makes you want to travel to Africa despite the dirt, poverty, bugs and war, because of the beauty, the teeming life and scent of it all.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. Highly reccommended!

Aug 31, 2011
  • coastalkate rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

An interesting look at life in southern Africa in the 70s and 80s, from a white person's perspective (the author grew up there). Told with no apology or politeness, which may offend people who aren't familiar with the life of Africa. It's very raw and down-to-earth!
Most interesting to me was getting it from a child's perspective. This is more about the family and the person than about the bigger picture, yet you get a clear portrait of the bigger picture.

Changes your mind about the poetry of Africa

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Jul 27, 2014
  • purplecow03 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

purplecow03 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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Jul 27, 2014
  • purplecow03 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A true story, told by Alexandra "Bobo" Fuller. It is the story of a European family born and raised in southern Africa. The story honestly portrays the challenges of every day life and Bobo's journey from girlhood to womanhood in a hostile environment.

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Jul 27, 2014
  • purplecow03 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

When [Mum] kisses me good-bye, she wraps me briefly in the safe, old smell of Vicks VapoRub, tea, and perfume and it's only when I look into her eyes that I remember that she is in the middle of a nervous breakdown. She says, "Be a brave girl, okay?"
"You, too."
(Fuller 195)

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Fuller, Alexandra, 1969-
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app04 Version Arkelstorp Last updated 2014/10/23 09:41