In Madrid I wandered into a little used book store and bought Alexandra Fuller's "Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight" for three euros. Just what I needed. It chronicles Fuller's family during the last days of Rhodesia and onto Zambia and farms in other African spots. They were tobacco farmers during the dying days of the empire. Fuller pulls no punches - she says she wrote at least eight or nine novel manuscripts trying to justify and expunge the guilt and deal with the truth about her mother's racism, and the hard truths of family life. She states: "The novels felt like lies, because in them I tried to soften the voices of the whites and write into full life the voices of the black men silenced by years of oppression. These works of fiction I realized were the writings of a woman who was csared to look the world in the face - so I made the decision to write my life exactly as it had been...passionate, wonderful, troubled, oppressive, chaotic, beautiful. It is not a political story or the story of the empire...it is the story of how one African came to terms with her family's troubled history. It is a love song for the continent.
Here's the last sentence of the book: "This is not a full circle. It's life carrying on. It's the next breath we take. It's the choice we make to get on with it."
It seems to me Fuller struck at the heart of what most writers cannot penetrate...because we've been crippled by political correctness in the way we talk about race, sex, politics, animals, food, family and all of human experience. She hits the note. It takes me back to my year in Nigeria but also deepens my undertsanding of the odd shaped nature of families and family hardships...Fuller does not put soft words in anyone's mouth. Her mother is a "hard living, glamorous, intemperate, intelligent, rascist who introduced us all to the works of Shaekspeare before we could walk."
"Don't let's go to the dogs tonight,
for mother will be there........"