Picks and Pans Review: Scribbling the Cat

updated 05/31/2004 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/31/2004 AT 01:00 AM EDT

By Alexandra Fuller

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Reading books about Africa and war, and the people whose lives are inescapably broken by both, tends to fall onto the same to-do list as Watch More PBS and Eat More Fiber. Yet Fuller—who documented her childhood years in Africa in the fascinating 2002 memoir Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight—writes so honestly and with such wit and heart that her work is addictive. Her latest is a suspenseful tale of her unexpected friendship with a man she calls K, a white African and Rhodesian war veteran. "He looked bullet-proof," she writes of her first impression of K, an articulate ex-soldier whose brutal past is counterbalanced by his emotional vulnerability. "He looked cathedral." Early in the book, the author's father cautions her against pursuing her interest in the perversely seductive K: "Curiosity scribbled [Rhodesian slang for 'killed'] the cat." Luckily for us, she ignored the warning.


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