Tuesday, 10 December 2013

COCKTAIL HOUR UNDER THE TREE OF FORGETFULNESS by Alexandra Fuller

I read this book months ago, in high summer in a pool in Portugal, so my recollections of it are a little hazy, as indeed are my recollections of much of that vacation, a sort of haze of sunlight and figs and beer that comes in tiny bottles.

Alexandra Fuller is a Zimbabwean, somewhat older than myself, whose first book DON’T LETS GO TO THE DOGS TONIGHT was a memoir of her childhood in Zimbabwe. It was an enjoyable read, but very much, for me, a book of an earlier generation, with the dark shadow of the war upon it, and everybody going about being racist all the time. Her next book, SCRIBBLING THE CAT, was in the same vein, but her third THE LEGEND OF COLTON H BRYANT was set in Wyoming, where she now lives, which I thought was rather brave. It’s so hard for the immigrant to write anything other than immigrant fiction.

Her current book is COCKTAIL HOUR UNDER THE TREE OF FORGETFULNESS, and here she returns safely to Africa, telling her mother and father’s story, as they move from Kenya down to the south. It’s a sweet and touching story, though Fuller does not entirely avoid the temptation to exoticise her parents (easy to do when you have African parents).

Frankly, I can’t tell you too much else about it, but overall I have a sort of warm feel about the story, and so could recommend it, though the heat I feel might just be a sort of half memory of the Portuguese sun.

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