Thursday, April 16, 2015

Leaving Before the Rain Comes

Having read two of Alexandra Fuller’s books before this one, Leaving Before the Rain Comes, it is not at all surprising that she would divorce her husband, and that she would write a memoir about this experience.

In a sense, the groundwork was laid in her breakout memoir, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight. The end of that book is extremely compact, and in an interview Fuller acknowledged that the book had a longer ending.  Here, apparently, is the cut material reworked to 2015.

If this is not the standard divorce narrative it is because Fuller is an exceptional writer, keenly, almost painfully honest in her approach.  She spares no one and nothing her scrutiny (at least in the material she decides to show us).  She uses the language powerfully, poetically, expressing ideas, emotions, and concepts, over a wide, eloquent range.  She can write emotionally or analytically with equal skill.  When she is close to her material, as she is in this book, her writing is simply mesmerizing.

It is when she moves beyond the topic of Africa where her prose starts to sag.   Not much, but it is obvious that Africa is her inspiration.  Her best work deals with two topics: Africa, and her life.  And unless I have misjudged this very talented writer, you should buy and read any book where she handles both topics. 

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