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Cannibal

terese svoboda
Copyright Date: 1994
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 156
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qfzpk
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  • Book Info
    Cannibal
    Book Description:

    Cannibal is Africa from the inside - inside the head of a woman who fears that the man she loves is CIA, that the film the're supposed to make is his cover, that she might be pregnant. A haunting story of survival, Cannibal lays bare a woman's greatest hungers. Known as Good-for-Nothing by the Africans - unfit for the climate, the work, or frienship, she struggles for recognition, and for her life. What she finds, wandering the savannah for months, are the "blue people", those with AIDS who have been left to die in an abandoned British outpost. But this is only counterpoint to her own predicament. "Trust hasn't enough syllables," she says, regarding her lover walking ahead of her. "He doesn't look at it. I can't not look, but he won't look." In Cannibal, nobody wants to look - the differences are too frightening, the truth too stark, the love too little. A step beyond Heart of Darkness, Cannibal is the virtual reality of exotic paranoia where, when the images break apart, Death grins out.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-7104-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[viii])
  2. Acknowledgments
    (pp. [ix]-[x])
  3. Cannibal
    • 1
      (pp. 1-13)

      He doesn’t look at it. I can’t not look but he won’t look. Maybe because I’m female and that’s why. It’s a female who walks some feet ahead, enough ahead so he can’t look all the time. But she is, after all, naked and she does turn and this is when I see he doesn’t look at it but could.

      She turns often, sometimes to see where we are, sometimes to pick up her son. Her son—you can see by the grey under his black—runs a fever so he can’t always walk. But he is big and can’t...

    • 2
      (pp. 14-33)

      We are seated under stars. We are seated on the thin white skin of a calf with the fur still on, the hair on the hide that is as stiff as my mother’s Irish hair in black. But now almost white? The months are years here. I feel how long it takes for the light of these stars to arrive in such whiteness, in clusters which would be cruelly unfamiliar if I knew which were which at home or even noticed them there under all that electric light and movie light and TV glow that puts out most of the...

    • 3
      (pp. 34-43)

      This is the swamp: noise. This is the largest swamp in the world and the fish after the bugs and the fish eagles after their fish and the swatters and the crocs reveling in what must have been a very quiet place at the beginning with one-cells oozing in half in rhythm is all noise.

      I hear him anyway under it: he whispers to someone in their language, and one word sounds like oil but what does that mean, an openoor different, a sound with authat is a kind of comb? I think. Or the open...

    • 4
      (pp. 44-60)

      I stick my hand under my skirt and welt some of the cloth over my fist and fingers. I flex my fingers into anowith the welt on top and close the skirt part over a chunk of clay.

      They—a boy with a mud cow and some sores, the two girls with miniature water pots, both with iron around their wrists and waists that is make spiked to hurt anybody who comes too near, and their mother or sister or someone who is holding up a heavy log by its middle aiming but not yet pounding it up...

    • 5
      (pp. 61-64)

      How is sex not like love? I ask.

      I have just bought two eggs from someone who is walking across where we were walking, and the eggs, their tittight shape which will soon be flaccid, direct my saying this about sex and love.

      He is not directed, though. He is moving a piece of cloth over the front mirrored part of what he shoots with and maybe the moving takes up every bit of his speech, maybe he is part of that mirror by reflection and liking it so much his hearing is less or maybe even some spider is...

    • 6
      (pp. 65-70)

      The Arabs are who saved us from the boat by having a boat on the other side of a chunk of swamp that we were behind and not moving from. The Arabs let us walk over that chunk, lightly like that swamp deer, and board their boat while the people in their boat walked over the chunk to our boat and boarded our boat and the boats just turned around and went back with new people, the ones who wanted to get here and there. The Arabs who saved us also own the truck and its parts.

      It is quite...

    • 7
      (pp. 71-75)

      Why won’t I look? He is holding a leaf between his teeth and the animal is leaning down and taking the other end of the leaf and they are both tugging, but I won’t look. He says he will get the animal to kiss him and still I won’t look. There is a moment when I hear the leaf resist, dry as it is, and it tears, then something quiet happens.

      I am looking and not looking. My eyes are still not clear from when they were clouded with water that showed my anger. And I am uneasy about being...

    • 8
      (pp. 76-81)

      So if I have a problem with trust when we begin to walk, I have just more of a problem now. And one more thing: I am making these songs into my language for money, and some of the money I have given him to buy film. Some is more like a lot. That is why he calls me Producer. All along when we set up the camera, I expect the lights, camera, action, at least the red light inside the camera that says it is going, taking the looking. He should make the camera go on even if he...

    • 9
      (pp. 82-90)

      The soon is relative, he says in the dark without a flashlight—because where would we get new batteries here?—the dark with half a moon.

      We have to pole upriver with the equipment this time. Against the current.

      I am not as sad as I could be with the delay. I see Cleopatra, a smart black woman, on a barge and leaves at the end of branches waving over me. Mostly, I see no walking.

      I don’t ask where exactly will this be, where we are going, just the way I didn’t ask where exactly did he leave the...

    • 10
      (pp. 91-99)

      Okay, so the lion is stuffed. A smaller animal is running between her ears with straw, and a stick keeps her head up. I have come a long way to see a lion stuffed with straw, I say.

      It was shot where it stands, he says.

      That doesn’t scare me, I say.

      Behind the animal is a police station, a place almost as leaning as it is, the straw corners that make the walls like the lion’s corners are rounded too, like all the other places near it.

      At this museum I know, I say, there’s a sign that says...

    • 11
      (pp. 100-109)

      The killing starts. By the way the weapons fall from the truck when the truck stops for stretching, I can see they don’t kill much, not with these weapons anyway, with knives on the end which, when the truck bumps, some get hurt on. We don’t always bump, sometimes the ruts fit the truck but rarely, as this place with no road is not a place for trucks to come much, even if they have shocks, which this one must not, so people need stretching, need to stop. When we stop and the guns fall to the ground with the...

    • 12
      (pp. 110-121)

      If you have to be sick, there are always reasons. Flies, or men with their mouths open, or a liver, the best part, with worms. Cooked worms though. The question Why? is not so important as how far back the Why goes. Then you can tell when the Why should be finished or if it is going into some new Why that is different, that is worse. Say you start sick early but you don’t mind, it’s part of the way you are living and it’s not a fever, so what? Say it gets hard to get to the river...

    • 13
      (pp. 122-132)

      Every girl fears sex being handed out after every handshake, in fact, we wash those hands, those shakes being all the foreplay we sometimes get, we wash like boxers or golfers before bouts that just have skill at stake and no love. But it is all about love, just no one knows how to get love into those shakes or if it is there already, where exactly—in the grip? In the air between the palms? I see this now in tonight’s dark which has no TV written into the walls of its riverbank to change the subject which is...

    • 14
      (pp. 133-144)

      We are not going to the blue people, says the man with the metal. The last time we came, they shot at us and I know from today they have new weapons and ammo. Maybe we’ll come back after the rains.

      The man who thinks he is just like us makes his smile. He has not been at the camp since the night we came in the rain. It is his report of new weapons.

      I lie at the back of the place, draining into the ground. Who shot at who?—Is the color blue new?—Is that the weapon?—...

  4. Back Matter
    (pp. 145-145)