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Terese Svoboda

Publication Year: 1994

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.

Published by: NYU Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. ix

I am deeply grateful to Amy Hempel, Willy Kelly, Sondra Spatt Olsen, Robert Levy, Shelly Silver, Pat Heller, Gillian Walker, and Mary Stewart Hammond who read pieces, and at times, whole versions...

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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...

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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...

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pp. 34-43

I his 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...

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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 an o with the welt on top and close the skirt part over a chunk of clay...

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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 tit-tight shape which will soon be flaccid...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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pp. 133-143

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...

E-ISBN-13: 9780814771044
E-ISBN-10: 0814771041
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814780121
Print-ISBN-10: 0814780121

Page Count: 144
Publication Year: 1994

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Man-woman relationships -- Fiction.
  • AIDS (Disease) -- Patients -- Fiction.
  • Africa -- Fiction.
  • Psychological fiction. -- lcsh.
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