Eric Boss reviews TRAVEL LIGHT, MOVE FAST

Travel Light, Move Fast by Alexandra Fuller
ON SALE AUGUST 6, 2019
Penguin Press

As memoirs go, this is among the best and most affecting I’ve read. Anyone familiar with Fuller’s previous works will recognize her remarkable family and their adventures, and that’s not hyperbole. They were true adventures, ones those of us with typically quotidian lives can only imagine, or perhaps experience in nightmares, maybe. The marks left on the soul by such an unusual and abundant life are ones we can only imagine. The tales of this unique clan are exciting and interesting and perhaps best viewed from the remove of a comfortable chair, for they cannot have been uniformly pleasant and happy up close. Their product, though, is a writer of power and meaning with much to impart.

There are numerous words that come to mind when I think about the Fullers and their path in what was surely an eventful existence. Strength, loyalty, persistence, courage, fidelity and vision, absolutely. But eccentricity, playfulness, humor, free-spiritedness, scholarship and love have their place, too. All of these were evident in and encouraged by Tim Fuller of No Fixed Abode and Nicola Fuller of Central Africa (how they styled themselves) in spades. Self-reliance and an inquiring spirit were watchwords in parenting their children and in their own conduct. But in contrast to what might seem to be an austere regime, harsh and unforgiving, they were wildly exuberant and uninhibited in their celebration of life, friends and the natural world. I doubt if any such family has or will be part of the lives of most of us. It’s our loss.

As a simple record of a notable life, this book has great merit. But as a paean to a beloved parent and a lamentation of his loss it is profoundly moving. Painful scars which don’t heal are on display here, without self-pity. A clear view of one’s grief is necessary to achieve eventual peace with it, even if one is never shed of it. Like life, there are hilarious and appalling moments in roughly equal measure here, approached with the skill of a true writer. Strong stuff; I highly recommend it.

Shelf Talker: The account of a remarkable life, that of Tim Fuller, the author’s father who was by any accounting an unusual and notable individual. Written with a clear eye, but a loving one, the faults and strengths of this man and his eccentric family are sure to delight, amaze and bring a tear to even the most jaundiced eye.