Wednesday, December 22, 2010

book review

Matt and I read this book aloud to each other in less than a week. So immersing is this account of dogsledding and running the Iditarod that any chance we got, we'd say "how about another chapter?" The prologue and the first chapter reveal the danger and the majesty of dog sledding--of being outside in areas of the woods and wilderness that a person would not otherwise see, in all weather. It is clear that Paulsen is revealing his soul here, and reading (or listening), I feel as though I have glimpsed the awesome world of snow in his writing. Yet, the prologue and opening chapter are also misleading, because they lack one other aspect of the book that kept us turning the pages: Paulsen's fantastic sense of humor. The rest of the chapters had us laughing out loud as he chronicles his "appauling ignorance" in the world of running dogs. He sets himself up as the constant--and comic--beginner, and through his fumbles we see just how hard it is to do this right. It is not a good idea, for example, to hook half a dozen raring-to-go, half-wild huskies up to a bicycle. Or a light sled. They will run wild and drag you through the woods and swamp and you might hug every other tree in Northern Minnesota--all that before you lose the team and have to try to find them again. Running at night in the summer, prepare for your dogs to find and try to eat every skunk in the forest. And there are a lot of them. I feel like I have a sense of what it means to run the Iditarod--enough to know how little I know, and that I would never, myself, dream of going near it. A highly recommended read. We're giving two copies as Christmas presents.

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