am 15. Juli 2000
This story by Gary Paulsen never lets up but gets better with every page. We are taken into the faraway world of the Iditarod sled race that is as much an adventure on another planet, where dogs are meant for your survival. Paulsen's lyric is spare, just as you picture the barren landscape that at times is described as stunningly beautiful. You learn a lot, about the frigid Alaskan wilderness and especially about the race itself, while the author goes through his own initiation as a rookie musher. I didn't find Paulsen to be as humorous as most do. Rather, his dry delivery for continous laughs kind of bugged me. I would have liked more background in the beginning instead of reported experience. Still, Paulsen does a masterful job here. Dog lovers will especially find the tale insightful and right on.
am 28. April 1997
Winterdance by Gary Paulsen is an absolutely fascinating and entertaining depiction about how one man lives out his dream of running in the Iditarod sled-dog race. From the moment we meet Gary and his dog team in a winter storm in Minnesota till the time he gets dragged down Dalzell Gorge in Alaska, his optimism, his observations and his relationship with his dogs keeps one glued to the pages of this book.
Paulsen's personal account is easy reading in that he does not dwell in complex literary style, use large words or go overboard in describing deep characters or flowery scenery. He merely relates what he sees and feels. Often his mission is just staying alive and attached to his sled. His descriptions about his summer training with a bicycle and a car body leave you laughing out loud and in wonder about his perseverance and dedication to his dream" You look like a toy", Ruth (his wife) said as I came back from being dragged out of the yard on my face, hanging on to the overturned rig. " A big doggie toy...."Out of the first twenty runs, I didn't once leave the yard in one piece." His sense of humor is overwhelming as he tackles training a dog team without any instruction, without a book or manual but only his desire to run dogs to keep him going. 'In subsequent runs I left the yard on my face, my ass, my back, my belly. I dragged for a mile, two miles, three miles. I lost the team eight, ten times; walked twelve, seventeen, once forty-some miles looking for them. The rig broke every time we ran....""I once left the yard with wooden matches in my pocket and had them ignite as I was being dragged past the door of the house, giving me the semblance of a meteorite, screaming something about my balls being on fire at Ruth, who was laughing so hard she couldn't stand." Picturing this scene has got to put a smile on your face even if you can suppress an outward giggle.
In between the excitement, thrill and adventure of the Iditarod is the story of the dogs. Each dog has it's own personality, each has it's role in the team. One learns to respect the lead dog and the decisions they must make for " their choices can literally mean life or death for the team and driver, often when the driver cannot see what is happening." However you often wonder why keep a dog like Devil who won't hesitate to pick a fight, bite the hand that feeds it or cause chaos within the team. Yet he is integral to the whole dog team and Gary reflects about the "bond" between driver and dogs as follows. " Dogs rarely violate this relationship(the bond)-virtually never. Devil may bite me, might kill other dogs, but by god he pulled and would die pulling and that was a kind of love. I have watched them work, always in awe-and not a little love- and sometimes what they are, out ahead of me, the curve from me up through the sled and gangline into the dogs, all of us moving for some new horizon, sometimes it becomes more, becomes spiritual, religious." It is these reflections interspersed between the gruelling physical pain of running eleven hundred and eighty miles in bitter cold, gale force wind and over terrain that makes the moon seem civilized that makes this book so special.
Paulsen finishes the race, and we find out he runs it again. But in the end he is advised "You'll have to lead a normal life". A line on the final page sums up what the Iditarod and this fine piece of writing is all about. Gary says "How can it be to live without the dogs?" For those who love animals, have had a chance to work and play with dogs or for those who just like a good book written from the heart and soul, Winterdance is a must read.
am 25. April 2000
This book is so great, you will need two copies - one to loan out and one to keep so you can reread it.
Be ready to have tears streaming down your face from laughter. Be ready to get an understanding of the sled dog's true nature and abilities that you could never have gained elsewhere unless you are a musher yourself.
This book is not for dog lovers alone, or dog sledders. It is for those who just enjoy a great story. It is for those whose who think running these dogs shouldn't happen. It is for anyone who wants to laugh while getting insight into a very unique way of life.
I purchased this book over a year ago. I haven't seen it since except to pass it from one person to another to borrow and read.
My husband never appreciated the true intelligence of our sled dogs until he read this book himself. And now he's known as Musher Bill - someone who truly understands what our dogs do an why.
To Gary and his wife - thanks so much for one of the best books I have ever read. I can't wait for the movie!
am 18. April 1999
Great book which I read during the '99 Iditarod race i.e. 3/99. Loved it because it was an adventure about a sport which is so far from my lifestyle that it is almost unimaginable. I could hardly believe what the dogs and mushers go through. I learned everything I wanted to know about dogs, mushing, and the great race. I read it in 2-3 sittings since it was so exciting. I could hardly put it down. In comparison to a recent two hour TV documentary on the Iditarod, Gary's book takes the prize. The book has so much more detail and info than the glamour of TV. The only drawbacks are that I thought there was excessive use of the - & ( ) i.e. dash and parentheses. It became cumbersome at some times. And the book is really not a scholarly piece of work (I wasn't expecting that either) so it can be easily and rapidly read by any 9th grader in high school. A great book and I will definitely read it a second time.
am 12. März 1998
This is actually one of the few books I have read twice. Gary Paulsen tells the story of his rookie run in the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. He starts out this process knowing almost nothing about what it will take to actually get to the starting line, much less finish the race. His experiences during the training phase are tragically funny. The abuse he takes from his dogs, the elements, and his lack of knowledge about putting an Iditarod racing team together would make most people quit. Gary, however, sticks it out and endures what must have been one of the most spiritual experiences of his life. I read this book on a plane and I was laughing so hard I think people thought I was crazy. Have fun with it!
am 21. Dezember 1999
I have always wondered what kind of person it took to make a commitment to this type of event. This book dives headfirst in the pains and pleasures of training and racing in the Iditarod. Gary Paulsen is a superlative writer and storyteller making you laugh with one story and cry with another. This is honest, down-to-earth stuff and there is never a dull moment. Everyone I've recommend this book to comes back to me and wants to discuss the different situations Paulsen finds himself confronted with during his training as well as during and after the race. I loved this book and I have gained a healthy respect for the participants of the Iditarod and the spirit that drives them.
am 8. September 1996
An enormously gifted writer, Paulsen reaches directly into your mind, heart, and imagination and takes you along on this outrageous thousand-mile dogsled race across the frozen wonder of Alaska. The Iditarod is the ultimate challenge for mushers who live in Alaska, breed special dogs, and have all kinds of backing and equipment; Paulsen did it on a shoestring with a pack of scruffy dogs he picked up at the pound, and a stunning will and sense of adventure. I laughed out loud, shed a tear, experienced the glorious hush of the wilderness, and felt I was part of the race. I read Winterdance two years ago -- it still makes me want to stand up and cheer
am 8. Juli 1999
Sometimes I read a sentence that is so beautifully crafted that I think, "If I could write one sentence that well, I would die happy." In Winterdance, Gary Paulsen has a huge number of those sentences -- lyrical, evocative. The emotional range of this book, humorous, scary, pathetic, triumphant is also impressive. Finally, Winterdance provides one of the best insights into Amerians that I know of. Our love of individualism, the belief that if you work hard you can achieve anything, our idolization of people able to achieve the extreme. This is a book that I often suggest to others. One of my all time favorites.
am 2. August 1998
I borrowed Winterdance and enjoyed it so much that I am buying two, one for a friend as a gift and one to share with family and friends. I couldn't put it down and can't wait to buy others by Gary Paulsen. I love the discription of the personalities of the dogs. I have never cried laughing so much, while reading any book, as I did with this one. After reading this, I would love to watch the Iditarod, but would never run in it. Gary Paulen's ability to decribe the hardships and pain, was outstanding and just made us laugh! Great book. Everyone should read this book!
am 8. März 1997
This book brings alive the experience of the Iditarod. After the first couple of chapters, Gary Paulsen has the reader wondering about his sanity. His cluelessness about the preparation needed for himself and his team for this leaves the reader teetering on the edge of the sled blade wondering what is around the next corner, or over the next cliff.
Winterdance had me roaring with laughter about his exploits and in awe over the passion his dogs having for running and Gary's passion for his team.
It is by far the best book I have read in *years*. Read it!