This Much Country
Last year around this time, I read Blair Braverman’s stunning memoir, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube (read my review here, and my interview with Blair here). Since, I have followed Blair’s wonderful Twitter account, learning about her life in Wisconsin and the world of dogsledding and being a female musher. So, when I was at Strand Books the other day, and I see a blurb from Blair Braverman on a dogsledding memoir — “A gorgeous, intimate story of wildness and belonging” — I knew I had to read it.
Kristin Knight Pace’s debut memoir, This Much Country, is a beautiful story of her journey to find herself in Alaska, and as a musher. Kristin is one of only 31 women in the world to have completed both the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod — and this experience dramatically shapes her story. But she wasn’t always a musher — she writes of leaving home to go to Montana, and of her first marriage that failed. She writes of the decision to go to Alaska, not knowing what to expect. And then, she writes of falling in love with dogs, and dogsledding.
More than Blair’s memoir, Kristin’s memoir gives you the day-to-day of dogsledding; what it’s like living in Alaska, racing in the Iditarod, and it throws you into the wilderness of Alaska and the near-death experiences that come along with that.
“I was grateful to be in a sport where there were no divisions between men and women,” she writes towards the end of the book. “And out on the trail, we could hardly tell one another apart. Underneath the big parkas and frozen ruffs, we were all one thing: dog mushers. And with our well-trained teams lined out before us, panting quietly, ears picking up our commands, we were all equally in the paradise we had made for ourselves. In that yawning expanse that cared nothing for human constructs — our gender roles, our customs, our pain and suffering — we were all equals.”
I love women’s sports stories, and this was one of the best I’ve read. Rating: ★★★★★