The Iditarod dog sled race is, I think, quite well-known, though most of us know few (if any) people who’ve run the course. It is certainly not the sort of course one challenges without having some experience with running dog sleds.
Enter Debbie Clarke Moderow – a 40-something mother of two on the Iditarod Trail, 200 miles from the end of the course, with a team of dogs who’ve decided that they don’t want to run any more. In this memoir, Fast into the Night, Moderow writes candidly of her feelings during the journey as well as her observations about her own preparedness.
If, for some reason, we ever thought that guiding a dog sled on a grueling winter course would be fun and easy, Moderow corrects that notion. The two biggest challenges, based on Moderow’s writing, are: 1) the rider’s own doubts and insecurities, and 2) the dogs. The environmental conditions is a more distant third.
More than once Moderow’s dogs decide that they aren’t going to run/pull. What do you do? How hard do you you fight with them to get them to respect and listen to you before they fear you?
Moderow attempts the Iditarod more than once and both accounts are remembered here.
Memoirs are a tricky literary form … what is the purpose of reading someone else’s memoirs? Often it’s because it is someone we know – a celebrity of popular figure and we want to know more about them and the way they think. But when it’s someone you don’t know … when it’s a Debbie Clarke Moderow, for instance … there needs to be something else (in this case it’s the Iditarod race) and we hope that we get to know the author more through their memoir. But I don’t feel that’s the case so much.
I never felt compelled to root for Moderow and never felt the exhaustion or anxiety that she must have felt along the way. Despite the level of intensity (I imagine) needed to accomplish such a race, I felt that this moved along at a slow, even pace and I never learned anything from it (other than that sled dogs are unpredictable).
This wasn’t a bad read, but I don’t feel as though I can recommend it.
Looking for a good book? Fast into the Night is a memoir of Debbie Clarke Moderow’s journey to start and finish the Iditarod dog sled race. If that means anything to you, you might enjoy this book.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
* * * * * *
Fast into the Night
author: Debbie Clarke Moderow
publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
hardcover, 272 pages