GARY PAULSEN WOODSONG PDF

The first half of the book is a series of short essays Paulsen wrote about training his sled dogs. He writes about odd things that happened to him while on runs and in the woods, the brutality of nature and what his dogs taught him. Some of the essays, actually, most of them, have one thing or another that was difficult to read. The book is also funny at times and a couple of choice stories and phrases had me laughing out loud.

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The first half of the book is a series of short essays Paulsen wrote about training his sled dogs. He writes about odd things that happened to him while on runs and in the woods, the brutality of nature and what his dogs taught him. Some of the essays, actually, most of them, have one thing or another that was difficult to read. The book is also funny at times and a couple of choice stories and phrases had me laughing out loud.

This could have been a book in itself, the chapters are brief and actually I wish he would have drawn this out more and made it its own book. The chapter about his beloved dog who could not turn east when he died was just heartbreaking. I also have a soft spot for Gary Paulsen because when I was in sixth grade, we read Hatchet, and I decided to write to him. At the time I believe he was living in Minnesota. He actually wrote back to me with a hand-signed, personal letter. I will never forget that!

Absolutely loved it. Paulsen was one of my favorite authors as a child and I am glad to see that my trust in him as an author was well-deserved. The descriptions of the cold were so chilling and unsettling that I had to turn this off a couple of times, but the honest tone about the brutal world of dogsledding made it all worthwhile. I definitely did not want to hear about some white guy trying to get back in touch with the wilderness and pretending he was Iron Will along the way; no no, this was just the right balance of self-deprecation and respect for wilderness.

Not only that, but the comparisons were to a diverse array of accomplished writers, indicating a versatility perhaps unequalled among his contemporaries. Woodsong is as offbeat a novel as any penned by Gary Paulsen, intended for kids and teens yet featuring a protagonist in his late thirties and older.

After the government issues a bounty on beavers to help control their destructive population, Paulsen establishes a trapline route across a fifty mile radius near his home, and begins raising dogs to pull his sled through the snowy land so he can regularly check his beaver traps.

Paulsen had to be trained when to assert his will and when to back off and let his dogs sort out the situation, and his proficiency as a musher gained more solid footing as his discretion improved. Moving a team of hulking sled dogs hundreds of miles a night in temperatures dipping as low as minus forty, fifty, or sixty degrees is dangerous, but if his dogs were up to the task than he could do it, too.

Their example instilled within Paulsen the indomitable spirit of canine nature, a rare gift impossible to develop apart from kinship with the animals in the intimacy of their pack.

Paulsen is the sink-or-swim student in Woodsong, observing the strange, fearsome beauty of nature and adapting to his own minor role in its vast circle of life. Paulsen stops his dog team to stare at the savagery of the massacre, gorily described in the rawness of bloody battle, the rending of flesh and entrails and vital organs with carnivorous teeth.

This is real wilderness eat-or-be-eaten, and Paulsen is sickened by it. Wolves are wolves, predators knowing only the drive to kill and eat, kill and eat however possible, with no concern for their prey or if their technique in bringing the creature down looks pretty.

It was unfair of Paulsen to demand the wolves conform to his expectations, an uninvolved species peering in on the ancient art of the hunt and judging it. I do not know how wolves think of themselves, nor does anybody, but I did know and still know that it was wrong to think they should be the way I wanted them to be. Its implications for the view humans take of one another is sobering, asking us to reconsider what we think of individuals who deviate from the code of conduct written by mainstream society, demanding they adhere to those values or be branded monsters who deserve to be put down for their crimes against decency.

But does the predatory human differ from the wolf chasing down deer and ripping them to bloody bits in the wild, caring only to satiate the natural craving within their own breasts? A sudden fear. The unexpected. He wrote Woodsong at the peak of his career, and it clearly shows. In hindsight, however, Paulsen sees the lesson Storm imparted to him that night, one he had to learn if Paulsen were to become an effective driver of the sled.

The blood, the anxiety I felt, the horror of it meant as little to Storm as the blood from the deer on the snow had meant to the wolves.

It was part of his life and if he could obey the one drive, the drive to be in the team and pull, then nothing else mattered. We fear blood; we fear hurt, worry, sadness, and grief so much, keeping it as far away as possible, dashing to the other side of the street to avoid it, fleeing when we think we see its approach, that we sometimes forget to live life without regret.

If we acknowledge that to ourselves and resolve to keep running despite the blood, following the course we were meant to travel and bravely allowing whatever will be to be, we open ourselves to live unencumbered by fear, to feel satisfied that we ran our hardest and lived life to the max no matter how it turns out in the end. Paulsen never could have learned this truth in such unforgettable fashion apart from Storm, who had yet one more major lesson to teach him before his life was through.

After one such occurrence when the tenacity and allegiance of a sled dog named Obeah was the only reason Paulsen lived, he began seeing the advantages dogs have over humans, especially their closeness as a pack that people have largely eschewed in favor of independence. And the dogs could teach me. The Iditarod is the place to do all that, but running the race will be much harder than even Paulsen realizes. If a dog is capable of playing pranks, of showing that complexity of personality, then other animals must be, as well.

For Paulsen, that was the last straw when it came to trapping. Personality is part of what makes us human, gives us pause before causing serious harm to a consciousness like our own, and the idea that animals could demonstrate human personality traits robbed Paulsen of any desire to kill and skin them for profit. Who can slaughter a creature who laughs and understands and has a sense of irony?

Many exceptionally substantive teen novels require four or five hundred pages to get their message across, but Gary Paulsen has fine-tuned the art of conveying his point in not much more than a hundred pages, and usually does it better than books quintuple that length. Regardless of awards, Woodsong should maintain its power to sway hearts in any time, place, or culture, a novel packed with hard questions and transcendent storytelling, an immutable anthem of what makes us alive and what defines us as human.

What a book. What an author. What a life.

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Woodsong by Gary Paulsen Summary

He has flown off the back of a dogsled and down a frozen waterfall to near disaster, and waited for a giant bear to seal his fate with one slap of a claw. He has led a team of sled dogs toward the Alaskan Mountain Range in an Iditarod — a 1,mile dogsled race — hallucinating from lack of sleep, but determined to finish. Here, in vivid detail, Paulsen recounts several of the remarkable experiences that shaped his life and inspired his writing. For a rugged outdoor man and his family, life in northern Minnesota is a wild experience involving wolves, deer, and the sled dogs that make their way of life possible.

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