...[a] stunning and sharp book ... As both a storyteller and a stylist, Braverman is remarkably skilled, with a keen sense of visceral detail that borders on sublime. But her ability to draw readers into heart-pounding action sequences — from the 'perfect wave' of a sled dog team bounding across the snow to the disorienting rotor wash of tourist helicopters in a whiteout — is what makes the book so courageous and original as both a travel narrative and a memoir of self-discovery.
Part of me wanted to shut the book before another man did something awful. I didn’t, because I recognized that Braverman, an unflinching journalist, has written something extraordinary ... while we are treated to spell-binding scenes involving dogsleds and blizzards, unlikely friendships and unforgettable characters, at the story’s center is Braverman’s clear-eyed, at times heartbreaking account of navigating a space that is not unique: the wilderness that is the world of men ... What happens to most women are not unimaginable, sensational crimes, but smaller, repeated violations that if not known by us, are fully imaginable. Braverman shows us how they happen, how and why we often dismiss them, and how easily they can strip away a woman’s power, leaving her in sometimes paralyzing self-doubt and fear.
...[a] remarkable memoir ... Though the narrative jumps back and forth in time, Braverman’s clear, firm voice holds the story together ... It’s amazing to watch as she develops backbone and grit, determined not to let anyone or anything stand between her and the icy landscape she loves so much.
...[a] nuanced, witty, wise, eccentric story ... In some ways, this book is the story of Arild as much as it is of Braverman. He’s the unlikeliest of heroes, a puttering, low-key, mild-mannered, married man old enough to be Braverman’s father. He offers her shelter, safety, humor and kindness, becoming a platonic father figure, someone she can completely trust when she most needs to trust someone ... Braverman is a lyrical, understated writer, but her story’s pacing is often confusing, as she moves back and forth in time, and some of her anecdotes veer off into nowhere, with no point. Still, this unusual memoir will resonate with anyone who has ever chased a dream through a thicket of difficulty.
The author skips back and forth in time, with accounts of her learning to care for and eventually run sled dogs providing thrilling moments, but it’s her portrait of this friend and father figure that lends a warm glow to this thoughtful meditation on a lifelong attraction to the cold.
Braverman avoids the common pitfalls of the 'finding yourself' genre by refusing to treat nature as a cure-all to what ails her, opting instead for ongoing growth and reconciliation, and never quite coming to firm conclusions, even by book’s end ... the understated writing making room for big events to pack a more powerful punch ... At times this narrative structure is confusing, especially in the opening chapters, before the reader is acquainted with Braverman’s history ... a strange, remarkable memoir.
Each of her initial forays into the north is hilarious and heart-wrenching in its own way. Braverman truly comes into her own when she leaves Alaska and returns to Norway, this time to the village of Mortenhals ... Braverman's Arctic is one of sex, drugs and violence. Yet among the brawling men of Mortenhals she finds order in arranging the village's old shop as a folk museum. Sorting Norwegian farm implements brings a long-sought peace, and she finds her northern home at last.
With grace and lyrical prose, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube is at once an adventurous travelogue and an intimately personal narrative. Throughout this tender and honest memoir, Braverman, a graduate of the Iowa’s Writers Workshop, brilliantly captures the stark landscapes of the North and her repeated attempts to thrive in their extremely harsh conditions.
The temptation is strong to proclaim Braverman’s memoir a landmark of contemporary feminist literature. But it deserves more credit ... The book’s inherent power is unpolluted by cliché. Braverman does not inform the reader that a rape took place; the reader is witness. Braverman does not explain the Arctic survivalist patriarchy; the reader sees it. Braverman does not explicitly state that sexual harassment and assault abound; the reader watches the disconnect develop between the woman and her body. Braverman removes her story from the tangled web of gender-political jargon and allows it to stand on its own.