A collection of transcendent, lyrical essays on life in the American West, the classic companion to Gretel Ehrlich’s new book, Unsolaced “Wyoming has found its Whitman.” —Annie Dillard Poet and filmmaker Gretel Ehrlich went to Wyoming in 1975 to make the first in a series of documentaries when her partner died. Ehrlich stayed on and found she couldn’t leave. The Solace of Open Spaces is a chronicle of her first years on “the planet of Wyoming,” a personal journey into a place, a feeling, and a way of life. Ehrlich captures both the otherworldly beauty and cruelty of the natural forces—the harsh wind, bitter cold, and swiftly changing seasons—in the remote reaches of the American West. She brings depth, tenderness, and humor to her portraits of the peculiar souls who also call it home: hermits and ranchers, rodeo cowboys and schoolteachers, dreamers and realists. Together, these essays form an evocative and vibrant tribute to the life Ehrlich chose and the geography she loves. Originally written as journal entries addressed to a friend, The Solace of Open Spaces is raw, meditative, electrifying, and uncommonly wise. In prose “as expansive as a Wyoming vista, as charged as a bolt of prairie lightning” (Newsday), Ehrlich explores the magical interplay between our interior lives and the world around us.
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"Gretel Ehrlich's essays are beautiful and delicate, even when they describe a harsh and brutal environment. I think of her in the coven of Annie Dillard and MFK Fisher -- essayists who describe reality in its deep strangeness without trying to explain it away. "
LFR (5 out of 5 stars)