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The Solace of Open Spaces Paperback – December 2, 1986
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"When it's fifty below, the mercury bottoms out and jiggles there as if laughing at those of us still above ground. Once I caught myself on tiptoes, peering down into the thermometer as if there were an extension inside inscribed with higher and higher declarations of physical misery: ninety below to the power of ten and so on."
After experiencing the isolated life of a sheep herder, she writes, "Keenly observed the world is transformed. The landscape is engorged with detail, every movement on it chillingly sharp. The air between people is charged. Days unfold, bathed in their own music. Nights become hallucinatory; dreams, prescient."
Ehrlich's gift is one of subtle precision. She writes beauty into the plainest of thoughts and meaning into the simplest of ideas: "True solace is finding none, which is to say, it is everywhere." --Kathryn True
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
In The Solace of Open Spaces, Erlich presents us with an eclectic bunch of frontier characters that she met while working as a ranch hand. Almost unaware of what's been accomplished, we readers find ourselves shedding former stereotypes of these people in exchange for seeing them for what they are: unique, quirky, interesting, inexplicable men and women. The Weather (and the word deserves that capital letter, as you'll see upon reading the book) plays as large a role as the people in Ehrlich's book.
About the title: When she arrived in Wyoming, Erlich was grieving the death of someone important to her. As she works hard at physical labor, meets new people, falls in love with the land, and sheds her past like sweat running down her back, healing from grief occurs - although she doesn't exactly say this.
Altogether, a beautiful book and a wonderful read.
Her portrayal of the men who work in this environment is very different from the stereotypes we know from Marlboro ads, "Bonanza," and movie westerns. She finds cowboys often tender-hearted, quirky, and curiously courtly. Not to be outdone by the men in this world of extremes and hard work, the women she meets and befriends are tough-minded and independent. Completing her picture are the Native Americans, whom she portrays respectfully and with an ironic appreciation for incongruity, as they both recover and reinvent a lost heritage.
Hers is also a personal story. Beginning with the wrenching death of a close male friend, it recounts in her growing love for Wyoming and its people the discovery of a new life. And while her book is no heart-on-the-sleeve display of pain and recovery, one senses at almost every step the healing process that underlies the words. As slender as a book of poems, this volume of essays calls out to be read slowly and savored, word for word.
Gretel Ehrlich writes about the true Wyoming of vast, lonely spaces, and brutal, bone chilling winters. In her book, it is a place to lose oneself and then find redemption in the rhythm of life lived in a hard place. She writes about the people that live in this place and their relationships.She writes of lonliness and endurance, friendship and new beginnings.
The highlight of the book, for me, is "The Rules of the Game", an appreciative essay on Rodeo. I've not read anything like it. Ms Ehrlich's description finds the beauty in this celebration of both individual skill and achievement, and the power and grace of teamwork. It's a lovely piece in a wonderful book.
This is a spirited, moving, and perceptive portrait of a land that can be both hostile and nurturing, and those people who have become a part of the country. The author relates her responses to the land, tying these reactions to emotional transformations she experienced as she learned the territory and its ways.
Yes, the book is good as a travelogue. However, it really excels in its analysis of a land and its people. Ehrlich's book both confirmed and sharpened the impressions I had developed as I learned about my new home. Wherever you live, this is an excellent book for you to read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was introduced to Gretel Ehrlich by a good friend in the early 90's and was humbled by her prose. Nowhere before had I read such magnificent and insightful impressions. Read morePublished 14 days ago by Bubbalicious
The book was not in good condition at all with tons of written notations throughout. Very distracting.Published 2 months ago by Mama win
The character development/descriptions was great, but the authors flowery sentences were too much.
Again, great characters.
I was in Wyoming this past September and the tour guide mentioned Ehrlich's book a couple of times in his commentary. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Susan D.
Gretel Ehrlich's first book, and arguably her best. I have re-read this book many times and never get tired of her voice and honesty. Read morePublished 10 months ago by PC