THE SOLACE OF OPEN SPACES by Gretel Ehrlich

THE SOLACE OF OPEN SPACES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An auspicious beginning for a writer sure to be reckoned with. Ehrlich (essays and poetry in The New York Times, Atlantic, Vanity Fair) enthralls and enchants with her tales of an East Coast, college-educated, ""culture straddler"" making it as a sheepherder in the Wyoming wilderness. Ehrlich brings to our senses the sight, smells and visages of life in the harsh badlands of Wyoming. Doses of western wisdom (honesty is stronger medicine than sympathy--which may console but often conceals) permeate a land where ""humans are outnumbered by the animals."" Across the ""tumbled, wasted desert, ribboned with faded deathbed colors,"" Ehrlich tells her saga of life, death, and the pride of a west still primitive and unashamed of its shortcomings. With a keen eye for detail and nuance, we watch the rhythmic ""beat of an Indian dance pull the sun up"" as a modern brave in full ceremonial regalia lounges on the hood of his Corvette. Like most first works, this one has its flaws. Words like declivitous, libidinous, anathema--are used too freely and set our ears to ringing--of being out of place and superimposed. Scenes are repeated (Keith's death and the barking of his dog). But when Ehrlich doesn't take the preachy tone of someone writing to impress an editor and sticks to the basics, "". . .the sperm, blood and guts business of ranching"" comes alive as do the rock-tough truths of her prose and the morality of a culture she identifies with and wishes us to see and experience. Impressive.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1985
ISBN: 0140081135
Publisher: Viking