These transcendent, lyrical essays on the West announced Gretel Ehrlich as a major American writer—“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,” Ehrlich explores the magical interplay between our interior lives and the world around us (Newsday).
“Vivid, tough, and funny . . . Wyoming has found its Whitman . . . An exuberant and powerful book.” —Annie Dillard, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
“[Ehrlich] brings the long vistas into focus with the poise of an Ansel Adams. . . . She has been to the mountaintop and seen the mountain for what it is.” —TheNew York Times Book Review
“A stunning rumination on life on Wyoming’s high plains . . . Ehrlich’s gorgeous prose is as expansive as a Wyoming vista, as charged as a bolt of prairie lightning.” —Newsday
“Ehrlich’s best prose belongs in a league with Annie Dillard and even Thoreau. The Solace of Open Spaces releases the bracing air of the wilderness into the stuffy, heated confines of winter in civilization.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“The most exciting new prose I’ve come across this season . . . Part travelogue, part meditation, these twelve pieces are lyrical, humorous, and eye-opening.” —Glamour
Gretel Ehrlich is an award-winning writer and naturalist. Born and raised in California, she was educated at Bennington College and UCLA Film School. She is the author of thirteen books, including the essay collection The Solace of Open Spaces (1985), the novel Heart Mountain (1988), and the memoirs A Match to the Heart: One Woman’s Story of Being Struck by Lightning (1994) and This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland (2001), as well as The Future of Ice: A Journey into Cold (2004), and, most recently, Facing the Wave: A Journey in the Wake of a Tsunami (2014). Her prose pieces have appeared in Harper’s, the Atlantic, the New York Times Magazine, and National Geographic, among many other publications. Ehrlich lives in Montana and Hawaii.