Loss and recovery, isolation and connectedness are themes running through this powerful, idiosyncratic collection of naturalisticper web essays. Observing nature's rule over her Wyoming farm, Ehrlich ( The Solace of Open Spaces ) notes both predictable shifts, like the sweep of seasons, and random events, like an early thaw at calving time that brought rampant bacterial infection to her herd. Without sentimentality, she moves between external conditions and internal, comparing her recovery from a lengthy illness to spring, or seeing in the diversity among bear dens an early order of the impulse to individuate (``Architecture''). Trips to Japan (``The Bridge to Heaven'') and to a California island near her birthplace (``Home Is How Many Places'') support her subtextual investigation of islands as symbol of isolation or metaphor of an individual's being fully embraced by his or her surroundings. Ehrlich's prose, while sometimes tangled in extravagant philosophical leaps, nevertheless yields provocative images, like that of a line of tree shadows frost-white against a warmed, darkened field. She is best when descriptive, her sharp eye cast unblinking both within and without. (Oct.)
Ehrlich's well-received work, The Solace of Open Spaces ( LJ 11/1/85), is a collection of descriptive essays about Wyoming sheepherders, cowboys, Native Americans, and desolate spaces. Her new work begins and ends in Wyoming, but goes beyond, to the Channel Islands off the California coast and to mountain Shinto temples in Japan, where the author made a pilgrimage. Her essays, however, are not tied to place, and thus these leaps enlarge, rather than jar, her writing; she uses place as a point of departure for her images and explorations of architecture, anthropology, a golden eagle, the Yellowstone fire, physics, time, astronomy, and much more. Ehrlich has also published poetry and short stories, including the recent Drinking Dry Clouds: Stories from Wyoming ( LJ 6/15/91). Her thoughtful, poetic language is a pleasure to read. Recommended for general literature collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/91.--Mary Margaret Benson, Linfield Coll. Lib., McMinnville, Ore.