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Selected as a Best Nonfiction Book of the Year 2021 by Bookshop staff:
Gretel Ehrlich, author of the groundbreaking The Solace of Open Spaces, chronicles her intimacy with the natural world and the ways that our changing planet offered her both the comfort and tragic loss of sacred places. An ode to the importance of the earth in these fraught times.
From the author of the enduring classic The Solace of Open Spaces, here is a wondrous meditation on how water, light, wind, mountain, bird, and horse have shaped her life and her understanding of a world besieged by a climate crisis.
Amid species extinctions and disintegrating ice sheets, this stunning collection of memories, observations, and narratives is acute and lyrical, Whitmanesque in breadth, and as elegant as a Japanese teahouse. “Sentience and sunderance,” Ehrlich writes. “How we know what we know, who teaches us, how easy it is to lose it all.” As if to stave off impending loss, she embarks on strenuous adventures to Greenland, Africa, Kosovo, Japan, and an uninhabited Alaskan island, always returning to her simple Wyoming cabin at the foot of the mountains and the trail that leads into the heart of them.
About the Author
GRETEL EHRLICH is the author of Facing the Wave, The Future of Ice, Heart Mountain, The Solace of Open Spaces, This Cold Heaven, and Unsolsced, among other works of nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. Ehrlich studied at Bennington College and UCLA film school. She divides her time between Montana and Hawaii.
“An intimate, engaging memoir . . . In lush, evocative prose, Ehrlich details some breathtakingly perilous journeys . . . A vigorous plea for responsible environmental stewardship and a treat for all fans of nature writing.” —Kirkus Review (starred)
“Perpetual motion fuels this episodic memoir about loss and getting lost . . . . After years of living and working outdoors, she empathizes with those for whom climate change is an acute trauma: nomadic sea-ice hunters with no ice, shepherds tending cattle in drought-stricken lands. Her immersion in timeless, strenuous modes of life yields a message of profound fulfillment.” —The New Yorker
“Gripping . . . Ehrlich chronicles with enthralling precision the to-the-brink physicality of hard work and daring expeditions and the meditative states nature summons . . . Writing with fire and ice of beauty, risk, and devastation, Ehrlich shares wonder, wisdom, candor, and concern to soul-ringing effect.” —Booklist (starred)
“Gretel Ehrlich's account of her journeys in far flung parts of the natural world have the emotional intensity and scrupulous detail of someone looking for home. Compelled to share her hopes for success, the reader will discover a thrilling, informative, hard won book.” —Thomas McGuane, author of Ninety-Two in the Shade
“A lovingly observed account of the lives of people, animals and the landscapes that sustain them, spun together as deftly as a spider’s web, filled with purpose and urgency."
Ehrlich's memories, rendered in rich, lyrical language, make for a moving ode to a changing planet.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)
“Global climate change means that landscapes we thought were forever are impermanent, while the pandemic makes clear that control over our human environment is equally illusory. And yet, out of this instability, the kinetoscope-like structure of Ehrlich's memoir offers views of a rich and full life . . . Poetic . . . [She] creates visceral responses in the reader . . . Ehrlich reminds us of what is at stake as we confront the climate crisis.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
"A nuanced meditation on the sacred spaces disappearing before our eyes . . . Unsolaced is unpredictably timely, a compelling adventure story and an inward and outward journey that may leave the reader with more questions than answers in these uncertain times, the most provoking being, “Where do we go to find solace now?”" —Washington Independent Review of Books
"As a work of nature writing, UNSOLACED is a demonstration of what Ehrlich does best: use lush prose to breathe life into landscapes that have brought her comfort." —Outside
"In Unsolaced, Gretel Ehrlich presents us with an open, thoughtful look at one Western woman’s life and what she continues to make of it—her experiences, the rootstock of her writing. The result is a fine read." —Western Horseman