Reading the Western Landscape Jan/Feb 2011

The Reading the Western Landscape Book Group met Jan. 5, 2011, to discuss The Solace of Open Spaces.  Below is a summary of the questions that were brought up for that book and a preview of the book that will be discussed on February 2.

Previous book selections can be found here and future selections here.
Previous Book
January 2011 – The Solace of Open Spaces

The Solace of Open Spaces, by Gretel Ehrlich; New York: Viking ©1985.  Find it at your local library.
From Publishers Weekly: Like many before her, poet Gretel Ehrlich discovered the therapeutic qualities of the West. In 1976, a time of personal crisis, she moved from the East to a small farm in Wyoming where she ultimately found peace of mind and inspiration. Originally, she had gone west to make a film for PBS; she returned to work with neighbors at cattle- and sheep-ranching, taking pleasure in open spaces. Ehrlich writes with sensitivity and affection about people, the seasons and the landscape. Whether she is enjoying solitude or companionship, her writing evokes the romance and timelessness of the West. Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Specific questions for this book include:

Give some examples of Ms. Ehrlich's vision of this new place that she was immersed in for the first time. 

What are some details that someone who has lived there a long time might take for granted and not tease out into a story?

Tell us about how her characterizations of communication styles helped you understand the community. Do you agree with her generalization that those communication styles make it “western” or are they just “rural?” This book was published in 1985. What kind of change has there been in those generalizations? 

How did Wyoming help her mourning?

What did you find astonishing about the ranching life?

What does she mean by a “Nabokovian invention of rarified detail?”

How do the essays create a whole?  

 

Next Book
February 2011 – Tales of Burning Love: A Novel
Discussion on Wednesday, February 2, 2011, 7:00 p.m.

Tales of Burning Love: A Novel, by Louise Erdrich; New York: HarperCollins ©1996.  Find it at your local library.
Four women share their secrets after the funeral of their ex-husband. It happens when they decide to ride back together and the car becomes stuck in a snow storm. They all agree he was a good-for-nothing, so why did they marry him? The setting is North Dakota. From the WorldCat summary.
 

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