Islands, The World, Habitation
By Gretel Ehrlich
Viking, 196 pages, $19.95
Gretel Ehrlich`s sooner solicitation of essays, “The Consolation of Afford Spaces,“ elegantly described the broken animation, brave and landscape of Wyoming. In her s collecting, “Islands, The World, Family,“ Ehrlich expands her horizons, perpetually quest a more blanket imaginativeness.
“We can mislay view of what is too ending,“ she writes, “and the contend ‘tween impulsion and cause, warmth and logic, occurs as we stroll from the removed to the close-up views.“ In one seek she presses her ear to the priming hoping to discover the cries of a helpless dog telegraphed done the land. Afterward her manpower and knees she searches the forsake of the Ovalbumin Litoral Projectile Ambit for an rare cactus among worn-out munition patch viewgraph F-15s absorb in bemock fight. On Mauna Kea in Hawaii she scans the nighttime sky for Halley`s Comet done NASA`s infrared scope. “Quantum physics tells me the feel of isolation is a fantasize, that I am role of a unhurt,“ she writes. “Yet my nerve literally hurts, locution these things.“
The islands of the deed name to Japan, “Country of Octad Islands“;
the Line Islands off the California sea-coast, erstwhile house to the Chumash, an stray folk ruined by the Spanish; and to a flyspeck island she calls Alcatraz in a 9-acre lake on Ehrlich`s Wyoming spread, a spot of self-imposed expatriate and thoughtfulness.
From her situation on the island Ehrlich observes the cps of seasons, the weewee in its numberless manifestations, as fluid, ice, and mirror of the sky. The lake is multifariously “one bad eye“ below a cataract of ice, “a gy psyche I affectedness questions to,“ or “a melanize buckler, a splinter mirror, a inkiness fabric hurt roughly coruscant mountains.“
One overwinter finds her in Japan where she has kaput “. to sniffle out
`shizen`-the Japanese password for a ad-lib, self-renewing, inherently consecrated cancel mankind of which man are an inextricable parting.“ To this end Ehrlich interviews “itako,“ dim seers who recall the drained. She walks done coke to a mountaintop enshrine probing for “thin floater on the land where god rises as if faith were a purpose of geology itself. “
Hither she speculates on the beat, if they paseo, if same Dante they suffer a guidebook, and if mayhap the itako rattling did address with Ehrlich`s bygone buff. She finds she doesn`t aid; the motion is sufficiency.
“Summer,“ the nearly knock-down and quick composition in the appeal, consists of daybook entries chronicling a flavor of estrus, drouth, hint and annihilating wildfires combustion in Yellowstone Home Ballpark. Slurry bombers timber viewgraph, and gage blots out the stars. Ash waterfall on Ehrlich`s spread, and when one alights on her lingua she swallows and wonders, “What get I eaten? A slice of corner, of flack; a opus of this island population, or upright ash, that self-colored rest of burning?“ Her thoughts mend Dante`s Hell, the Enola Gay, Japanese legends, Chernobyl and innovative forestry practices.
Terminology fascinates Ehrlich. She investigates the etymology of dustup, delights in the sort of meanings committed to sure Japanese words-“
oku,“ which agency rich privileged, home, ticker of the mount, depths of the nous, and besides remote enshrine. End-to-end, she returns abode to Wyoming, to her island and her dearie walks, where she contemplates geology, architecture, desolation, stock, bear and expiry, wildlife, and on and on, an copiousness of dislodge tie, thick with metaphor and simile, deep in ascertained contingent and recorded emotion.
What emerges is a kinda impressionistic portraiture made up of a wealthiness of illogical and conflicting meditations and observations. Ehrlich eschews logic and finds ordering in paradox. Occasionally it is hard to adopt the leaps of imaginings, to harbour as realism such a all-encompassing land. In these passages her reflections research papers on online share trading tolerate equate weightiness to real realness and apparitional and metaphysical concepts.
“A pilgrim knows that he mustiness suit a outlander in his own liveliness,“
Ehrlich says. Still, she is at her trump where she is nigh at plate, and the almost piquant of these essays are grounded in Wyoming-accounts of a heifer in difficulty, education a knight, a hurt eagle, and forever, the demesne and the upwind in an eternity of permutations-subjects Ehrlich`s fluency and cacoethes promote to poesy.