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The Land of Little Rain

Mary Hunter Austin

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Book Excerpt: 
. . ._28">28 hobo of the hills in localities where not even an Indian would look for it.

It is the opinion of many wise and busy people that the hill-folk pass the ten-month interval between the end and renewal of winter rains, with no drink; but your true idler, with days and nights to spend beside the water trails, will not subscribe to it. The trails begin, as I said, very far back in the Ceriso, faintly, and converge in one span broad, white, hard-trodden way in the gully of the spring. And why trails if there are no travelers in that direction?

I have yet to find the land not scarred by the thin, far roadways of rabbits and what not of furry folks that run in them. Venture to look for some seldom-touched water-hole, and so long as the trails run with your general direction make sure you are right, but if they begin to cross yours29 at never so slight an angle, to converge toward a point left or right of your objective, no matter what the maps. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Land of Little Rain is Mary Austin's 1903 account of the deserts of the American Southwest. Her text is as spare and secretly seductive as the deserts of which she writes.
Austin lived, for a time, in Independence, CA, until the water literally went south.
Complex woman; complex environment; straigh

I absolutely enjoyed this book in every possible way you can enjoy reading. Each night I treasured the 10 minutes I got (before getting too sleepy) to go back in time to the land and the era she describes. I felt as thought Mary Austin provided a literal time machine for me and all readers, to hop i

I read this in an English class I'm taking. I gave this book two stars because it is beautifully written and explores a terrain (the California desert) that is utterly foreign to me and that I knew nothing about. It is, however, long-winded and boring, and a mere 110 pages took me over a week to get

Apparently, Austin viewed her writing as the desert equivalent of Thoreau's writing on New England. There are similiarities between the two. There's much in the way of dry description that is not particularly interesting. The writing is void of Muir-like passion, but is interspersed here and there w

Another from my Spinners' Wheel list of titles written by California authors from years ago, this is a collection of lovely essays describing the desert country so dear to the author.
The country where you may have sight and touch of that which is written lies between the high Sierras south from Yose

This is a set of essays unified by their setting in the deserts east of the Sierras at the end of the 19th century. I love this part of California and know a bit about its natural history (well, mostly its flora), but I go there very much as a visitor from a much greener, kinder part of the state. M

The author of this short work of non-fiction, Mary Hunter Austin, was one of a number of fascinating women who were writing in California in the early 20th century. Many of them were journalists. Mary Austin was not. She was born in 1868 in Illinois and in 1888 (ten years after the death of her fath

"Mary Austin was convinced that the valley [Owens Valley*] had died when it sold its first water right to Los Angeles--that city would never stop until it owned the whole river and all of the land. One day, in Los Angeles for an interview with Mulholland, she told him so. After she had left, a subor

The writing: pure poetry. Mary Austin's words sing just as brightly more than a century later.

I know there are many, many versions of this volume that are available, but I was lucky enough to read the volume produced in 1903. Inside the dull and worn brown library binding, sits a singular layout, wh

From the height of a horse you look down to clean spaces in a shifty yellow soil, bare to the eye as a newly sanded floor. Then as soon as ever the hill shadows begin to swell out from the sidelong ranges, come little flakes of whiteness fluttering at the edge of the sand. By dusk there are

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