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The Land Of Little Rain
by Mary Hunter Austin
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From ; review by Kirsten Backstrom
"To understand the fashion of any life, one must know the land it is lived in and the procession of the year." Mary Austin was one of this country's early writers of natural history and natural philosophy; in her classic The Land of Little Rain she explores the deserts of Arizona and Southern California, recording details of landscape and wildlife in prose that is as expansive and exacting as the desert itself. To survive and even flourish in such a harsh environment, the inhabitants (human and non-human) must adapt themselves to the demands of the climate and terrain and to each other. The experiences that shape personal truth must be grounded in the hard, dry soil of concession and nourished by relentless attention to the rapport between self and surroundings. Going beyond the role of the observer to become a participant in the ecology of the desert, Mary Austin describes a world that does not support or encourage human purposes, but follows a more compelling imperative. She recognizes this imperative, combining a deferential relationship to resources like water - "one expects to find springs, but not to depend upon them" - with an ultimate respect for the personal resources that enable individuals to live with the limitations, the risks, and the magnificence of such a place. -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14.
Beautiful, poetic study of the Southwestern desert. Fourteen sketches describe plants, animals, mountains, birds, skies, Indians, prospectors, towns, other features in serene, beautifully modulated prose. Desert seen as a place of rare, austere beauty that weaves a lasting spell over its inhabitants. Preface.
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