Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Land of Little Rain


Man is a great blunderer going about in the woods, and there is no other except the bear makes so much noise. Being so well warned beforehand, it is a very stupid animal, or a very bold one, that cannot keep safely hid. The cunningest hunter is hunted in turn, and what he leaves of his kill is meat for some other. That is the economy of nature, but with it all there is not sufficient account taken of the works of man. There is no scavenger that eats tin cans, and no wild thing leaves a like disfigurement on the forest floor.”

This 1903 work from Mary Hunter Austin can be thought of as a South-westerner’s poetic agreement with Thoreau. In a series of observational walks Austin reveals the beauty of the desert that she sees so ably. She offers evocative expressions of the landscape, insightful commentary regarding the flora and fauna and how to “see” as they do and ends the volume with a few choice comments on the difference between those who live on or close to the land and those who don’t.

While not Western fiction it is a landmark record and love-letter to the environment of the genre.

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