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The Land of Little Rain

Narrated by: Ellen Parker
Length: 3 hrs and 47 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

First published in 1903, The Land of Little Rain is Mary Austin's classic homage to the American Southwest. Her collection of short stories and essays takes listeners on an enchanted journey through Death Valley, the High Sierras, and the Mojave Desert.

Public Domain (P)2018 Silver Hollow Audio

Critic Reviews

Ellen Parker's fine narration of this classic collection of meditations on the arid reaches of California is by turns intimate and inspiring. Her nuanced approach--deliberately paced, thoughtfully delivered--fits the the tone and style of this personal exploration of the Owens Valley, which is bounded by the Sierras, near Death Valley and the Mojave Desert. Parker's narration gives the listener a personal look at this lesser-known domain of coyotes, buzzards, foolish rabbits, and the thick-skinned folks who inhabit this place of heat, washouts, and wannabe miners. Originally published in 1903, Austin's words, poetic yet pragmatic, become even more vivid through Parker's elegant performance. Austin's observations of desert ways live on in this rewarding, if all too brief, audiobook. A.D.M. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award 

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A Timely Audio Recording

Ellen Parker's performance of The Land of Little Rain helps to render Austin's 1903 collection of essays more accessible to listeners. Situated in Southern California's desert country, Austin invites readers to consider those plants and non-human and human animals that inhabit the desert. She moves readers through different biospheres, from Death Valley's alkaline flats to the Sierra's flowered meadows. Similarly, she encourages readers to consider those people who call the area home, paying particular attention to persons on the margin of mainstream American culture. These people include pocket hunters, indigenous persons, and Mexican communities.

Parker's performance plays into these invitations and highlights what Robert Haas has called Austin's "intimate observations." She reads the essay as conversational, often moving through topics like a trusted friend. This helps situate listeners into Southern California and Austin's observations. Parker also helps listeners better understand the author's lyrical style. The Land of Little Rain can be difficult for lay readers, so listening to Parker's recording while reading the text will be beneficial to those unfamiliar with Austin's prose.

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Landscape and portrait all in one

I felt as if I were there, hovering above looking at landscape and people from above and within, This book involved all my senses and sensibilities. I could smell a storm coming, see animals and birds, feel the soft and harshness of the landscape and its inhabitants. I enjoyed Mary Austin's fashioning of language made all the more accessible by Ellen Parker's reading of it. I love a book that draws me in, that allows me to become fascinated and immersed with a place, people or event. I love being guided into the extraordinary within the ordinary. I'd love to hear more!

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Narration breathes new life into nature classic

Ellen Parker's narration breathes new life into Austin's classic, The Land of Little Rain. Austin's writing, which was at times a challenge as I read it on paper, is now easily digestible, thanks to Parker's intentional and contemplative reading. Mary Austin beautifully captures the American Southwest, with a wonderful mix of nature, Native American and Mexican culture, and characters of the "Wild West." Land of Little Rain is right at home in the canon of American nature classics. Surprised it has taken this long to hear her words read aloud.

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