A collection--edited by, and with an introduction by, Kevin Hearle--of the best and most representative California works of Mary Austin, including the entire text of her classic book The Land of Little Rain; a number of her finest short stories; the first chapter of her long- suppressed but wonderful feminist novel Cactus Thorn; selections from her non-fiction work The Flock; her recollections of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, of Jack London and the founding days of the bohemian community of Carmel, and--from her autobiography--of the early days riding the Mojave stagecoach.
Kevin gives an overview of the book:
There are many areas in the desert where drinkable water lies within a few feet of the surface, indicated by the mesquite and the bunch grass (Sporobolus airoides). It is this nearness of unimagined help that makes the tragedy of desert deaths. It is related that the final breakdown of that hapless party that gave Death Valley its forbidding name occurred in a locality where shallow wells would have saved them. But how were they to know that? Properly equipped it is possible to go safely across that ghastly sink, yet every year it takes its toll of death, and yet men find there sun-dried mummies, of whom no trace or recollection is preserved. To underestimate one's thirst, to pass a given landmark to the right or left, to find a dry spring where one looked for running water--there is no help for any of these things.
I am a 5th generation Californian, descended from '49ers who headed south in 1870. My great-great grandfather was the first doctor in Santa Ana. I was born in Santa Ana and raised there and in Irvine. I moved to Northern California to attend Stanford University and become a...