Mary Hunter Austin’s “The Land of Little Rain” is a celebrated tale of the Southwest, a pastiche of fantasy and truth-telling that brings the austere desert landscape to life.
Written in 1903, the book has been republished several times over the years, but never so vividly as when accompanied by the remarkable desert photography of Walter Feller. Tracing Austin’s metaphorical steps through the Mojave Desert, Feller illustrates the book’s wild tales with equally dramatic imagery.
In Feller’s photographs, the sun reflects colorfully from rocks, plants and animals emerge from the shadows, and the desert moonscape comes to life. It is the perfect complement to Austin’s stories of nature, ghost towns, unusual human and animal inhabitants and myths and legends of the desert.
Born in Iowa, Feller went from a fascination with the contrasts of icy Midwest winter scenes to an appreciation of the light and shadows play over the deserts and mountains of Southern California. He has lived for more than three decades on the edge of the Mojave Desert and has spent much of that time working on a project to document the Mojave. His work on “The Land of Little Rain” is the fruit of those efforts.