Red Ant House
By Ann Cummins
(Mariner Books, Paperback, 9780618269259, 192pp.)
Publication Date: April 2003
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Denis Johnson meets Flannery O’Connor in this luminous collection of short stories about the collision of cultures, genders, and generations in the American Southwest. Set mainly amid Indian reservations and uranium mills, these twelve stories create a kaleidoscopic view of family, myth, love, landscape, and loss in a place where infinite skies and endless roads suggest a world of possibility, yet dreams are deceiving, like an oasis, just beyond reach. Whether it’s a young woman pushed quite literally to the edge on a desolate mountain pass, an orphaned brother and sister trying to patch together an existence one stitch at a time, a cop who suspects his kleptomaniac wife is stealing from other people materially and emotionally or a wily roadside hypnotist whose alleged power is both wonderful and strange, Ann Cummins’s characters want to transcend the circumstances of their lives, to believe in the eventuality of change.
Again and again, Ann Cummins generates imagery of white-hot intensity and pushes the limits of both the human spirit and the short story form. Gritty, seductive, and always daring, this unforgettable debut collection puts forth a haunting new vision of hope and heartache in contemporary America and confirms the arrival of an important new voice.
Ann Cummins is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Arizona writing programs. She is the author of Red Ant House, a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and Best Book of the Year. She has had her stories published in The New Yorker, McSweeney's, Quarterly West, and the Sonora Review, among other publications, as well as The Best American Short Stories 2002. The recipient of a Lannan fellowship, she divides her time between Oakland, California, where she lives with her husband, and Flagstaff, Arizona, where she teaches creative writing at Northern Arizona University.
"Cummins writes deep, from the gut - a refreshing change from all the brainy brawn out there." Elle
"Strong if uneven: the emerging voice of a new talent to watch." Kirkus Reviews
"Cummins will deservedly gain more appreciative fans with this finely wrought collection." Booklist, ALA
"Holds so many moments ripe with emotion that it is almost an injustice to read straight through." Baltimore City Paper
"Cummins' writing is both gritty and polished...This debut collection is haunting, and leaves the reader wanting more." The Seattle Times
"Overall these stories emanate suspense, inspiring page-turning tension that nudges the reader from one tale to the next." The Washington Times
"Brilliantly imagined prose that boasts surprises like small electric shocks." The San Francisco Chronicle
"Cummins' stories give a similarly illicit kick of fleeting yet indelible intimacy" Los Angeles Times
"Cummins speaks through [her characters] instead so we hear their woe loud and clear." Entertainment Weekly
"[Cummins'] dark, offbeat style and ability to make the reader uncomfortable are on full display...Clever and entertaining experiments." Publishers Weekly
"Cummins gives us snapshots of intense characters who are propelled by untamed forces within themselves." The Arizona Daily Sun
"Fine, funky stories by a young author duly praised by heavyweights Dave Eggers and John Barth." Boston Phoenix
More than 150 writers from 40 events will gather in New York City for PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, April 28 – May 4, 2014.
For its 10th anniversary, the festival celebrates those who have dared to stand ‘on the edge,’ risking their careers, and sometimes their lives, to speak out for their art and beliefs. Join us for a wide range of events, including debates, one-on-one conversations, participatory workshops and performances in venues throughout the city. Use the code PEN14 (use PEN2014 for events at The Public Theater) and receive a 20 percent discount on most events. www.worldvoicesfestival.org