Red Ant House
By Ann Cummins
(Mariner Books, Paperback, 9780618269259, 192pp.)
Publication Date: March 6, 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.