Recent reading: Ann Cummins
I've enjoyed the 12 stories in Ann Cummins' collection, and recommend them. Half appeared earlier in either McSweeney's (the weirder stories) or The New Yorker, the others in smaller journals. The p.o.v. character is usually female, often adolescent -- either "white" or Navajo -- and the landscapes of desert and mountains of Arizona are sharply observed. The power dynamics involve older males (sometimes just an older brother, sometimes a more sinister, more powerful figure, in one a goofy, hapless victim) and younger females, "Indians" and "whites," bosses and flunkies. I thought about these stories again this morning when I read the NYT article headlined "Unruly Students Facing Arrest, Not Detention" -- about how the ordinary rebellion of ordinary kids gets criminalized because the school systems are so starved for funds they can no longer afford guidance counselors or other services, and because there are no decent jobs for those kids who would rather not be in school anyway. Ann Cummins knows this territory. For my further comments, see the note in my "Fiction Readings" page on Ann Cummins, Red Ant House.

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