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The ant generator -- Patsy soames's ghost story about farley -- Hybrid wolfdogs -- The world record holder -- Like family -- The grand duke of redonda -- Give -- The catfish-head tree -- Coming into Rio Harbor -- All dance -- The green balcony


Punctuated with weirdly comic moments, the stories in The Ant Generator reflect Harris's view of the world as a slightly strange place with shifting, dubious boundaries. Men and women encounter the commonplace improbabilities of modern life: a woman who works in an archaeological museum dreams of order but experiences random violence, a bored schoolteacher gets into the Book of World Records by standing on one foot.

In the various interactions of mind and matter in Harris's affecting stories, people try to force their experience into simple shapes, against natural and social opposition, with comic or tragic results. Sometimes their determination to command their own meaning is redemptive and creative; at other times they confront the luminous mystery and unforgiving character of the natural world or the anger of the dispossessed. Harris sensitively creates individuals who respond to the ordinary in extraordinary ways, characters who think in dreams and visions and who, like the author, employ rare gifts.

Series Title

John Simmons Short Fiction Award

Award Date



Robinson, Marilynne

Publication Date



University of Iowa Press


Iowa City

Total Pages


ISBN of Print Version



Copyright © 1991 by Elizabeth Harris. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording, without permission in writing from the publisher.

The Ant Generator