It’s titled after the opening story, a story about a young girl who is surrounded by people who barter with other people’s secrets. She has an eye for the hidden world: the man down the block who has two families, a secret one and a public one; the bachelor whose appetites lead him into danger and shame. She’s cunning and is leaping toward a shady adulthood herself. If she were an insect, she might be a fire ant burning brightly in dark places. The image of the ant house seemed right for this story. It suggests an intricate network of relationships, all hidden underground.
Ms. Cummins has published stories in The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, and The Best American Short Stories 2002, among other publications. (Thanks to S.A. for the link.)