In The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro, a pioneering abstract painter in the 1940s disappears without a trace. Seventy years later, her great-niece begins looking for answers, peeking behind the scenes of the Abstract Expressionism movement.
Our reviewer writes, "As was the case with her previous book, the bestseller The Art Forger, Shapiro’s understanding of art is clear. Also like that 2012 tale, The Muralist is a compelling mystery. But even though The Art Forger was a smashing success, readers should be prepared for something different here: The Muralist elevates Shapiro to an even higher plane and is sure to be a crowning touch in an already celebrated career." (Read the review.)
We asked Shapiro to tell us about three books she's been reading lately.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
The Secret History was one of my favorite books, and I was looking forward to Tartt’s latest novel even before I knew what it was about. When I discovered it was about art and forgery and antiques and friendship—and so many other things—I immediately preordered it. I was completely taken from page one and slowed down for the last 100 pages because I didn’t want it to end. After I finished, I was jealous of people who were still reading it. Her writing is exquisite and the story compelling, but for me it was the characters—so complex and distinctive, yet completely believable in their uniqueness—that made it such a fantastic read.
One of the reasons I love to read is because a good book can transport me to worlds I would never experience otherwise. To be inside the head of a poverty-stricken boy trying to survive in the slums of Mumbai, India, is a perfect example of this. And Boo, with her keen journalist’s eye and a novelist’s sense of story and character, did exactly that for me. It is heartbreaking but also strangely uplifting and reads like fiction but is completely fact based—not an easy feat.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
I hardly ever read post-apocalyptic novels and only read this one because it was highly recommended by friends whose literary opinions I respect. Even then I baulked. But I’m so glad I overcame my biases, for this book isn’t just about a virus that kills most of the world, it’s about the strength of the human spirit and the power of art, music and theater to heal. It was also fascinating to be thrown back into a pre-technological era and experience the awe and disbelief alongside the children born “after” at the fact that images were once beamed through the air and that multi-ton objects could fly. It made me appreciate anew the brilliance of the human animal and the fragility of our lives.
See anything you'd like to pick up, readers?
(Author photo by Lynn Wayne)
In The Three-Year Swim Club, Julie Checkoway explores the little-known story of Soichi Sakamoto, a Maui man who taught children to swim in sugar plantation irrigation ditches and turned them into champions. Our reviewer writes, "Checkoway’s compelling narrative reveals the incredible odds Sakamoto and his team faced: meager budgets, exhausting travel via ship, discrimination in mainland pools [. . .] Through it all, he adhered to his vision to use “swimming as a means of teaching . . . children life values." (Read the review.)
We asked Checkoway to tell us about three books she's been reading lately.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Immediately after I finished what I thought was the last draft of The Three-Year Swim Club, I sustained a pretty nasty concussion. In the first days after the accident, I could do little; but within a week or so, I was longing to read. Reading was impossible, though, so I began listening to the audiobook of Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. Processing sound turned out to be just as tiring as reading however, so each day of my recovery, I had to restrict how long I listened, attending to the audio one section at a time.
But I came to so crave hearing the book that I began to listen for a full hour at a time, then a full chapter, stopping to nap in between and waking again to listen to the story. After having written a book of nonfiction, it was freeing to listen to Tartt’s in-depth constructions of the human mind, something that, at least in writing history, is hard to recreate. What was exquisite to me was Tartt’s writing—so much has already been said of her fine, fine voice. I was particularly struck—pun intended—by her depiction of the main character’s shaken consciousness in the wake of the literal and figurative blast that changes his life forever.
The explosion in the museum and the force of the concussion literally reverberated in my head. As he lay still in the blast’s aftermath and then, ears ringing, began to make his way through his altered world through smoke and damage both physical and psychic, I couldn’t help but think how his head injury—untreated throughout the book—affected everything he experienced thereafter. My own world had been altered by my concussion: I lost for a time the ability to walk in a straight line and easily retrieve language. Following the boy on his odyssey, the ruined painting a remnant of the formerly whole and seamless world in his possession, I felt hopeful and less alone: I’d have to wait for language and balance to come back to me, but in the meantime, I had Tartt to guide me through that murky time. I haven’t seen anything written about this aspect of the book—how the concussion is a lens—but it certainly altered my own complex hearing of it.
City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg
Where Tartt’s book is an internalized exploration of the concussed, Garth Risk Hallberg’s City on Fire brilliantly explores the collision of historical and cultural forces in New York City during one of its most explosive decades. I remember the City on fire from my own point of view—my uncle owned a hardware store in Fort Apache, the Bronx, that was torched to the ground and looted in the great conflagration and violence that followed New York’s infamous blackout—but Hallberg’s book made me understand that personal moment in the larger moment of an apocalypse. Hallberg wasn’t in New York at the time in question, but his book bears the imprimatur of exhaustive research that he’s managed to metabolize into something more than history—and gorgeously. Of course, Tom Wolfe came to mind as I began to read, but it was Dickens who stayed with me as I reveled in Hallberg’s encyclopedic and brilliant study of a world on the brink of chaos. I loved the book. Never mind the fact that I myself was so geeky and uncool back then (my musical tastes ran from the pedestrian and pop of Tony Orlando and Dawn to agitprop folk from the 60’s), and Hallberg let me into a world I’d been too dorky to have the courage to enter: punk rock! Hallberg lit the city on fire in his novel, but he also lit a fire under me and sent me out to buy a turntable and some vintage vinyl.
Joppa Dreams (tentative title) by Joan Atchinson
At the moment, I’m finally turning my attention to fulfilling promises I made before I started writing the The Three-Year Swim Club. I believe it’s important for writers to give back to other writers, especially to those who are in the beginnings of their careers. It can be terribly lonely out there when one is just starting—all too well do I remember the gnawing feelings of self-doubt and isolation that accompanied my early writing years. My dearest and most long-standing friend, Joan (nee Koski) Atchinson is at work on a first novel of great ambition and beauty. It’s set in the small New England town in which we grew up together, a run-down port town in our time and before, a factory and mill town peopled by hard-working immigrants. Joan’s book does not remind me of home, but instead transports me into another world: her re-imagining of our home. The noir-ish novel is set largely in the first half of the 20th century, and it is salted with the kinds of characters one finds in an Edith Wharton novel, primarily those in Ethan Frome—those kinds of people who are burdened with some lingering illness or deformity and have a story to tell, a compelling story, one from which it is impossible to turn away. I have great hopes for Joan’s novel, and I hope that I can be of help in getting it out into the world.
(Author photo courtesy of the Salt Lake Tribune)
Yale-grad Jessica Tom makes her debut with the deliciously fun novel Food Whore, in which a young woman begins ghost writing for a New York Times restaurant critic who has lost his sense of taste. Our reviewer writes, "Tom nails the dog-eat-dog restaurant world, whipping up a remarkably entertaining debut." (Read the full review.)
We asked Tom to tell us about three books she's been reading lately.
Asian-American: Proudly Inauthentic Recipes from the Philippines to Brooklyn by Dale Talde
Sage Living by Anne Sage
I’m slightly superstitious (when embarking on a long and often dispiriting journey like publishing a book, you desperately latch onto any positive signs from the universe). This book is like practical feng shui—how you can create a home environment that encourages creativity, calm, positivity (also things that writers desperately need). I work from home, so a photo here and a bouquet of flowers there makes a huge difference.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
I’ve had this book on my TBR list since it came out. Now that I’ve started, I’m hooked. Ng’s writing is haunting and sensual, with surprising turns of phrase that please me as a writer and reader (“loved-baby scent, “impale itself on the shadow”). Every page prickles with suspense. I’d love to write a literary mystery. That’s my favorite genre, neck-and-neck with food books.
Thanks, Jessica! See anything you'd like to pick up, readers?
(Author photo by Liz Clayman)
When Dan Marshall was 25, he left behind his life in California and moved back home to take care of his terminally ill parents. In his memoir, Home Is Burning, Marshall recounts a horrible time in his life with honesty and humor. Our reviewer writes, "Home Is Burning is perhaps the funniest book about dying I’ve ever read . . . [Marshall] takes an unflinching look at how real families fall apart—and pull together—in their own ways." (Read the review).
We asked Marshall to tell us about three books he loves.
Middle Men by Jim Gavin
Sometimes you read a book that feels like it was written specifically for you. That was the case with Middle Men. Maybe it was because most of the stories take place in Los Angeles, where I live, or maybe it was because of the multiple Del Taco references. But I really connected to these stories about different characters somehow stuck in the middle, a sort of real-life purgatory between dream and reality.
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
I’ve always had a fascination with stand-up comedy. It seems to be the most grueling profession to break into. Steve Martin’s book proved that life sucks ass for about 10-to-15 years, no matter how successful you become. I was particularly interested in how many times Martin had to re-invent himself as he struggled to build a career. The book is a great lesson in perseverance and adaptation. I had been meaning to read this book for years. And finally did! So, I, like Steve, showed a lot of determination in achieving my dreams.
This is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz
My brother gave me this book and said that it reminded him of me. I soon realized what he meant, because this is a collection of stories about a character who sucks at love. It’s a beautiful book and proof that most of us fumble around with relationships, even the most significant and important ones. Díaz nails you with so many poetic and hilarious one-liners that you’ll end up doing a lot of underlining and starring as you read, so have a pen handy.
(Author photo by Sharon Suh)
In Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam, an alligator is transported through the early 20th-century South as his owners, an estranged married couple, attempt to take him back to Florida. Our reviewer writes that Carrying Albert Home is "an intentionally improbable, bizarre trip through Southern Americana that is a tall tale blend of fact and fiction." (Read the review).
We asked Hickam to tell us about the books he's read lately, and he says he nearly always has these three books on his desk.
Ballads of Cheechako by Robert Service
When I was a child in the West Virginia coalfields, I was terribly near-sighted, a fact not discovered until I was in the fourth grade. This turned out to be a wonderful thing for my future career as a writer since I couldn't see well enough to play outside with the other kids, so I contented myself with reading anything and everything that resided on my parents' bookshelves. They were both avid readers so I had a lot to choose from, but there was one book that my father kept on the table beside his easy chair. It was this one, leather-bound and worn with age and use, by Robert Service. He had marked his favorite passages inside, but on the last page, he had but one comment and that was "Amen." Since I saw him often reading it, I also sneaked around and read it, too, absorbing Service's colorful language, his deep knowledge of the adventurous men and women of the North, and his masterful ability to tell a good story in rhyme. I keep a copy now on my desk for those days when I need a little inspiration on how to tell a compelling tale or wish to be reminded of my father's love of this great writer.
Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck
This is the companion piece for Steinbeck's better-known novel, Cannery Row. It is a short novel but, unlike its predecessor, has an actual plot. In this case, Doc, who mostly wandered somewhat aimlessly as an observer through the first novel, desperately needs to find someone to love and to love him back. He ends up with Suzy, a prostitute who isn't very good at her trade, and also needs to find someone, and it's clear that it could be just about anyone, who might actually love her back. Steinbeck was someone my parents met in their great adventure that I wrote about in Carrying Albert Home, and they had all of his books, including The Red Pony, which he inscribed to my mother. As a boy, I read them all, but it was Sweet Thursday I liked the best because I was fearful, just like Doc and Suzy, that I might not ever find anyone to love me the way I hoped to be loved. Between writing my books, I often take out especially these two novels by Steinbeck and get myself lost in his sweet prose. Unhappily, however, when I'm writing, I can't read him because I end up writing bad Steinbeck until I can get his style out of my head!
Max Perkins, Editor of Genius by A. Scott Berg
When I got busy in the writing trade, I began to meet a few editors who worked for big New York publishers, and I was always fascinated by how they got to be one of those exalted people. When I expressed that to one of my editors, she laughed and said, "I'm no Max Perkins!" Since I had no idea who he was, I looked him up and found this excellent biography. The next thing I knew I was deep into a marvelous story about the man who guided the careers of Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, Erskine Caldwell and Marjorie Rawlings among other writers, including poor old Tom Wolfe who, without Max, probably would have never been published at all. Berg's book took me into the office of Perkins and sat me down at his desk and let me pretend to also be a big-time New York editor faced with the foibles, foolishnesses and insecurities of even the best writers in the world. Within the book, I also found the best advice ever that Max gave to editors, which also gave me something to think about as a writer: "If you have a Mark Twain, don't try to make him into a Shakespeare or make a Shakespeare into a Mark Twain. Because in the end an editor can get only as much out of an author as the author has in him."
Thank you, Homer!
(Author photo by Linda Terry Hickam)
Emmy Award-winning CNN correspondent Tom Foreman takes on his 18-year-old daughter's challenge of going from a bit of a couch potato to a marathoner in his new book, My Year of Running Dangerously. Our reviewer says, "Anyone who runs, has been inspired by their own child or has tried to accomplish something difficult will find plenty worth pondering in the story of Foreman and his family." (Read the full review here.)
We asked Foreman to tell us about three books he's been reading lately.
Istanbul: Memories and the City by Orhan Pamuk
Orhan Pamuk’s The Museum of Innocence came into my hands by accident, and I was floored by the effortless beauty of his sentences, characters and scenes. Now I am reading Istanbul: Memories and the City, and again I am haunted by the ease with which he can lure me into a life that is utterly foreign to my rural American upbringing, yet feels as familiar as my sofa. I’ve always been a sucker for bleakness and despair, and he seems to find them around every corner in his fabled hometown—echoes of lost grandeur reduced to trinkets in tourist stalls. He makes one of the world’s great cities feel as lonely at times as the Great Plains. I love that. I believe Pamuk will be read far off in the future just as Dickens, Twain, Dostoevsky and Steinbeck are read now; combining a distinctly geographic view with a universal struggle.
Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink by Elvis Costello
I saw Elvis Costello in concert at Atlanta’s Fox Theater back in the 1970s when he was an emerging talent. From the first chords with The Attractions, it was clear his "angry young man" act was but a crashing cymbal; beyond his punk persona his lyrics spoke to a deep love of words, the interplay of relationships and ideas. So I am delighted to be working my way through his new book, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink. I like the stories about the origins of many of my favorite songs (my daughters are named Veronica and Alison,) so all that drama in back of the amps is pure power chords for me. But I like even more the grace notes—the glimpses into his private life and thoughts that go far beyond any traditional rock and rock roll recap. And trust me, as a guitar player who had a band of his own, I’ve read a few of those.
Desperate Journeys, Abandoned Souls: True Stories of Castaways and Other Survivors by Edward E. Leslie
This is a relatively old book. I first read it many years ago, but I always keep it near at hand and I flip through the pages often. While the writing is nice enough, what captivates me is the stories: carefully researched tales of people in all sorts of horrific circumstances dating back hundreds of years. There are pioneers attacked by bears and left for dead; aviators crawling from the wreckage onto snow swept mountains; and lots of people adrift, afloat and abandoned in seas around the world. I don’t know why I like such stories so much, but the ways in which people struggle to survive sometimes against nearly impossible odds is at once poetic and heroic. And the fact that most of them in this book made it (that is, after all, the only reason we know their stories) is downright amazing.
Thanks, Tom! See anything you'd like to pick up, readers?
(Author photo courtesy CNN)
Chris Belden's satirical novel Shriver is about a man who, after being mistaken for the elusive, genius author Shriver, gets swept into the world of narcissistic, pretentious authors and their devoted fans. Our reviewer says, "The wacky cast of characters, inane situations and a whodunit subplot brings to mind the 1980s cult classic movie Clue. At every turn in the satirical story, someone who could unmask our protagonist lurks. . . Shriver’s fear of being outed as an impostor rings true for any writer—wannabe or bona fide—who’s ever doubted their abilities." (Read the full review.)
We asked Belden to tell us about three books he's enjoyed reading lately.
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
I’m in the middle of writing what I call a “neurotic mystery,” and I wanted to go back to the master for a shot of hard-boiled prose. I’m glad I did because I’d forgotten how hilarious Chandler can be. He describes a police official as “a cold-eyed, hatchet-faced man, as lean as a rake and as hard as the manager of a loan office.” Here he is on a two-bit crook: “Hair like steel wool grew far back on his head and gave him a great deal of domed brown forehead that might at a careless glance have seemed a dwelling place for brains.” He’s also great at action: “He shot at me like a plane from a catapult, reaching for my knees in a diving tackle.” But the big lesson I take from Chandler is that the mystery plot is just an excuse to let private eye Philip Marlowe observe and comment, in his unique voice, on humanity’s foibles. Even Chandler wasn’t sure about certain plot points—when director Howard Hawks called to ask who killed off a particular character, Chandler reportedly confessed that he didn’t know.
The Listener by Rachel Basch
I like to write scenes with therapists (see my first novel, Carry-on, as well as my neurotic mystery) so I was especially excited to read The Listener, which is about a shrink who is counseling a male college student who identifies as female. In the wonderful opening scene, an especially anxious new female patient suddenly rips off her wig in the middle of a session and—voila—she’s a he! The rest of the novel toggles back forth between the therapist and the patient, both of whom are learning to deal with life’s unpredictable developments. Maybe because I’ve been in therapy for about a million years, I find this stuff absolutely fascinating. With all that’s going on in the world about transgender issues (Caitlin Jenner, Transparent, etc.), this novel should be making some waves. It should be making waves, anyway, because it’s so beautifully written.
Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner
Lerner’s more recent novel, 10:04, might be even better than this one, but Leaving the Atocha Station was my introduction to his work and thus had a greater impact on me. The whole fiction vs. nonfiction thing is really interesting, and both novels blur the line in a way that excites me as a writer. Leaving the Atocha Station is narrated by an American poet in Spain on a fellowship (Lerner spent time in Spain on a Fulbright Scholarship). The novel is an episodic chronicle of his misadventures there, and includes photographs and cerebral meditations on such topics as the turbulence of Spanish politics and the art of translation. But most of all, the novel is hilarious, never more so than when the poet tells a young woman his perfectly healthy mother is dead, which of course leads to all sorts of complications. The narrator’s struggles with the Spanish language are hysterically rendered, and there’s a long transcript of an instant messaging session that perfectly captures the awkward stop-and-start of this kind of modern communication.
Thank you Chris!
How much is too much when it comes to helping others? Larissa MacFarquhar examines the extremities of altruism in her fascinating book, Strangers Drowning. Our reviewer writes, "New Yorker staff writer Larissa MacFarquhar quite brilliantly focuses on [. . .] individuals she calls “do-gooders” in her thoughtful and wide-ranging Strangers Drowning." (Read the review.)
We asked MacFarquhar to tell us about three books she's been reading lately.
Uncollected Stories by William Faulkner
Thinking about a writing class I’m teaching next year, I’ve been remembering a great gift a writing teacher once gave me. He handed out a story and told us students to critique it. It was dreadful, but we thought it might be by someone in the class, so we hesitated. He assured us it wasn’t, so we shredded it. Afterwards, he said, “That was by William Faulkner, aged 26.” We were astounded, and I’ve always remembered that as proof that there is hope! Now I want to give my students the same gift, so I’m reading through Faulkner’s Uncollected Stories in the hope of finding that inspiringly terrible one, but I haven’t yet. Unfortunately so far they’re all pretty good.
Profiles by Kenneth Tynan
With this same writing syllabus as an excuse, I’m indulging myself by re-reading some of my favorite profiles by Kenneth Tynan, a marvelous English theater critic who died young in 1980. His early writing has a kind of Noel Coward vim to it and is dizzyingly baroque—six adjectives to every noun, it seems, and he never uses one metaphor when three will do. He’s not for everyone, but I find him bracing not only because he’s funny but also because he works so hard: there’s never a lazy, literal description, no sentences that merely get you from A to B, and every phrase is polished till it glitters.
My Struggle: Book Three by Karl Ove Knausgaard
Like a lot of people, I’ve been addicted recently to Knausgaard’s memoirish six-novel series, My Struggle, and now I’m onto the third volume. I admire his harsh, humiliating honesty, and I love the moments of beauty so ecstatic they feel almost unhinged. But I’m also enjoying the books for nonliterary reasons: Knausgaard was born the same year I was, and even though he grew up in rural Norway and I grew up in London, he listened to the same music as a kid, and something about the texture of childhood in the ’70s and ’80s as he describes it feels deeply familiar.
Thank you, Larissa!
In Parnaz Foroutan's debut novel, The Girl from the Garden, an elderly woman ambles through her garden, remembering her youth in Iran at the turn of the 20th century. Our reviewer writes, "Though the reader gets a taste of what the Iranian Jewish community was like, this is really a novel about the culture of women, from the ritual baths and other religious traditions to the gardens and distinctly gendered spaces of the home." (Read the full review.)
We asked Foroutan to tell us about three books she's been reading.
City by Alessandro Baricco
Baricco is a master storyteller, and this book is perhaps the modern day—and more playful version—of Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!. The story is about a young boy who is a child genius, his caretaker and their adventures. Baricco weaves in and out of this boy’s psyche with such ease and grace. He completely ignores the notion that an author has to hold the reader’s hand and walk them gently through the chronological steps of a story in some sort of simplistic manner, and he just dances in and out of time and thought and sequence. Magnificent. A beautiful story; writing that is utterly poetic. A style that is unique, complex, brilliant.
Tinkers by Paul Harding
Another fantastic approach to constructing narrative, Harding writes about the moment before a man’s death and the story of that man’s father’s life as a traveling peddler. The reader shifts between a classic narrative style, which Harding uses to tell the peddler’s story, and a more innovative narrative approach, describing the delusions, memories and dreamscapes of a man on his deathbed. What expert weaving of stories and what courage to tell it, thusly. And I am in utter awe of Harding’s ability to write. There is a passage in the book where Harding describes the wood of a porch, and that description is so vivid, so beautifully wrought, that it moved me to tears. I tell you, if a writer can move you to tears by describing a porch, you know you’ve got the real thing in your hands.
The Gods of Tango by Carolina De Robertis
De Robertis is a brave, brave writer. It is the first time I’ve read a story that explores so courageously the ideas of gender and sexual identity. The book is about a woman in the early parts of the 20th century who immigrates to Argentina and dresses as a man in order to participate as a violinist in the underground world of the tango. De Robertis is a powerful storyteller, and this topic is so timely. I can see this author blazing a trail, so to speak, and opening the sanctimonious Canon of American Literature to these historically silenced voices.
Thank you, Parnaz! See anything you'd like to pick up, readers?
(Author photo by Debbie Formoso)
After a health scare, Alex Sheshunoff decided that it was time for a radical change. So he left his old life behind and set out in search of true paradise, a search he recounts in A Beginner’s Guide to Paradise. Our reviewer writes, "A Beginner’s Guide to Paradise is extraordinarily entertaining, one part guidebook to two parts love story. This heartfelt account reveals what can happen when you leave everything behind—and find more than you ever hoped for." (Read the review.)
We asked Sheshunoff to tell us about three books he's enjoyed reading lately.
Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradel
I loved this book. Funny and spare and character driven, this lovely debut novel made me appreciate everything from the culture of food (of the Midwest, even) to the unreliable assessments we make of those closest to us (our parents, even). Most of all, though, I was struck by Stradel’s writing. His similes—or is it metaphors?—stayed with me long after I’d finished the book. Among my favorites: “Cousin Randy was an untouchable demigod—an angel’s wing broken from an ancient statue, sent here to help her hover above all things insipid and heartbreaking.” Most aren’t nearly as heavy. For example: “He […] went on dates about as often as a vegetarian restaurant opened near an interstate highway.”
I haven’t seen the movie, but I do find myself often rereading this hilarious book about hiking the Appalachian Trail. Bryson was a British copy editor for years before writing his first book, and it shows in his control of the language. For example, describing a bunk bed in a hostel along the trail, he looks up and writes, “If the mattress stains were anything to go by, a previous user had not so much suffered from incontinence as rejoiced in it.” Funny stuff. At least to me.
Ants by E.O. Wilson and Bert Holldobler
My 8-year-old and I are slowly making our way through this seven-pound, 732-page book about, well, ants. It’s been really fun for him (and me) to go beyond volcanoes and dinosaurs and see just how deep and rich science can be. Who knew, for example, that monogamous ants have 75 percent female offspring whereas polygamous ants have almost 75 percent male offspring? I didn’t. Oh sure, you’re probably thinking, A 500 page book about ants, that’d be reasonable, but do you really need those extra 232 pages? The short answer? Yes! Otherwise, you’d miss the 63-page bibliography. And that colonies of Eciton burchelli, an army ant found on an island in Panama, migrate between bushes by constructing thick chains of ants—formed by the interlocking of mandibles—that subsequent ants use for transportation. OK, Ants could probably still honor its incredible subject with a few fewer pages, but not many!