Viking marauders descend on a much-plundered island, hoping some mayhem will shake off the winter blahs. A man is booted out of his home after his wife discovers that the print of a bare foot on the inside of his windshield doesnt match her own. Teenage cousins, drugged by summer, meet with a reckoning in the woods. A boy runs off to the carnival after his stepfather bites him in a brawl.
In the stories of Wells Tower, families fall apart and messily try to reassemble themselves. His version of America is touched with the seamy splendor of the dropout, the misfit: failed inventors, boozy dreamers, hapless fathers, wayward sons. Combining electric prose with savage wit, Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned is a major debut, announcing a voice we have not heard before.
Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned
Just as we were all getting back into the mainland domestic groove, somebody started in with dragons and crop blights from across the North Sea. We all knew who it was. A turncoat Norwegian monk named Naddod had been big medicine on the dragon-and-blight circuit for the last decade or so, and was known to bring heavy ordnance for whoever could lay out some silver. Scuttlebutt had it that Naddod was operating out of a monastery on Lindisfarne, whose people wed troubled on a pillage-and-consternation tour through Northumbria after Corn Harvesting Month last fall. Now bitter winds were screaming in from the west, searing the land and ripping the grass from the soil. Salmon were turning up spattered with sores, and grasshoppers clung to the wheat in rapacious buzzing bunches.
I tried to put these things out of my mind. Wed been away three long months harrying the Hibernian shores, and now I was back with Pila, my common-law, and ...
Although Tower writes with the specificity and razor-sharp observations of a poet, his metaphors go down easy, coated in the sugar of a writer at ease with his craft... Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned makes me hunger for Tower's first novel.
(Reviewed by Lucia Silva).
Full Review (1214 words).
About the Author
Wells Towers short stories and journalism have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, McSweeney's, The Paris Review, The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, The Washington Post Magazine, and elsewhere. He received two Pushcart Prizes and the Plimpton Prize from The Paris Review.
According to The New York Observer, "Brown Coast", the opening story of Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned is the first short story Wells Tower wrote during his first year in the Columbia fiction program, which he joined in the fall of 2000. It was published in the spring 2002 issue of The Paris Review after someone there discovered it in the slush pile. "Down Through the Valley," another story from ...
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