Summary and book reviews of Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower

Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned

Stories

By Wells Tower

Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned
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  • Hardcover: Mar 2009,
    256 pages.
    Paperback: Feb 2010,
    256 pages.

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Book Summary

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 doesn’t 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 we’d 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. We’d been away three long months harrying the Hibernian shores, and now I was back with Pila, my common-law, and ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

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).

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Media Reviews
Author Blurb Michael Chabon, author of The Yiddish Policemen’s Union and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.
Wells Tower's stories are written, thrillingly, in authentic American vernacular—violent, funny, bleak, and beautiful. You need to read them, now.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Tower's uncommon mastery of tone and wide-ranging sympathy creates a fine tension between wry humor and the primal rage that seethes just below the surface of each of his characters.

Libary Journal

Tower has crafted a powerful and assured debut collection. Highly recommended for all public libraries.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. The title barely hints at the scorched-earth, take-no-prisoners power of the stories.

Esquire - Benjamin Alsup

[Offers] us a picture of the America we actually live in .... The stories in this new fiction collection by Wells Tower are set mostly in the places we do not wish to vacation in, but where many of us live. These are grim suburbs.

New York Magazine - Sam Anderson

His fictional universe is a perfectly balanced little biosphere of violence and mercy, aggression and nurturing. ... And yet, somehow, the book is not cripplingly depressing. Tower’s voice is too consistently artful and funny and empathetic.

New York Times - Edmund White

Every one of the stories ... is polished and distinctive. ... His range is wide and his language impeccable, never strained or fussy. His grasp of human psychology is fresh and un-Freudianizing.

Los Angeles Times - Jim Ruland

It's hard to imagine anyone, much less a literary-minded fellow, paying such loving attention to coastal Florida, but the details are conjured up so thoroughly one can almost hear the skinks scurrying for cover in the understory.

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Beyond the Book

About the Author
Wells Tower’s 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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