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Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned: Storiesby Wells Tower
"The phrase 'well-crafted' suggests an unfortunate analogy between a piece of fiction and a piece of furniture. And there is a surprising amount of fiction around that is reasonably accomplished and graceful, or strikingly ornamented, or that skillfully reproduces previous successes in structure or tone and yet feels synthetic and inert — made up, in short, rather than like something that has been transcribed from a revelatory vision." Deborah Eisenberg, New York Review of Books (read the entire New York review of Books)
Synopses & Reviews
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.
Wells Tower is a blindingly brilliant writer who does more than raise the bar for debut fiction: he hurls it into space. With the oversized heart of George Saunders, the demon tongue of Barry Hannah, and his very own conjuring tools that cannot here be named, Tower writes stories of aching beauty that are as crushingly funny and sad as any on the planet. Ben Marcus, author of Notable American Women and The Age of Wire and String
"We need books like Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned...What [Towers] portraits lack in grandeur, they compensate for in their accuracy...[The characters] live the way we Americans do." Benjamin Alsup, Esquire
"[An] outstanding debut collection...The strange and magnificent title story, in which Vikings set off again toward an oft-raided island, beautifully ties the collection together in its heartbreaking final paragraph. Towers 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." Publishers Weekly (starred review and Pick of the Week)
"The title barely hints at the scorched-earth, take-no-prisoners power of the stories." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Towers debut story collection confirms what readers of Harpers, McSweeneys, The Paris Review, and other major publications have known for some time: Tower is a serious talent...Towers voice is honest and strange, humorous and insightful." Kevin Clouther, Booklist
"Outstanding...Tower has crafted a powerful and assured debut collection." Lawrence Rungren, Library Journal
"Wells Towers' stories are written, thrillingly, in authentic American vernacularviolent, funny, bleak, and beautiful. You need to read them, now." Michael Chabon, author of The Yiddish Policemens Union and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
"These are lurid, ingenious, beautiful, delicate, and very funny stories. Full of pity and terror, they are also great fun to read. Wells Tower has written a brilliant book." Benjamin Kunkel, author of Indecision
“This arresting debut collection of stories decisively establishes Mr. Tower as a writer of uncommon talent.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITORS' CHOICE
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 car's 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. Wells Tower's version of America is touched with the seamy splendor of the dropout, the misfit: failed inventors, boozy dreamers, hapless fathers, wayward sons. With electric prose and savage wit, Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned is a profound new collection of stories.
From the author ofThe Wake of Forgiveness "a mesmerizing, mythic saga"*ten remarkable stories that tackle what it means to be a man Whether they find themselves walking the fertile farmland of south Texas, steering trucks through the suffocating sprawl of Houston, or turning logs into loose leaf in the mills just west of the Sabine River, the men of these stories find themselves beset by the insufficiencies of their own ingrained ideas of manhood. Like Richard Russo, Bruce Machart has a profound knowledge of the male psyche and a gift for conveying the absurdity and brutality of daily life with humor and compassion. Alternately lush with lyricism and starkly candid, these stories emerge from inside a vividly scrutinized everyday of farms, refineries, hospitals, and homes to explore what it means to be a man at the rise of a new millennium. What it means to be a man who cant protect his wife from violence, or protect his children from tragic accidents, or protect himself from loss and heartbreak. Macharts characters have a deep and abiding humanity that makes their hardscrabble lives all the more unforgettable.
* New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Wells Tower's writing has appeared in Harper's Magazine, McSweeney's, The Paris Review, The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, and elsewhere. He received a Pushcart Prize and the Plimpton Discovery Prize from The Paris Review. He lives in North Carolina.
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