Lorraine, May 7, 2009 (view all comments by Lorraine)
These nine, superbly written stories pack a wallop, a mix of human struggle with sprinklings of humor that capture the human experience. The voices are varied, attesting to Tower's talent. In this amazing collection, the reader encounters Bob as he struggles with his ruined life in the story "The Brown Coast", which could have been entitled "Man as Sea Cucumber". Next is sibling rivalry gone to extremes in "Retreat". Then there's the elderly Albert watching his interesting neighbor's house in "Door in Your Eye", and the gawky teenager Jacey whiling away a summer day, in "Wild America". The title story is a unique Viking tale. Sometimes I find contemporary short stories less than satisfying, but this collection restores my faith in the genre.
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Yonathan, March 5, 2009 (view all comments by Yonathan)
I learned of Wells Tower through his short story "Leopard," which left such an immediate impact on me that I procured an advance copy of Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned. Each tale in this collection reaffirmed his mastery of the short story. His characters have refreshingly realistic depth and each story feels whole and original. Despite the fact that the eponymous story centers on a band of Vikings, the book is distinctly American. Tower trains his keen eye on the modern American condition, in all its unprepossessing glory. His uncommon talent lies in his ability to depict beauty and melancholy, two inextricable elements, so piercingly. His prose is magnificent as well; the first couple of paragraphs of the title story - an irradiant exercise in both physical and emotional brutality - are a marvel.
If you are a living human you should read this book.
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"Review A Day"
by Deborah Eisenberg, New York Review of Books,
"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." (read the entire New York review of Books)
by Ben Marcus, author of Notable American Women and The Age of Wire and String,
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.
by Benjamin Alsup, Esquire,
"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."
by Publishers Weekly,
"[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." (starred review and Pick of the Week)
by Kirkus Reviews,
"The title barely hints at the scorched-earth, take-no-prisoners power of the stories." (starred review)
by Kevin Clouther, Booklist,
"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."
by Lawrence Rungren, Library Journal,
"Outstanding...Tower has crafted a powerful and assured debut collection."
"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
by Benjamin Kunkel, author of Indecision,
"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."
“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.
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