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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 dark and bitingly humorous collection of short stories from the "brilliantly evocative" Paul Theroux (Time)
From the author who penned The Wake of Forgiveness, ten remarkable stories that tackle what it means to be a man.
For fans of George Saunders and Raymond Carver, this powerful, imaginative story collection takes readers on a journey from the afterlife to contemporary times to the early days of Mormonism—a stunning debut by an acclaimed McSweeneys and Tin House contributor.
A debut novel that is a brilliant exploration of a close, complicated family and the struggle between brotherhood and becoming an individual
An exquisite, blistering debut novel Three brothers tear their way through childhood— smashing tomatoes all over each other, building kites from trash, hiding out when their parents do battle, tiptoeing around the house as their mother sleeps off her graveyard shift. Paps and Ma are from Brooklyn—hes Puerto Rican, shes white—and their love is a serious, dangerous thing that makes and unmakes a family many times. Life in this family is fierce and absorbing, full of chaos and heartbreak and the euphoria of belonging completely to one another. From the intense familial unity felt by a child to the profound alienation he endures as he begins to see the world, this beautiful novel reinvents the coming-of-age story in a way that is sly and punch-in-the-stomach powerful. Written in magical language with unforgettable images, this is a stunning exploration of the viscerally charged landscape of growing up, how deeply we are formed by our earliest bonds, and how we are ultimately propelled at escape velocity toward our futures.
Winner of the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction
Shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing
Named "Outstanding 2014 Collection" by The Story Prize
Pushcart Prize WinnerIn this stunning debut, Shawn Vestal transports us to the afterlife, the rugged Northwest, and the early days of Mormonism. From “The First Several Hundred Years Following My Death,” an absurd, profound vision of a hellish heaven, to “Winter Elders,” in which missionaries calmly and relentlessly pursue a man who has left the fold, these nine stories illuminate the articles of faith that make us human.
The concluding triptych tackles the legends and legacy of Mormonism head-on, culminating in “Diviner,” a seriocomic portrait of the young Joseph Smith, back when he was not yet the founder of a religion but a man hired to find buried treasure. Godforsaken Idaho is an indelible collection by the writer you need to read next.Godforsaken Idaho named 'Outstanding 2013 Short Story Collections' by The Story Prize
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.
Table of Contents
Minor Watt 1
Mr. Bones 35
Our Raccoon Year 59
Mrs. Everest 76
Another Necklace 97
Incident in the Oriente 110
Rip It Up 118
Siamese Nights 143
Nowadays the Dead Dont Die 193
Autostop Summer 197
Voices of Love 215
The Furies 232
Long Story Short 269
Neighbor Islands 293
The Travelers Wife 305
The First World 313
Im the Meat, Youre the Knife 342
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