Wells Tower

This Wells Tower essay about traveling in Iceland and Greenland with his father and brother is one of the best things you will read this week (and beyond). Also, consider voting for American Short Fiction’s SXSW Interactive panel.

Win Wells Tower’s Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned

The fine folks at Macmillan have provided us with three copies of Wells Tower’s much talked about collection Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned to give away to readers. (Check out an excerpt at the link)

To enter, comment with answers to any of the following: What’s the best fire you ever saw? Best tower you ever saw? Best thing you ever burned?

Two winners will be selected for their elaboration, one will be selected at random. Entries end tomorrow evening.

Contests / 93 Comments
March 23rd, 2010 / 12:10 pm

Reviews & Web Hype

Let’s See What Some Stuff’s About

The Scott Timberg io9 piece I mentioned the other day is live now. “Welcome to the Soft Apocalypse.”

At TNRBook, Sophia Lear is unimpressed by Sheila Kohler’s Becoming Jane Eyre. Also, reprinted classics by George Orwell and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Two things I pinched from Bookslut– “The Poetics of Amateur Products Reviews” and Margaret Drabble introduces you to William Wordsworth. And why the heck not?

Okay, NYTea time- Tom Carson really likes Just Kids, Patti Smith’s memoir of Robert Mapplethorpe. I’ve heard amazing things about it as well–out in “the streets”. Wells Tower is pretty ambivalent about the new T.C. Boyle. Antonya Nelson calls Robert Stone’s Fun With Problems “a book for grown-ups,” which is a concept I both do and do not understand; both am and am not vaguely attracted to. Has anyone out there ever read any Stone? Also, obituaries. Charles McGrath on Salinger and Michael Powell on Zinn. A blog I’d never heard of (before Paper Cuts linked to it) called “Classics Rock: Books Shelved in Songs” has playlists of songs that reference the works of each man (Zinn, Salinger). But the Farah Fawcett Memorial Overshadowed Death of the Week (literature edition) has absolutely got to go to poor Louis Auchincloss, who wrote over 60 books over 50 years, mostly while also still practicing law, and who, at 92, had a year on Salinger and four on Zinn.

Finally, a question. For three days now I’ve left Emerson’s Divinity School Address in an open tab on my browser. Will today be the day I print it out and actually read it? (That’s really two questions.)

January 30th, 2010 / 11:54 am

Barry Hannah’s Long Shadow – by Wells Tower

Big giant kudos to Kevin Sampsell for this one. I think I saw it once a while back, but it must have been before I knew who Wells Tower is, and also perhaps before my Hannah-love had reached its present feverpitch. In any case, I’d forgotten about this profile of Hannah that Tower wrote for Garden & Gun magazine, until Kevin posted it on facebook the other day. Good, good man. Also, when you click through, the article isn’t as long as it looks. (Would that it were longer!) The last few screens are Hannah’s short story, “Water Liars.”

Barry Hannah’s fame is of a peculiar kind. Ask people about him, and either they’ll say they’ve never heard the name (despite his nominations for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize) or they’ll get a feverish, ecstatic look before they seize you by the lapels and start reeling off cherished passages of his work. Echoes of familiar Southern tropes appear in Hannah’s novels and short stories: outlandish violence, catfish, desperate souls driven half mad by lust and drink. But in Hannah’s fiction the South becomes an alien place, narrated in a dark comic poetry you’ve never heard before, peopled with characters that outflank and outwit the flyspecked conventions of Southern lit. A Civil War scribe whose limbs—save his writing arm—are shot off. A serial killer who looks like Conway Twitty and makes his victim suck a football (“moan around on it some”) before beheading him. A Wild West widow who lashes a personal ad to a buzzard in hopes of finding a man. In Hannah’s panoramas, you’ll find hints of William Faulkner, rumbles of Charles Bukowski, and the tongue-in-cheek grotesquerie of David Lynch. But the fierce inventiveness of Hannah’s prose makes him something sui generis entirely, a writer who renders the project of comparison a farce.

Author Spotlight / 25 Comments
May 2nd, 2009 / 9:54 am

‘A story about reluctant vikings’

viking-helmetsWells Tower reads “Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned” for The Guardian Books Podcast thingy they have going on at their thing.

(via Anthony Luebbert’s twitter thingy)

Author News / 31 Comments
April 10th, 2009 / 1:55 pm

Wells Tower

Next March, Wells Tower will publish a book of short stories wuth FSG. So I will talk about Wells Tower now before it is too late.

I really like Wells Tower. I have come across maybe four short stories by Tower in the last five years. Fence. McSweeeney’s. A Public Space. This. His work seems to be leaking out very slowly.

Whenever a new New Yorker comes out, I open it up and check halway down the table of contents to see who wrote the story in the issue. Often it is Alice Munro. Quite often, really.

When that happens, I am just a little let down. Not because I dislike Alice Munro. Alice Munro is fine. Good, in fact. I eventually get around to reading the Alice Munro story, and often enjoy it. And now and again, I really enjoy it.

Sometimes it Yiyun Li, and that’s fine as well. Or Roddy Doyle. Or William Trevor. Or Stuart Dybek.

Lovely, one and all. But still, my heart sinks just a little.

This is why: I like short fiction because I like reading a lot of different people over shorter periods of time. I want more voices.

But, hell. Who am I to tell The New Yorker how to pick their fiction.

Hey! Last issue, Wells Tower. Go read it. Great stuff. (And then find “Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned.” It’s in that Ben Marcus Anchor Anthology.)

Here’s something to admire about the story: he manages the second person (a narrator who refers to “you” instead of “I” or “he”). A lot of people fuck that narrator up because they figure “you” means “you” instead of “you” means “me trying not to talk about me by pretending to talk about you.”

Author Spotlight / 26 Comments
November 10th, 2008 / 6:20 pm