Originally Posted by California Dreamer Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned
certainly lives up to its title.
I read this recently. Loved it. Probably didn't write much of a review, but it stood out as one of the best collections of US short fiction of the last decade. More than the writing (quite deft and delicious), it had that certain bumblebee flies anyway
kind of appeal, in which it hit all the same notes people like to demonize in snoozy contemporary fiction, but it performed them so well, it managed to be both absorbing and, frankly, laudable. (And it was lauded, too, I think. This dude cleaned house during awards season).
It's interesting we were both drawn towards the one about the fair -- though I think I ID'd the pleasantry as more the result of a general structure issue rather than back story, there was more back story, which I liked, and it's....neat....that that....struck a chord. It appealed to me as well. I don't think the others lacked anything for being more in the moment because, as you said, that's usually absent from short fiction, anyway. What stood out to me was just how well Tower was able to nail these guys in the present in a capable way that didn't feel he was telecasting his techniques, building character
, and so forth. I think the humor -- I did find a lot of the dialogue fresh and funny -- helped out here as well. I felt everything -- esp. the dialogue -- really pulled triple duty in a very engaging way.
Originally Posted by California Dreamer
The eponymous story ...about some Viking raiders setting out on a voyage to pillage Lindisfarne. It’s an interesting idea for a story, and I was getting quite engaged until Tower fatally marred it with risible anachronisms like “gung-ho motherf***er” and “hassle”. There’s no excuse for horrible writing like that, and both Tower and his editors should hang their collective heads in shame.
No, sir! NO! I must respectfully disagree.
You didn't like it, I won't argue that (I thought it was great), BUT calling the anachronisms a misstep, or shaming his editors is in fact a grave mistake!
It was all present from the beginning! It seems to me that the tension between a historical tale and its modern-day idiom is the whole point, the whole texture, and without it, you couldn't even tell the story. It wouldn't make sense, I don't think, as the even the concepts (relationships, etc) are modern as well.
But yeah. The beginning lays out exactly what to expect. It's all there in the first two paragraphs: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 thinking that home was very close to paradise in these endless summer days. We’d built our house together, Pila and me. It was a fine little wattleand- daub cabin on a pretty bit of plain where a wide blue fjord stabbed into the land. On summer evenings my young wife and I would sit out front, high on potato wine, and watch the sun stitch its orange skirt across the horizon. At times such as these, you get a good, humble feeling, like the gods made this place, this moment, first and concocted you as an afterthought just to be there to enjoy it.READ THE FULL STORY (I THINK): http://us.macmillan.com/BookCustomPage_New.aspx?isbn=9780312429294
Sorry to interject. I just found this collection to be so much better than others. Go, Wells Tower. You go, grrrrrl!
(clockwise, did you just read five books in two days?