This book has been out a while, but I don’t care. I must share. This book is I can’t believe he wrote that oh my god…cackle, cackle, cackle good. I wanted people to hear me reading this. And then I wanted to hide behind the pages hording the secret like kids with Halloween candy.
Wells Tower, while height unknown but name pleasantly tall, writes like a giant articulate prankster in his debut collection of short stories Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned. The inside of his brain might potentially look like Being John Malkovich having a tea party with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lorenzo Lamas’ character Soldier from the 80s Snake Eater and the entire cast from Lone Wolf McQuade. Yeah, odd…like it might all work together if you have the right type of glue. Well, in my opinion, Tower sticks it.
Here, take a quick peek:
“By the window, a woman was sitting in a recliner reading a magazine and sucking on a cigarette. She was pretty, but she’d spent too much time in the sun. She was pruned over and nearly maroon, like a turkey beard.”
“Good morning. You have not slept well. Don’t open your eyes. Stick out your tongue. Search for the little sore on your upper lip. Pray that it healed in the night. No luck. Still there…it tastes better than it looks. A tiny hamburger is what the fungus resembles…”
Frustrating and painful perhaps? Well, welcome to the hard life.
Characters with names like Derrick Treat, cocktails capable of “Polack Holidays,” the idea of filling an aquarium with actual fish from the ocean, Barry the meditation instructor, a kid who fakes a seizure face down on a gravel driveway for 15 minutes just to get sympathy, moose hunting, joint smoking retirees and a girl who sucks on the stick shift to calm her nerves. The misfits and oddities of America in their entire splendor. It may not make sense now, but read it and smirk with uncomfortable joy.
What I like so much about these short stories is that I see these stories all the time. Those interactions you wander into or witness that you, yourself just never believe. For me it’s the guy in St. Louis who worked in the vinyl factory and the woman on the flight to Hong Kong who ended up taking me to a Chinese pyramid scheme to sell beauty products on the mainland. Screwy experiences that have you wondering if this is your life. The universe gives us artful and funny stories to discover time and time again. Thanks Wells Towers for bringing us yours.
Well just because I can…here’s some commentary from the great classics in American film mentioned earlier:
SneakEater (circa 1989). They make a watercraft out of a Harley. A teenaged Kelly McGillis is trapped by in-breds and sister-wives. Soldier must get to her before they do.
Lone Wolf McQuade was a 1983 precursor to Walker Texas Ranger. When a ruthless gun smuggling ring threatens his family and friends he leaves his badge behind to wage a personal war against his enemies.