Wells Tower has a great writing style. His abstract approach allows him to examine the complexities of relationships. His world is filled with strong, independent women who have endured more stress and problems than they could ever imagine. These themes are particularly evident in his short story, “Everything Ravaged and Everything Burned”, which describes the life of a Viking nation, which lives to devastate other nations.
The story of “Everything Ravaged and Everything Burned” is told through Harald’s eyes. He is also the narrator. Harald describes how their people have been plagued by crop-blights. Harald then says that Naddod, a Norwegian monk, is responsible for these natural events. Harald doesn’t want to leave his wife but after much thought Harald agrees with the Vikings and goes to Naddod island to kill him. Their clan seems to have had a lot of problems with their wives. Djarf, the “fool of warfare” and the boss on their ship, doesn’t have any problem leaving his wife. And she doesn’t seem too care. Harald’s friend Gnut is another example. Djarf is the first to be exposed to this. We learn about his history and how he got there. Djarf cuts Naddod’s stomach almost immediately and then leaves him dead on the ground. Gnut looks at Harald, and says, “Oh, Lord! He doing a blood-eagle?” I replied. Djarf then proceeds to rip his lungs out and cut his back while he is still alive. This is all perfectly normal and everyone seems to enjoy it. Djarf also tells the kids to listen up, and he teaches them the “blood-eagle”.
Synthesis/ResearchWells Tower is an award winning author who debuted his career in 2009 with the release of his collection of short stories called “Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned”. Tower’s interests in sociology/anthropology were combined with his M.F.A. Colombia University “Make his fiction seem like case studies taken out of an ongoing study in relationships” (Schiffman). His writing style is characterized by hard drinking, cheating and fighting. Sam Anderson on Tower says that Anderson is “a connoisseur for violence” and his stories in “Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned” reflect the harsh, yet often shocking, realities of modern life. This book is filled with everything from Viking warriors and jealous teenage girls. Schiffman says that all stories contain a strong sense if yearning. It is yearning for more, for something lost or for something impossible to find.
His title story is a departure from the others that loosely depict contemporary Americans. This story is very unique and bizarre. Instead than a young man in despair or a man with a broken heart, it is a story about a group of Vikings who attempt to take over an island. It is difficult to understand why the author included the title story. Or, why is that story solely about Vikings and not about a modern America? Tower said that the Viking story has a lot violence, but it was a kind of burlesque when he was asked this question by Michael Carroll. It was just an exaggeration of Vikings. He was only trying to counter the current-day view of Vikings. He may have included the Viking story to increase interest. It is possible that he was trying to distract from the boring times in America. Noting that people today are naturally drawn to stories about Vikings and stories of violence from the past, it is also important to note that modern-day stories can be just as interesting. There are many movies and television shows that tell stories about the Renaissance Era. The most popular is Game of Thrones, a fantasy/scifi TV show that depicts a world filled with Viking-like people and barbarians. The strangest thing about this story is that the Viking-age barbaric people use the same middle-class American dialect, which is not much different from our everyday speech. Tower’s syntax and his use colloquialism make this story easy to read while still giving incredible detail. Tower’s writing style is very flexible and allows him to use a variety of voices. He can write about young girls and boys, about old men, elderly people, and even about pedophiles.
Tower’s book, with the exception of one story, depicts a modern America with normal problems. Tower takes these issues and presents a larger, often darker, problem. A story in his book “On The Show” shows a young boy hiding from a bully. He is then “Found By a Monster Worse Than Anything in the Haunted Home.” (Barr), and his father doesn’t believe him. This theme is reversed in Vikings, where the problems of the Vikings are more complex, including bad weather, poor crop yields, pillaging gone terribly, and a friend getting stabbed, killing, and stabbing a child. Despite being Vikings, their problems are still the same as the protagonists of other stories. It would be odd if one story didn’t reflect the current America. This is the central theme of all stories. The Viking story might be an exaggerated, looser representation of America. Benjamin Alsup’s unique perspective is that “the America depicted there is jittery & exhausted.” Nobody can solve the crime. Everyone gets away with it. They just get by. They get drunk, become sad, and eventually go bankrupt. They live like Americans.” This quote shows that the Vikings are not that much different from America, and that they can be quite similar in certain ways.
Larger conclusionsThe title story from “Everything Ravaged. Everything Burned”, which is widely discussed, doesn’t correspond to the central theme of the rest of the stories. Tower’s other eight stories are set today in America. Many of the characters have to deal with everyday problems. Some also have a darker undertone. The Viking story is a bit ‘out there’ and seems a little random. This makes it difficult to understand why Tower chose that story as the title story. The Viking story can be viewed as a loose representation of America. Many of the problems facing the Viking clan are familiar to modern America, including familial difficulties. The story features almost every male character having problems with their wives or girlfriends. Benjamin Alsup said that they often get drunk and become sad. They also perform strange acts of kindness and invade small countries without any good reason. They live the same way as Americans.