‘The Old Man at Burning Man’ by Wells Tower

I’m not going to lie and pretend that the premise for this isn’t a bit of a cliché – the father/son bonding experience of taking a trip together. Except this is at Burning Man and is in turns very funny and very weird and surprising and entertaining and written in Tower’s cool, laconic prose which gained him such attention for his wonderful first collection of stories Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned. It’s also a story about being embarrassed by one’s parents, and describes his singular, peculiar childhood with great tenderness. 

First published in GQ, February 2013, and available to read online here

‘Wild America’ by Wells Tower

When is Wells Tower’s next book coming out? Is what those of us who love his collection, Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, have been asking for ten years. No pressure, Wells. But get on with it. His work is wildly funny, stylistically wide-ranging, and full of painful truths. I’m picking this story over other possibles in the book because of its opening description of a baby pigeon, mauled and dropped by a cat onto a pillowcase: “The thing was pink, nearly translucent, with magenta cheeks and lavender ovals around the eyes. It looked like a half-cooked eraser with dreams of some day becoming a prostitute.”

From the collection Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, FSG/Granta, 2009. Most of the story is at online here but it seems to cut off about a page and a half from the end…