“I got an understanding of how terrible love can be,” writes Wells Tower in the title story of Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned. “You wish you hated those people, your wife and children, because you know the things the world will do to them, because you have done some of those things yourself.” The unsettling truth of this insight dazzles all the more for having been made by a Norse Viking after a journey of sacking and pillaging that is part Monty Python sketch, part Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” and all a succinct window into the tragicomic lunacy that has led to Wells Tower’s emergence as one of America’s most daring and promising writers. In addition to his acclaimed short fiction, Tower has cultivated a body of off-beat, new-journalistic magazine pieces. For Outside, he paddled Florida’s Wekiva River in a tire tube. For Harper’s, he infiltrated the George W. Bush re-election campaign. For The Washington Post Magazine, he took a job with a carnival. Tower’s most recent work includes a series of satirical short-short stories written for celebrated and controversial painter John Currin’s new book.