Wells Tower exploded onto the literary scene with his 2010 short story publication Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned that featured mundane domestic trivialities set in unusual locations and time periods. Most notably, he had a great group of Vikings sitting around, bitching about having to go plundering again, not terribly different than dudes today griping about a pain in the ass boss.
So it was a treat to see Tower apply his unique eye and language skill to a travel piece about Hawaii for the New York Times.
While he doesn’t encounter any Vikings pillaging the island, Tower is brave enough to haul his 19-month-old son along on the trip. That’s courage, my friends. I lived in Hawaii for a couple of years, commuting between Washington DC and Honolulu and I wouldn’t wish that flight on any youngun.
I would have liked to see Tower examine the islands’ cultural and literary history (or lack thereof) a bit more in his article. Although there is a rich, deep history of storytelling in the islands, I found the literary scene to be a bit lacking. There isn’t a great deal of contemporary fiction coming out of Hawaii, with the notable exception of Kauai Hart Hemmings, who I interviewed a number of years ago. Of course, the novel Moloka’i got a good deal of attention. If anyone knows any good fiction from the islands, please do let me know as I am interested in reading more. Nonfiction is a different story, with a number of good books and histories of Hawaii filling bookstore shelves.
But no Vikings.