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Vikings

•→http://www.history.com/shows/vikings

The TV series, written and created by Michael Hirst for the television channel History, is set at the beginning of the Viking Age, marked by the Lindisfarne raid in 793.

The first season portrays Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) as a young Viking warrior who longs to discover civilizations across the seas. With his friend, the gifted craftsman Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård), he builds a new generation of faster longships and challenges the local ruler, Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne), a man of little vision, to allow raids into unexplored North East England. He is supported by his brother Rollo (Clive Standen), who secretly covets Ragnar’s wife, the shieldmaiden Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick). Ragnar succeeds in carrying out the first Viking raids into the English kingdom of Northumbria, returning with rich loot and the monk Athelstan (George Blagden) as a slave. This not only earns him the enmity of King Aelle (Ivan Kaye), but triggers a series of increasingly violent confrontations at home with the autocratic Earl, ending with Ragnar killing and succeeding him.

Ragnar pledges fealty to King Horik (Donal Logue) and represents him in negotiations about a land dispute with Earl Borg from Götaland (Thorbjørn Harr), in the course of which he is seduced by the princess Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland).

yes21

Modern English contains more than 800 words that come from Norse. Yet only about 25 of these words were assimilated into Anglo-Saxon during the so-called ‘Old-English’ period (450-1066). This is rather surprising given that it was during this period when the Danes, and to a lesser extent the Norwegians, colonized England. How was it possible for hundred of words to hide for centuries only to appear in ‘Middle English’ three centuries later when nobody was speaking Norse in England?

Here’s a list of 75 words from Norse to illustrate what we are talking about:

again

amaze

anger

awkward

bag

band

bang

bank

birth

both

box

bread

bull

cake

call

cast

clip

club

clumsy

crawl

cunning

cut

die

dirty

egg

fast

fellow

flat

fog

freckles

from

gap

gasp

guess

happy

hit

husband

ill

kid

knife

law

leg

lift

loan

loose

low

muggy

neck

outlaw

odd

race

rag

raise

rid

root

rotten

ruthless

same

seat

seem

sister

smile

steak

take

though

Thursday

tight

trust

ugly

until

want

weak

window

wrong

¤  Wells Tower:  Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned

Wells Tower is the author of the short story collection Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned. His short stories and journalism have appeared in The New YorkerHarper’s MagazineMcSweeney’sThe Paris ReviewThe Anchor Book of New American Short StoriesThe Washington Post Magazine, and elsewhere. He received two Pushcart Prizes and the Plimpton Prize from The Paris Review. He divides his time between Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Brooklyn, New York.

 ◊   Listen to W. Tower read the story →

 Watch animator Chris Roth’s short adaptation of Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned – the title story of Wells Towers’ highly anticipated debut story collection ↓

Viking marauders descend on a much-plundered island, ↑ hoping some mayhem will shake off the winter blahs

Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned

Just as we were all getting back into the mainland domestic groove, somebody started in with dragons and crop blights from across the North Sea. We all knew who it was. A turncoat Norwegian monk named Naddod had been big medicine on the dragon-and-blight circuit for the last decade or so, and was known to bring heavy ordnance for whoever could lay out some silver. Scuttlebutt had it that Naddod was operating out of a monastery on Lindisfarne, whose people we’d troubled on a pillage-and-consternation tour through Northumbria after Corn Harvesting Month last fall. Now bitter winds were screaming in from the west, searing the land and ripping the grass from the soil. Salmon were turning up spattered with sores, and grasshoppers clung to the wheat in rapacious buzzing bunches.

I tried to put these things out of my mind. We’d been away three long months harrying the Hibernian shores, and now I was back with Pila, my common-law, and thinking that home was very close to paradise in these endless summer days. We’d built our house together, Pila and me. It was a fine little wattle and- daub cabin on a pretty bit of plain where a wide blue fjord stabbed into the land. On summer evenings my young wife and I would sit out front, high on potato wine, and watch the sun stitch its brilliant orange skirt across the horizon. At times such as these, you get a big feeling, like the gods made this place, this moment, first and concocted you as an afterthought just to be there to enjoy it.

I was doing a lot of enjoying and relishing and laying around the rack with Pila, though I knew what it meant when I heard those flint-edged winds howling past the house. Some individuals three weeks’ boat ride off were messing up our summer and would probably need their asses whipped over it.

Of course, Djarf Fairhair had his stinger out even before his wife spotted those dragons winging it inland. He was boss on our ship and a fool for warfare [. . .]  He was agitating to hop back in the ship and go straighten things out in Northumbria. My buddy Gnut, who lived just over the stony moraine our wheat field backed up on, came down the hill one day and admitted that he, too, was giving it some thought. Like me, he wasn’t big on warrioring. He was just crazy for boat. We used to joke and say he’d have rowed from his shack to his shithouse if somebody would invent a ship whose prow could cut sod. His wife had passed years ago, dead from bad milk, and now that she was gone, the part of Gnut that felt peaceful in a place that didn’t move beneath him had sickened and died as well.

Pila saw him coming down the hill . “Don’t need to guess what he’ll be wanting,” she scowled and headed back indoors. Gnut ambled down over the hummocky earth and stopped at the pair of stump chairs Pila and I had put up on the hill where the view was so fine. From there, the fjord shone like poured silver, and sometimes you could spot a seal poking his head up through the waves.

Gnut’s wool coat was stiff with filth and his long hair so heavy and unclean that even the wind was having a hard time getting it to move. He had a good crust of snot going in his mustache, not a pretty thing to look at, but then, he had no one around to find it disagreeable. He tore a sprig of heather from the ground and chewed at its sweet roots.

“Djarf get at you yet?” he asked.

“No, not yet, but I’m not worried he’ll forget.”

He took the sprig from his teeth and briefly jammed it into his ear before tossing it away. “You gonna go?”

“Not until I hear the particulars, I won’t.”

“You can bet I’m going. Ahydra flew in last night and ran off Rolf Hierdal’s sheep. We can’t be putting up with this shit. It comes down to pride, is what it comes down to.”

“Hell, Gnut, when’d you get to be such a gung-ho motherfucker? I don’t recall you being so proud and thin-skinned before Astrud went off to her good place. Anyway, Lindisfarne is probably sacked-out already. If you don’t recall, we pillaged the tar out of those people on the last swing through, and I doubt they’ve come up with much in the meantime to justify a trip.”

I wished Gnut would go ahead and own up to the fact that his life out here was making him lonely and miserable instead of laying on with this warrior-man routine. I could tell just to look at him that most days he was thinking of walking into the water and not bothering to turn back. He wanted back on the boat among company.

Not that I was all that averse to a job myself, speaking in the abstract, but I was needing more sweet time with Pila. I cared more for that girl than even she probably knew, and I was hoping to get in some thorough lovemaking before the Haycutting Month was under way and see if I couldn’t make us a little monkey.

But the days wore on and the weather worsened. Pila watched it sharply, and the hysterical sadness welled up in her, as it often did when I’d be leaving. She cussed me on some days, and others she’d hold me to her and weep. And late one evening, far toward dawn, the hail started. It came suddenly, with the hard terrifying scraping sound a ship makes when its keel scrapes stone. We hunkered down in the sheepskins, and I whispered soothing things to Pila, trying to drown out the clatter.

The sun was not yet full up in the sky when Djarf came and knocked. I rose and stepped across the floor, damp with cold morning dew. Djarf stood in the doorway wearing a mail jacket and shield and breathing like he’d jogged the whole way over. He chucked a handful of hail at my feet. He had a wide grin on his face, “Today’s the day,” he said, «We got to get it on.”

Sure, I could have told him thanks anyway, but once you back down from one job, you’re lucky if they’ll even let you put in for a flat-fee trade escort. I had to think long-term, me and Pila, and any little jits we might make together. Still, she didn’t like to hear it. When I got back in bed, she tucked the covers over her face, hoping I’d think she was angry instead of crying.

The clouds were spilling out low across the sky when we shoved off. Thirty of us on board, Gnut rowing with me at the bow and behind us a lot of other men I’d been in some shit with before [. . .] Thanks to an easy wind blowing from the west, we crossed fast and sighted the island six days early [. . .]

You could say that those people on Lindisfarne were fools, living out there on a tiny island without high cliffs or decent natural defenses, and so close to us and also the Swedes and the Norwegians, how we saw it, we couldn’t afford not to come by and sack every now and again. But when we came into the bright little bay, a quiet fell over all of us. Even the hockchoppers quit grab-assing and looked. The place was wild with fields of purple thistle, and when the wind blew, it twitched and rolled, like the hide of some fantastic animal shrugging in its sleep. Red wildflowers spurted on the hills in fat gorgeous gouts. Apple trees lined the shore, and there was something sorrowful in how they hung so low with fruit. We could see a man making his way toward a clump of white-walled cottages, his donkey loping along behind him with a load. On the far hill, I could make out the silhouette of the monastery; they hadn’t had the roof back from when we’d burned it last. It was a lovely place, and I hoped there would still be something left to enjoy after we got off the ship and wrecked everything up.

We gathered on the beach, and already Djarf was in a lather. He did a few deep knee bends, got down in front of all of us and ran through some poses, cracking his bones and drawing out the knots in his muscles. Then he closed his eyes and said a silent prayer. His eyes were still closed when a man in a long robe appeared, picking his way down through the thistle.

Haakon Gokstad stuck a finger stuck in his mouth where one of his teeth had come out. He removed the finger and spat through the hole. He nodded up the hill at the figure heading our way, “My, that sumbitch has got some brass,” he said.

The man walked straight to Djarf. He stood before him and removed his hood. His hair lay thin on his scalp and had probably been blond before it went white. He was old, with lines on his face that could have been drawn with a dagger point.

“Naddod,” Djarf said, dipping his head slightly. “Suppose you’ve been expecting us.”

“I certainly have not,” Naddod said. He brought his hand up to the rude wooden cross that hung from his neck. “And I won’t sport with you and pretend the surprise is entirely a pleasant one. Frankly, there isn’t much left here worth pirating, so, yes, it’s a bit of a puzzle.”

“Uh-huh,” said Djarf. “Can’t tell us anything about a hailstorm, or locusts and shit, or a bunch of damn dragons coming around and scaring the piss out of everybody’s wife. You don’t know nothing about any of that.”

Naddod held his palms up and smiled piteously. “No, I’m very sorry, I don’t. We did send a monkey pox down to the Spanish garrison at Much Wenlock, but honestly, nothing your way.”

Djarf’s tone changed, and his voice got loud and amiable. “Huh. Well, that’s something.” He turned to us and held up his hands. “Hey, boys, hate to break it to you, but it sounds like somebody fucked something up here. Old Naddod says it wasn’t him, and as soon as he tells me just who in the hell it was behind the inconveniences we been having, we’ll get back under way.”

“Right.” Naddod said; he was uneasy, and I could see a chill run through him. “If you’re passing through Mercia, I know they’ve just gotten hold of this man Aethelrik. Supposed to be a very tough customer. You know, that was his leprosy outbreak last year in—”

Djarf was grinning and nodding, but Naddod looked stricken. Djarf kept a small knife in his belt, and in the way other men smoked a pipe or chewed seeds, Djarf liked to strop that little knife. It was sharpened down to a little fingernail of blade. You could shave a fairy’s ass with that thing. And while Naddod was talking, Djarf had pulled out his knife and drawn it neatly down the priest’s belly. At the sight of blood washing over the white seashells, everybody pressed forward, hollering and whipping their swords around. Djarf was overcome with a sort of crazed elation, and he hopped up and down, yelling for everybody to be quiet and watch him.

Naddod was not dead. His insides had pretty much spilled out, but he was still breathing. Not crying out or anything, which you had to give him credit for. Djarf hunkered and flipped Naddod onto his stomach and rested a foot in the small of his back.

Gnut was right beside me. He sighed and put his hand over his eyes. “Oh, Lord, he doing a blood eagle?”

“Yeah,” I said. “Looks that way.”

Djarf raised his palm for quiet. “Now I know most of the old-timers have seen one of these before, but it might be a new one on some of you young men.” The hockchoppers tittered. “This thing is what we call a blood eagle, and if you’ll just sit tight a second you can see—well, it’s a pretty wild effect.”

The men stepped back to give Djarf room to work. He placed the point of his sword to one side of Naddod’s spine. He leaned into it and worked the sword in gingerly, delicately crunch-ing through one rib at a time until he’d made an incision about a foot long. He paused to wipe sweat from his brow, and made a parallel cut on the other side of the backbone. Then he knelt and put his hands into the cuts. He fumbled around in there a second, and then drew Naddod’s lungs out through the slits. As Naddod huffed and gasped, the lungs flapped, looking sort of like a pair of wings. I had to turn away myself. It was very grisly stuff.

The young men roared, and Djarf stood there, conducting the applause. Then, at his command, they all broke out their sieging tackle and swarmed up the hill.

Only Gnut and Haakon and ØrlStender and me didn’t go. Ørl watched the others flock up toward the monastery, and when he was sure no one was looking back, he went to where Naddod lay dying, and struck him hard on the skull with the back of a hatchet. We were all relieved to see those lungs stop quivering. Ørl sighed and blessed himself. He said a funerary prayer, the gist of which was that he didn’t know what this man’s god was all about, but he was sorry that his humble servant had gotten sent up early, and on a bullshit pretext, too. He said he didn’t know the man, but that he probably deserved something better the next time around.

“Cross all that water for this damn stupidity, and a flock of sheep to shave at home,” Haakon grumbled. «Makes it sick, it what it does.»

Gnut smiled and squinted up at the sky. “Have you ever seen a day this fine? Let’s go up the hill and see if we can’t scratch up something for lunch.” It was all the same to him [. . .] he didn’t have a wife waiting on him and he was pissed already; and who’s gonna need to be brought in the complacency of her North-Umbrian buddy?

We hiked up to the little settlement on top of the hill. Some ways over, where the monastery was, the young men were on a spree. They’d dragged out a half-dozen monks, hanged them from a tree, and then set the tree on fire.

Our hands were stiff and raw from the row over, and we paused at a well in the center of the village to wet our palms and have a drink. We were surprised to see one of the young fellows from the boat bust forth from a stand of ash trees, yanking some poor half-dead citizen along behind him. He walked over to where we were standing and let his victim collapse in the dusty boulevard.

“This is nice,” he said to us. “You’d make good chieftains, standing around like this, watching other people work.”

“Why, you little turd,” Haakon said, and backhanded the boy across the mouth. The fellow lying there in the dust looked up and chuckled. The boy flushed. He plucked a dagger from his hip scabbard and stabbed Haakon in the stomach. There was a still moment. Haakon gazed down at the ruby stain spreading across his tunic. He looked greatly vexed.

As the young man realized what he’d done, his features fretted up like a child trying to pout his way out of a spanking. He was still looking that way when Haakon cleaved his head across the eyebrows with one neat stroke.

Haakon cleaned his sword and looked again at his stomach. “Sumbitch,” he said, probing the wound with his pinky. “It’s deep. I believe I’m in a fix.”

“Nonsense,” said Gnut. “Just need to lay you down and stitch you up.”

Ørl, who was softhearted, went over to the man the youngster had left. He propped him up against the well and gave him the bucket to sip at.

Across the road, an old dried-up farmer had come out of his house. He stared off at the smoke from the monastery rolling down across the bay. He nodded at us. We walked his way.

“Hello,” he said. I told him good day.

He squinted at my face. “Something wrong?” I asked him.

“Apologies,” he said. “Just thought I recognized you, is all.”

“Could be». I said, «I was through here last fall.”

“Uh-huh,” he said. “Now, that was a hot one. Don’t know why you’d want to come back. You got everything that was worth a damn on the last going-over.”

“Yeah, well, we’re having a hard time figuring it ourselves. Came to see your man Naddod. Probably the wrong guy, looks like, but he got gotten anyway, sorry to say.”

The man sighed. “Doesn’t harelip me any. We all had to tithe in to cover his retainer. Do just as well without him, I expect. So what are you doing, any looting?”

“Why? You got anything to loot?”

“Me? Oh, no. Got a decent cookstove, but I can’t see you toting that back on the ship.”

“Don’t suppose you’ve got a coin hoard or anything buried out back?”

“Jeezum crow, I wish I did have. Coin hoard, I’d really turn things around for myself.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t suppose you’d own up if you did.”

 He laughed. “You got that right, my friend. But I suppose you got to kill me or believe me, and either way, you get nothing out of the deal.” He pointed at Haakon, who was leaning on Gnut and looking pretty spent. “Looks like your friend’s got a problem. Unless you’d like to watch him die, why don’t you bring him inside? Got a daughter who’s hell’s own seamstress.”

The man, who was called Bruce, had a cozy little place. We all filed in. His daughter was standing by the stove. She gave a nervous little cry when we came through the door. She had a head full of thick black hair, and a thin face, pale as sugar— a pretty girl. So pretty, in fact, that you didn’t notice right off that she was missing an arm. We all balked and had a good stare at her. But Gnut, you could tell, was truly smitten. The way he looked, blanched and wide-eyed, he could have been facing a wild dog instead of a good-looking woman. He rucked his hands through his hair and tried to lick the crust off his lips. Then he nodded and uttered a solemn “Hullo.”

“Mary,” Bruce said, “this man has developed a hole in his stomach. I said we’d help fix him up.” Mary looked at Haakon. “Aha,” she said. She lifted his tunic and surveyed the wound. “Water,” she said to Ørl, who was looking on. Gnut eyed him jealously as he left for the well. Then he cleared his throat. “I’d like to pitch in,” he said. Mary directed him to a little sack of onions in the corner and told him to chop. Bruce got a fire going in the stove. Mary set the water on and shook in some dry porridge. Haakon, who had grown rather waxen, crawled up on the table and lay still. “I don’t feel like no porridge,” he said.

“Don’t worry about that,” Bruce said. “The porridge is just for the onions to ride in on.”

Gnut kept an eye on Mary as he bent over a small table and overdid it on the onions. He chopped and chopped, and when he’d chopped all they had, he started chopping the chopped-up ones over again. Finally, Mary looked over and told him, “That’s fine, thank you,” and Gnut laid the knife down.

When the porridge was cooked, Mary threw in a few handfuls of onion and took the concoction over to Haakon. He regarded her warily, but when she held the wooden spoon out to him, he opened his mouth like a baby bird. He chewed and swallowed. “Doesn’t taste very good,” he said, but he kept eating anyway.

A minute passed, and then a peculiar thing occurred. Mary lifted Haakon’s tunic again, put her face to the wound, and sniffed at it. She paused a second and then did it again.

“What in the world is this?” I asked.

“Gotta do this with a wound like that,” Bruce said. “See if he’s got the porridge illness.”

“He doesn’t have any porridge illness,” I said. “At least, he didn’t before now. What he’s got is a stab hole in his stomach. Now stitch him up.”

“Won’t do any good if you smell onions coming out of that hole. Means he’s got the porridge illness and he’s done for.”

Haakon looked up. “Talking about a pierced bowel? Can’t believe it’s as bad as all that.”

Mary had another sniff. Apparently the wound didn’t smell like onions. She cleaned Haakon with hot water and stitched the hole to a tight pucker.

Haakon fingered the stitches, and, satisfied, passed out. The five of us stood around, and no one could think of anything to say.

“So,” Gnut said in an offhand way. “Were you born like that?”

“Like what?” Mary said. “Without both arms, I mean. Is that how you came out?”

“Sir, that’s fine a thing to ask my daughter,” Bruce said. “It was your people that did it to her.”

Gnut said, “Oh.” And then he said it again, and then really no one could think of anything to say.

Then Mary spoke. “It wasn’t you who did it,” she said. “But the man who did, I think I’d like to kill him.”

Gnut told her that if she would please let him know who it was, he’d consider it a favor if she’d let him intervene on her behalf [. . . ]

Gnut didn’t come down to the feast. He said he needed to stay at Bruce and Mary’s to look after Haakon. Bullshit, of course, seeing as Haakon made it down the hill by himself and crammed his tender stomach with about nine tough steaks. When the dusk started going black and still no Gnut, I legged it back up to Bruce’s to see about him. Gnut was sitting on a hollow log outside the cottage, flicking gravel into the weeds.

“She’s coming with me,” he said.

“Mary?”

He nodded gravely. “I’m taking her home with me to be my wife. She’s in there talking it over with Bruce.”

“This a voluntary thing, or an abduction-type deal?”

Gnut looked off toward the bay as though he hadn’t heard the question. “She’s coming with me.”

I mulled it over. “You sure this is such a hot idea, bringing her back to live among our people, you know, all things considering?”

He grew quiet. “Any man that touches her, or says anything unkind, it will really be something different, what I’ll do to him.”

We sat a minute and watched the sparks rising from the bonfire on the beach. The warm evening wind carried smells of blossoms and wood smoke, and I was overcome with calm. It was such a pleasant day.

We walked into Bruce’s, where only a single suet candle was going. Mary stood by the window with her one arm crossed over her chest. Bruce was worked up. When we came in, he moved to block the door. “You get out of my house,” he said. “You just can’t take her, what little I’ve got.”

Gnut did not look happy, but he shouldered past and knocked Bruce on his ass. I went and put a hand on the old farmer, who was quaking and stiff with rage.

Mary did not hold her hand out to Gnut. But she didn’t protest when he put his arm around her and moved her toward the door. The look she gave her father was a wretched thing, but still she went easy. With just one arm like that, what could she do? What other man would have her?

Their backs were to us when Bruce grabbed up an awl from the table and made for Gnut. I stepped in front of him and broke a chair on his face, but still he kept coming, scrabbling for my sword, trying to snatch up something he could use to keep his daughter from going away. I had to hold him steady and run my knife into his cheek. I held it there like a horse’s bit, and then he didn’t want to move. When I got up off him he was crying quietly. As I was leaving, he threw something at me and knocked the candle out.

And you might think it was a good thing, that Gnut had found a woman who would let him love her, and if she didn’t exactly love him back, at least she would, in time, get to feeling something for him that wasn’t so far from it. But what would you say about that crossing, when the winds went slack and it was five long weeks before we finally fetched up home? Gnut didn’t hardly say a word to anybody, just held Mary close to him, trying to keep her soothed and safe from all of us, his friends. He wouldn’t look me in the face, stricken as he was by the awful fear that comes with getting hold of something you can’t afford to lose.

After that trip, things changed. It seemed to me that all of us were leaving the high and easy time of life and heading into deeper waters. Not long after we got home, Djarf had a worm crawl up a hole in his foot and had to give up raiding. Gnut Mary turned to homesteading full-time, and I saw less of him. Just catching up over a jar turned into a hassle you had to plan two weeks in advance. And when we did get together, he would laugh and jaw with me a little bit, but you could see he had his mind on other things. He’d gotten what he wanted, but he didn’t seem to make him  happy, just worried all the time.

It didn’t make much sense to me then, what Gnut was going through, but after Pila and me had our little twins, and we put a family together, I got an understanding of how terrible love can be. 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. It’s crazy-making, yet you cling to them with everything and close your eyes against the rest of it. But still you wake up late at night and lie there listening for the creak and splash of oars, the clank of steel, the sounds of men rowing toward your home.
w_tower

##################

¤  [read]  Leopard

      20 UNDER 40:  Q. & A.  –  WELLS TOWER   [New Yorker, September 13, 2010]

When were you born?

April 14, 1973.

Where?

Vancouver, British Columbia.

Where do you live now?

Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

What was the first piece of fiction you read that had an impact on you?

James Thurber’s “The Thirteen Clocks.”

How long did it take you to write your first book?

Seven years.

Did you ever consider not becoming a writer?

For a time, I had hopes of editing the company newsletter in a shoe warehouse.

What, in your opinion, makes a piece of fiction work?

If there were a sole, reliable route to successful fiction, I’d be very keen to know about it. For me, finished drafts emerge from anxious obedience to a bunch of (often) contradictory commandments: the story should be deeply felt, yet shouldn’t hold “feelings” dear. There should be pleasure in the language alone, yet not so much indulgent glee in the sentence work that it robs the characters of their oxygen. The story ought to make the reader laugh, yet if it tap-dances for yuks you’re lost. Etc., etc. With luck, after worriedly tacking to and fro between these sorts of boundary poles, plus a bunch of others, I arrive at work that works.

What was the inspiration for the piece included in the “20 Under 40” series?

The travails of the real-estate market.

What are you working on now?

A novel.

Who are your favorite writers over forty?

Nicholson Baker, Lydia Davis, Geoff Dyer, Deborah Eisenberg, Brian Evenson, Ian Frazier, Allan Gurganus, Edward P. Jones, Thom Jones, Sam Lipsyte, Ben Marcus, Magnus Mills, Steven Millhauser, David Mitchell, Lorrie Moore, Charles Portis, Padgett Powell, Mark Richard, and lots more that I’m forgetting.

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