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If you ask me, there’s nothing funnier than a man seeing all that he’s created—built, grown, accrued, whatever—brought to ruin by the simple, ruthless, infuriating existence of his hapless neighbors. Such is the fate of Bob Munroe, the tragic hero in Wells Towers’s short story, “The Brown Coast,” from our Spring 2002 issue.
Bob wakes up on his face in his uncle Randall’s shack along the muddy beaches in Florida, where he’s been granted quarter while he works things out with his wife, on the condition that he fix the place up. Walking the beach one day, he finds a wondrous tide pool tucked at the reaches of a jetty. At low tide, it’s teeming with exotic sea creatures, which Bob—destitute and in need of beautiful things—collects and deposits in an aquarium in Randall’s shack. Read More