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Reading Kevin Wilson

Tunneling to the Center of the Earth: Stories
by Kevin Wilson

After Kevin Wilson’s most recent novel NOTHING TO SEE HERE worked its peculiar charms on me, I found myself thinking, oh my god, where did this Kevin Wilson person come from? And now I know. Here he is, shining forth in his first collection, published in 2009 and soon to be republished by Ecco in September 2020. Or maybe I should say, “bursting forth” or even “exploding forth,” because there is a story here even in this first collection, a decade before Nothing to See Here, that has people spontaneously combusting in it. Unlike in Wilson’s recent novel, the combusting people blow up without any warning flames flaming up beforehand. They just go boom, in the story “Blowing Up on the Spot.” There are other body horrors in the other stories, and these are just as charming, and I really do mean “charming,” because the explosive transformations that happen to Wilson’s characters always seem a little on the light-hearted side even when they end in death.

It’s hard to say what I would have thought about these stories without coming to them back through time, via Nothing to See Here. I can’t imagine it because the novel had a big impact on me. But as ‘origin stories’ of Wilson’s proclivities, hangups, and obsessions, I loved these stories.

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