A new Kevin Wilson title is always cause for celebration here at Turnaround. After the – ahem – incendiary Nothing to See Here back in 2019 [check], which followed a pair of (literally) combustible twins and the equally (figuratively) combustible nanny, we are confirmed fans of Wilson’s weird world. So, naturally, his newly reissued collection of short stories Tunneling to the Center of the Earth is our book of the month for October.
Packed with short stories reminiscent of George Saunders, the initial publication for Tunneling to the Center of the Earth back in 2009 announced Wilson as a major new literary voice – and netted him the Shirley Jackson Award that same year. In this collection, characters inhabit a world that moves seamlessly between the real and the imagined, the mundane and the fantastic. ‘Grand Stand-In’ is narrated by an employee of the Nuclear Family Supplemental Provider – a company that supplies ‘stand-ins’ for families with deceased, ill, or just plain mean grandparents. And in ‘Blowing Up On the Spot,’ a young woman works sorting tiles at a Scrabble factory after her parents have spontaneously combusted – an early example of Kevin Wilson’s preoccupation with characters who suddenly burst into flame, which of course he would revisit in our aforementioned beloved Nothing to See Here.
Funny, bizarre, and deeply human, Tunneling To The Center Of The Earth explores the relationship between loss and death – and the many weird ways we try to cope with both.
Praise for Kevin Wilson and Tunneling To The Center of the Earth:
‘Kevin Wilson’s stories show us a world that is both real and full of illusion…He forces us to look at our own lives in a new and slightly off-kilter way.’ – Ann Patchett
‘These superb, often audacious stories rework the ordinary into surreal yet hauntingly plausible worlds, and we emerge seeing ourselves with fresh, if somewhat nervous, clarity.’ – Ben Fountain
‘Acute and uniformly unsettling, these fictions explore themes of loss and loneliness with fresh young insight, and occasionally with a faint rainbow at the end.’ –Boston Globe
‘[A] lively, inventive book…Wilson offers fabulous twists and somersaults of the imagination.’ – New York Times
‘[A] captivating debut collection…fresh and darkly comedic.’ – Rumpus
‘All the stories in Tunneling to the Center of the Earth are lush with imagination, humanity, and wit.’ – The Rumpus
Tunneling to the Center of the Earth by Kevin Wilson
is available from Text Publishing Company on 28th October.
(9781911231370, p/b, £10.99)