Wilson’s Tunneling to the Center of the Earth

As we did last summer, we’ll be running our “From the Trenches” blog column through the fall, where our summer interns will have the opportunity to inform you on almost anything–beach reads, sewage, envelope stuffing, you name it. Below is a review of Kevin Wilson’s story collection, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth. For those of you keeping score at home, the collection won the Shirley Jackson prize last week. Enjoy!

From a fake granny, to a sorter of Q’s at the Scrabble Factory, to a big-toothed baby, to an agent at Worst-Case Scenario, Inc, Wilson’s characters captivate us with a sense of immediacy. All we have to do is listen.

And yet, each narrative, in its own discrete way, makes us, the readers, an integral part of Tunneling to the Center of the Earth. In his Q&A interview regarding “Worst-Case Scenario” (issue #42), Wilson revealed that one of his greatest challenges in writing is “embracing the ridiculous nature of the story without making the concerns of the characters ridiculous.” Clearly, he has risen to that task by placing his characters in situations that are at once fantastically bizarre and real; by creating strange realities that are microcosms of our “true” reality.

He explores the dead and disturbing, but with a comical flair that reminds us that laughter, or, at the very least, hope, can endure even in the most depressing set of circumstances.

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