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In Tunneling to the Center of the Earth—a dazzling collection in the tradition of George Saunders or Kelly Link—Kevin Wilson’s 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.
Southern gothic at its best, laced with humour and pathos, the wonderfully inventive stories in Tunneling to the Center of the Earth explore the relationship between loss and death and the many ways we try to cope with both.
‘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.’
‘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.’
‘[A] lively, inventive book…Wilson offers fabulous twists and somersaults of the imagination.’
‘A Southern writer with a bent sense of humor offers a fine debut collection of stories, some unlike anything you’ve read before. Wilson displays a marvelous sense of narrative ingenuity…Weird and wonderful stories from a writer who has that most elusive of gifts: new ideas.’
‘[A] captivating debut collection…fresh and darkly comedic.’
‘All the stories in Tunneling to the Center of the Earth are lush with imagination, humanity, and wit.’
‘Good lord, I can’t believe how good this book is…It’s wholly original. It’s also perfect.’
‘Charmingly addictive—I didn’t want to put it down…You’ll just love this wonderful book.’
‘The sheer energy of imagination in Wilson’s work makes other writers of realistic fiction look lazy.’
‘Wilson writes with the studied quirkiness of George Saunders or filmmaker Wes Anderson, and there’s some genuine warmth beneath all the surface eccentricity.’