Wonderful, Weird, and Beautifully Hypnotic.
There are very few times when short stories capture my attention. Often when reading a short story collection, I feel like I am “missing” something. That quintessential piece of the puzzle or the ending that completes the story. With “Tunneling to the Center of the Earth” however, that didn’t happen. Instead, I was left feeling mesmerized by the masterful stories created by Kevin Wilson, in much the same way that I was with “Nothing to See Here” the first novel that I read by him which I adored with my whole heart. This collection is bright, clever, entertaining, and extremely unique.
My favorites include:
“Grand Stand-In” (My favorite short story by far) – Endearing and Heartfelt! Here, a woman becomes a substitute grandmother for families in need. Whether it be because of loss, or illness, the families request a replacement grandmother, and presto! Bonds are formed, much more easily than you’d imagine with several different families as the “Grand Stand-In” is simply delightful. Kind, caring, quite funny, giving, and warm. Can I just say that I’d love to make a request?! (Pretty please with sugar on top?).
“Go Fight Win” – Perfection, Pure and Simple! Penny is a High School Cheerleader who does her best to fit in at her mother’s request, though she personally hates being a cheerleader. Her spare time is spent building model cars, which is the only thing that brings her happiness until she meets her next-door neighbor, who shares the same hobby. Despite their age difference, a friendship is formed. Just call me enchanted.
“Blowing up on the Spot” – A story of brothers, orphans, if you must know. Their parents spontaneously combusted on a train a few years prior. Their deaths cannot be explained. The eldest brother works in a factory day after day gathering scrabble tiles (the letter Q in case you’re wondering) in order to support his younger brother who is a very troubled, yet gifted swimmer. Devotion is the key here and it is a heartbreaker.
“Birds in the House” – Oddly Wonderful and Captivating all at the same time. A story about family, sibling rivalry, and well, birds. Lots of birds: paper cranes to be exact. When an estate is at stake everything runs amok. Here, four brothers compete in a contest to create 250 paper cranes each, in order to determine who will be the winner of a once-grand estate.
And for the short story that made me laugh while I was trying to wind down “Tunneling to the Center of the Earth” and the parents who questioned their son’s action with “Do you think it’s the marijuana that’s making you do this?” – all I can say is, that was something!
Kevin Wilson’s collection is brilliant, clever, and oh so imaginative. Each story captured my attention in a different way. Furthermore, the narrators included here are nothing short of dazzling. While I preferred Kevin Wilson’s novel “Nothing to See Here” (simply because I loved the characters), I truly enjoyed this short story collection and highly recommend it. For those who enjoy audiobooks, I would grab it as it is absolutely phenomenal.
I must thank my Goodreads friends Cheri and Debbie for recommending this to me. The two of you were right – I loved this and several of the stories did in fact make me laugh out loud. Thank you both!
Thank you also to Kevin Wilson and all of the narrators who lent their voices to this incredible collection.
Review published on Goodreads and excerpt on Insta.