Book Review: Tunneling to the Center of the Earth

Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, the first short story collection by Kevin Wilson, is an impregnable force of fiction. It cannot be impregnated.

By that I mean that it’s very, very good. I haven’t been able to put it down the last few days.

Wilson is one of those authors who can seemingly effortlessly weave a tale without the use of fancy language or extra words. He barely even uses dialogue, and rarely a metaphor or simile (and when he does, it’s perfect, i.e., when a character worries about the side effects of hair-loss medication, he muses, “My head could cave in like a rotten jack-o’-lantern”).

Most of the stories have heartbreaking elements, but I was uplifted simply because I was given the chance to read them. Many of the concepts in the book have elements of humor to them, and I laughed out loud once. (Spoiler: In the titular story, a character avoids real life after college by digging tunnels under his town. When he accidentally breaks through the cinder-block walls of a neighbor’s basement, startling some kids, he says, “Sorry, I must have the wrong house”).

Of the eleven stories in the collection, only two miss the mark. The other nine are brilliant. My top four:

  1. “Tunneling to the Center of the Earth” (as said about, three college grads avoid real life by digging. Like the new movie Adventureland, but with shovels)
  2. “Grand Stand-In” (love and deception in a rent-a-grandmother service)
  3. “Mortal Kombat” (two high-school nerds, in the absence of other young love, explore their blossoming sexuality with each other)
  4. “Go, Fight, Win” (standard story: pretty girl moves to new town, becomes cheerleader at high school, spends free time making model cars, falls for a 12-year-old)

Tunneling is on sale on Amazon for $10.97.