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Tunneling to the Center of the Earth

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,810 Ratings  ·  297 Reviews

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 a 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 sort

Kindle Edition, 208 pages
Published 2009 by HarperCollins e-books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Terence Hawkins
Apr 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After I read the first entry in this remarkable collection-----which, incidentally, concerns the moral and emotional conflicts of a professional rent-a-grandma------I put the book down. Only one story a night, Terry. Pace yourself, man. This is too good to read all at once.

It really is. Wilson has a remarkable ability to get us into the heads of everyday people in surreal situations. A guy who works in a scrabble-piece factory, terrified that he will spontaneously combust, as his parents did. Ha
May 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Etgar Keret'i anımsatan birçok öykü var içinde. 1-2 tanesinden sıkıldım, bir yıldızı da oradan kırıyorum.
Her öykünün ayrı bir roman olmasını isterdim, o kadar güzeldi :")
Kevin Wilson’s Tunneling to the Center of the Earth: Stories reads like the author read a whole lot of Flannery O’Connor while sitting alone at the lunch table in high school. I mean that in a good way.

The stories veer from the vaguely fantasy/sci-fi (“The Grand Stand-In”, about grandparents for hire in the near future) to the creepy (“The Shooting Man”) to the Zen-esque calm of outsiders who struggle with identity (the isolative curator of “The Museum of Whatnot”). Wilson tends to share the per
Jun 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-books
An excellent story collection that brings to mind the strange & compelling work of Elizabeth McCracken. These stories run the gamut of peculiar professions and misplaced oddballs: a professional "grandma" who makes memories on demand, a Scrabble factory worker who fears spontaneous combustion, a freak show regular who takes a bullet to the head every night, a cheerless cheerleader, a curator of banal objects and a balding worst-case scenario expert, among others. Simple prose and straight fo ...more
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Görmüyor musunuz? Bir zamanlar sevdiğimiz şeyler zamanla değişmiyor,değişen bizim onlar hakkındaki düşüncelerimiz. Size kalan tek şey en sonunda hepimize kalan şeyin aynısı oluyor. İçimizde tuttuğumuz,büyüyüp içimize sığmayan,bize kim olduğumuzu söyleyen şeyler."
Kevin Wilson'ı Fang Ailesi romanıyla tanıdım,yaratıcılığına hayran kaldım.Dünyanın Merkezine Tünel Kazmak ise bir öykü kitabı. kısa olmasına karşın daha zor oluşturulduğuna inandığım öykülerde dahi yazar,şaşırtıcı hatta kimi yerlerde vu
Aug 12, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was another NPR selection. There was something kind of Stephen King-esque about these stories. They weren't really horror stories, but there was always soemthing kind of weird and unsettling going on -- Stephen King Lite, I guess. As a whole, the stories range from three to four and a half stars, so I went with a three star overall rating. (If only we had Ann's pie chart method!!) Here are some of my favorites:

"Grand Stand In" -- This is the story of a woman who works for a company that pro
Jul 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Caveat - I LOVE short stories ;) As a YA librarian, I always included a few collections in my book talks, because it's a great way to discover new writers, and they are a good fit for a teen's lifestyle, which is often lacking in time for leisure reading. A short story can be devoured in one sitting on the bus, before bed, in study hall - and you don't have to keep track of plots and characters if you don't have a chance to pick the book up again for weeks.

This was an absolute GEM of a book for
Mary Lynn
Apr 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I picked this book up in Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago I was so drawn in to the first story that I immediately found a seat in the store to read more of it instead of continuing to browse through B&N. (And browsing in B&N is just about my favorite thing in the world, so the fact that I ended up devoting my entire trip to this one book is saying something!) That first story was called "Grand Stand-In" and here's that opening graph that grabbed me and wouldn't let go:

The key to thi
Feb 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This guy just jumped into my car and screaming, "GO, GO, GO!!!" And I didn't know where we were going but the way he spoke made me certain that I would love it, wherever it was.

And so it was.

We peeled around strange corners and squealed through peoples lives, odd characters I never would have met or even imagined in my own life, with my own imagination at the wheel. Smashing through their kitchen windows and listening in our their private conversations, voyeurs breaking the speed of dreams, I w
Sansriti Tripathi
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have had this sitting on my bookshelf for the longest time and finally decided to read it - I'm so glad I did because this was a beautifully written collection of short stories. Definitely check this novel out if you're looking for a series of quirky and resonant stories.
Mark Stevens
Apr 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bold, confident, matter-of-fact weirdness. These 11 stories start strange, stay strange and beg you to believe all these unusual situations are, well, perfectly plausible. Kevin Wilson takes reality and gives it an ever-so-slight Twilight Zone inversion.

Slight? Well, maybe more than slight. In most of these, he stretches the ordinary and part of the inherent tension is this: how far is he going to take this premise?

Next, Wilson adds a colorful, memorable character who accepts this alternate real
Aug 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
“She is prettier than her picture had prepared me for, blond curls, big blue eyes, like a fake child that someone would make in order to convince people to have children” (13).
“I walk down the stairs, into the exercise room, where the Beamers are riding machines to infinity” (16).
“To unlock the potential power of the letter Q, one must learn quickly that there are other words to spell than those that have the standard qu structure like quartet and quality and queen. Qat, qaid, qoph, and faqir wi
Nov 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The stories in Tunneling to the Center of the Earth grab you from the first line (It took me damn near a week to convince Sue-Bee to come watch this guy shoot himself in the face) and surprise you with shocks of tenderness mingled with absurdity. Many of these stories involve some little tweak of reality that makes them loveable, funny, and engaging, illuminating their often sad underpinnings. The opening story, "Grand Stand-In," is narrated by an older woman with no family of her own who answer ...more
May 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I picked up Tunneling to the Center of the Earth as I was wandering around at Parnassus, the only indie bookstore in Nashville, TN. Wilson's short story book, along with his novel, were laid out on the "Local Authors" table. The collection of short stories was not what I expected. In a good way.

If I were to compare, thought Wilson does not need to be compared, I would compare this collection to Etgar Keret's collections, perhaps The Girl on the Fridge. Sure, Wilson's characters are very in-the-m
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most of the short stories in this book revolve around the theme of people who are alone and/or lonely. The stories all have one or more surprising twists in them. It is a remarkable and enjoyable collection.
Oct 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kevin Wilson is my new author boyfriend. These stories are so great, you guys. You should just read them. It has been a while since I read a book that I started making plans to sneak away with. OK, so at lunch I'll be able to read another story and then on the subway ride home, I'll be able to read a little bit more and if I don't return so-and-sos phone call, I can read a little bit more. This is how good they are. The hook of each of them is so clever. A grandmother stand in service? A woman h ...more
Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
Received this as a Christmas present from my reading group on LibraryThing. A debut collection of 11 short stories. I enjoyed all of them to one degree or another. This is a very sincere, but offbeat collection.

From the the story; "The Gran Stand In", about a service that provides grandparents for hire to replace someone's ailing or deceased parents when they can't bear to tell the grandkids, to "Museum of Whatnot" that takes hording to the next level.

Hard to pick my favorite, but I'll go with t
May 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: weird-stuff
This book merits the adjective "amazing." Wilson's stories are so good for reasons that almost seem unusual nowadays--they are rooted in grand ideas and memorable plots. A woman works as a grandma for hire... a man becomes fascinated by a circus trick that amounts to suicide... and another man is hired to tell his clients various theories about the worst things could happen to them. There are strong hooks throughout this book and it has the feel of a classic collection, maybe even the same class ...more
Al Zaquan
All his stories can be summed up in a sentence. His characters are always made to be lacking in some obvious, uncomplicated way - whether it's a baby with monstrous teeth, girl with no social connections, college grads who'd rather dig holes in the ground than think about their careers. This is a simple book full of very simple, short stories. The emotional wins at the end of every story, as a result, feel similarly simple. Rather than writing a character who is fully human, the author pokes som ...more
Aug 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Go read this book. Why? Because two different people* have each stolen my lent-out copy rather than give it up. =) The stories are that good. You want to keep them around. Recently I had to buy my third copy of Tunneling to the Center of the Earth. And will I lend it out again? You betcha...because everyone should read this book.

* (an acquaintance and an ex-boyfriend, in case you were curious)
May 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone.
Recommended to Muse by: Colby
Whoa. Mind freaking blown.

Kevin Wilson is a genius. In this surreal anthology of wild short stories, he twists gut-wrenching bittersweet, hopeful, beautiful stories that just... I have no words.

Also, Go Fight Win is my favorite.:)

The characters are so relatable. In a strange way, I connect to their insecurities, fears, passions. So yes. In other words, go read. Get ready for your mind to be blown.
Jun 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
What a weird little short story collection.
May 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Praticamente una via di mezzo fra un DFW non ossessionato da farmaci impronunciabili e un Saunders più a suo agio nei rapporti interpersonali.
Oct 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
It's like George Saunders went Southern Gothic. Dark as the blackest night but also very funny. Highly recommended.
May 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reminded me a little of early Tom Robbins, quirky characters & stories.
It is hard to rate a short story collection. There are three stories that I think are awesome. There was one that left me angry and sad, one that confused me, two sad ones, one I'm conflicted about...
My favorite was "Grand Stand-In" about a woman whose job it is to pretend to be these families' grandma.
The one that made me angry and sad was "Mortal Kombat" about two friends struggling with their sexuality. It was complex and yet... it was negatively physical. They don't have a loving relationshi
John Luiz
I am not normally a fan of offbeat, fantastical stories, preferring fiction with realistic situations that shed insight on circumstances I might share in my own life. But Kevin Wilson, who goes back and forth between the real and surreal throughout this collection, won me over big-time. Even his often odd premises - like parents who hire professionals to pretend to be grandparents to their children - bear too close a resemblance to reality, given how many parents won't take their children to nur ...more
Jan 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
I loved Kevin Wilson's The Family Fang a few years ago and this is the only other thing the library had. I'm not a huge short story guy, and like most collections of stories I read, this was hit and miss for me. Some I liked, some I didn't. Looking forward to Wilson's next novel though!
Robin Edman
Feb 23, 2017 rated it liked it
This book would have been a four, because the stories are very good, but they're sad and angst-producing, so I did not enjoy them.

Also, "it's" is a contraction of it and is. It is never, ever to be used as a possessive.
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Kevin Wilson was born, raised, and still lives in Tennessee. His writing has appeared in Ploughshares, One Story, Greensboro Review, The Oxford American, Carolina Quarterly and elsewhere. His work has twice been included in the New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best anthology (2005, 2006). He has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the KHN Center for the Arts. A graduat ...more
More about Kevin Wilson...

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“Don't you see? The things we once loved do not change, only our belief in them... You are left with the only things that any of us have in the end. The things we keep inside of ourselves, that grow out of us, that tell us who we are.” 13 likes
“She's got a way of making a man feel guilty for certain things he'd never feel bad about on his own, like watching someone shoot himself in the face.” 6 likes
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