Kevin Wilson

Kevin Wilson is the author of Tunneling to the Center of the Earth (Ecco/Harper Perennial, 2009). His fiction has appeared in Ploughshares, Tin House, One Story, and elsewhere. He lives in Sewanee, TN.

what are you reading now

Blackmailer by George Axelrod

A pulp novel from 1952 about a New York publisher “on the trail of the literary find of the century…and the killer who will stop at nothing to keep it from being found.” Axelrod wrote the screenplays for Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Manchurian Candidate.


The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

An incredible book that I’ve been reading off and on since August of 2008. I read a section and then put it away for a month. I have no idea why I’m doing this.

classic you’ve been meaning to read

Go Down, Moses by William Faulkner

I’ve started this book three times, really like it, and then stop reading it for no discernible reason.

last book to bring you to tears

A Better Angel by Chris Adrian

Adrian’s books are some of the most emotionally affecting works I’ve ever read. Children in hospitals, the constant threat of a painful death, people struggling to find happiness under the worst circumstances. It’s beautiful.

book you borrowed and never returned

The Nimrod Flipout by Etgar Keret

My friend, Cecily Parks, loaned me this book back in June of last year and I never returned it, partly because I couldn’t figure out if she was giving it to me or loaning it to me. I have resisted the urge to ask her to clarify because I don’t want to give it back.

guilty pleasure reading

I have no guilt about reading. I read comic books, pulp novels, Pat Conroy novels. It’s all good.

worst book-to-film adaptation

The Scarlet Letter and The Human Stain

most scribble-ridden book in your collection

I have never written in a book. It’s some kind of comic book mania that prevents me from messing up the condition of a book, which lowers the value.

book you’ve planted on a coffee table to impress someone

EC Archives Crime Suspenstories Vol. 1

It impressed no one.

best american short stories, pen/o. henry prizes, or the pushcart prize anthology

I think it would be the first BASS I ever bought, 1993, which has “The Girl on the Plane” by Mary Gaitskill, “Charlotte” by Tony Earley, “I Want to Live!” by Thom Jones, “Concerning Mold Upon the Skin” by Joanna Scott, and “Terrific Mother” by Lorrie Moore.

I’d also like to mention BASS 1982, which has “Cathedrals” by Raymond Carver as the opening story and then follows with an amazing story by a guy I’ve never seen again, James Ferry. The story is called “Dancing Ducks and Talking Anus” and begins, “I suppose you’ve heard that Renee douched herself with sulfuric acid.”

collected stories of

Flannery O’Connor

if you could subscribe to only one literary journal

Hobart or One Story

best thing you’ve read online recently

An Index of How Our Family Was Killed” by Matt Bell

most anticipated upcoming release

Love and Obstacles by Aleksandar Hemon


What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us by Laura van den Berg

recommended reading list:

Ten Guys: Historical Figures in Short Fiction

- Walt Whitman: “Every Night for a Thousand Years” by Chris Adrian in Gob’s Grief

- Lyndon Baines Johnson: “Lyndon” by David Foster Wallace in Girl With Curious Hair

- Christopher Columbus: “The Man Who Rowed Christopher Columbus Ashore” by Harlan Ellison in Slippage

- Antonie van Leeuwenhoek: “Concerning Mold Upon the Skin” by Joanna Scott in Various Antidotes

- J.E.B. Stuart: “Knowing He Was Not My Kind Yet I Followed” by Barry Hannah in Airships

- Robert Kennedy: “Robert Kennedy Saved From Drowing” by Donald Barthelme in Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts

- John McEnroe: “John McEnroe Visits Seven Months” by Sean Lovelace in Crazyhorse No. 68

- Benjamin Franklin: “Mrs. Franklin Ascends” by Fred Chappell in Moments of Light

- Anton Chekhov: “Errand” by Raymond Carver in Elephant

- Carl Linnaeus: “The English Pupil” by Andrea Barrett in Ship Fever


  1. I love all of this. I'm going to find the 1982 BASS.

  2. Great, all around -- excellent questions, terrific answers! Well done!

  3. great - kevin is great and chris adrian is too (his esquire piece last year about the father/son/grandfather (and injured hand) is one of my favorites

  4. Wonderful interview, I love hearing what other writers are reading, gives me great ideas!