The New Yorker’s real version of a Kevin Wilson story

By Melanie Yarbrough

Since we’re talking about the things we’re reading, I wanted to share something I just stumbled upon. It’s a perfect example of when real life bumps into stories, when fiction proves itself possible and authors prove themselves not just imaginative but observant.

One of my favorite recent story collections is Kevin Wilson’s Tunneling to the Center of the Earth. If you haven’t read it yet, you have to. No excuses. One of my favorite stories in the collection, “The Museum of Whatnot” contains so many layers to relate to: The nobility of rejecting all physical objects and the freedom we expect comes with it. Wilson reaches beyond that, suggesting the necessity of simultaneously rejecting meaningful emotional connections at the same time. Often we collect things because of some compulsion or connection to another human being, to a certain time in our lives we label as particularly full of joy or pain. The things we own (and read) say so much about us and in Wilson’s story about a museum where our hoards of stuff go after we die, so do the things we choose not to own.

So imagine my delight when I came across the New Yorker’s News Desk today, where Roz Chast talks about a friend who finds her father’s own quirky collection in his closet after he passes. It’s an interesting look into the artifacts we’re left with after a loved one’s passing and, if you’ve read the story, adds yet another layer to the very familiar foundation of Wilson’s story.

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