Word nerds will totally get this. I have a big old crush on Kevin Wilson. A literary crush. If you read one of my posts from a few months ago, you know that I mentioned Kevin’s book The Family Fang as a book I wish I’d written. Well, I just finished his short story collection from a few years ago, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, and I can tell you I don’t just wish I’d written the book. I wish I could write just like him. I have a serious case of love for his work. His stories are quirky, and funny, and dark and surreal, and touching and strange. Everything I like in stories (and people, for that matter).
When I was in the early stages of my bookish life, I would get literary crushes on characters. Little Women’s Laurie was one of the first, as was Gilbert (from the Anne books). But then, I started writing, and instead of the characters, I started falling in love with the writers. I wanted to meet them, to talk to them, to write them silly school girl letters about how much I adored them. How their words made the earth move for me.
The wonderful thing about literary crushes is that they can be anyone, male or female, straight or gay. Literary crushes are gender blind and color blind. They are equal opportunity loves. I have crushed on Lee Smith for years, and Steve Almond, and Toni Morrison, and Dorothy Allison. I’ve been lucky enough to hear all of them read, and to speak to them afterwards. Each time I blushed and stammered and desperately wanted to ask them to hang out with me.
Back to Kevin. I met his wife Leigh Anne Couch last November at Hambidge Center, where her cottage was across the road and through the woods from mine. Leigh Anne is an amazing poet, and a really funny and nice person. At dinner the night I discovered who her husband was – I didn’t know for several days – I gushed on and on about The Family Fang. It must have been rather annoying to her, since she was there, after all, to focus on her own work. But she was great about it, and I managed not to beg her for an introduction. Though that was before I read Tunneling, back when I was just “in like” with him. Not in full-blown crush mode.
Anyway, Leigh Anne, I’m sorry, but I gotta say this: Kevin Wilson, I heart you. Wanna hang out?