Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Review: "Nothing to See Here" by Kevin Wilson

The one thought I could not escape while reading Kevin Wilson’s third novel Nothing to See Here was that of his recent short story collection Baby, You’re Gonna Be Mine and the short story within titled “Wildfire Johnny”. It is the best thing Wilson has written and it is just as high concept as this story of flaming children, but it is so, so much better. There is rarely a paragraph in these 254 pages that does not feel derivative or a turn of phrase I have not seen done better somewhere else. Besides the relationship between the two central women in the book, every character feels thinly drawn plot devices and in one case a single dimensional villain, so when it tries for an emotional payoff. It totally does not earn it. I do not think if this were a short story rather than a full-length novel it would change anything, but it would be a start. Taking place in the mid-90s (seems like a pattern in 2019 book) it opens with Lillian receiving a letter from her former friend Madison. Lillian is a woman on the verge of her 30’s who has been beset by a series of external miscalculations stemming from when Madison, a daughter of a wealthy family. Had her take the fall for a stash of drugs while they attended boarding school. Now, Madison, now married to Jasper Roberts, a presidential hopeful, asks for her help in babysitting Jasper’s kids from a previous marriage who just so happen to burst into flames when they have a tantrum. It is never explained, and in a good story it would not have to be so here it feels shoehorned in and takes time away from Lillian and Madison’s story and how much (or little) their relationship has changed. And the eventual actions of Jasper seem predictable and kind of lazy, making for a swift novel that still, somehow, overstays its welcome. 
Rating: 3/5

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