Has anyone out there read Blue Like Jazz and wished that the author had a little less…you know…baggage? Then have I got a book for you! Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl, by N.D. Wilson, will satisfy your post-modern literary taste-buds without forcing you to swallow some pragmatic theology along with it. And Wilson’s penchant for mixed metaphors not withstanding, he is one heck of a writer.
Another similarity to the author of Blue Like Jazz: Wilson may not be a genius, but if you lived in a small town with him, everyone would call him the town genius. Which means that he would know that everyone thinks he’s a genius, which is kind of what it feels like when you read him. But Wilson (unlike Miller) is just so gosh darn fascinated with the world that his boyish wonderment is completely disarming. He talks about a thunderstorm like it’s the apocalypse, the destruction of a tiny ant hill like it’s the end of the Roman empire, and a babbling brook as though it were speaking Socrates.
Socrates is something else he often writes about. At least, he writes about Socrates’ cohorts often. Philosophers pop up every other page and he makes some belittling, witty, and interesting comment about them.
One thing he doesn’t belittle: God and His big world. I’m not exactly sure what this book is about, except how big God is and how big and bad He made His world. In fact, my personal favorite chapter is an argument for the beauty or importance of mean and ugly things. He reminds us that every fluffy bunny has a death scream, cherubim in the Bible would never wind up on a Hallmark card, and God invented armpits. This chapter was particularly meaningful to me because the last time I read through the Psalms, I realized that I actually only read half of it. I literally skip through any psalm that asks God to kill someone, or any psalm that says God is angry or terrible or not cuddly cozy. I don’t want to be the person who skips half the Psalms, or half of life for that matter. Wilson, it seems, is a step ahead of me.
Although Notes may not ever be known for its clarity or focus, it is definitely a ride and a fun one. This is not Wilson’s debut and I wasn’t surprised to learn that his other works are Children’s Fantasy. I’m sure those books are a fun ride as well. So if you’re craving some good, old-fashioned amazement, here’s the ticket.