“Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl” – Book review

Notes-from-the-Tilt-a-WhirlI should have known from the title. Or at least from the first sentence in the book:

What excuses can I possibly make for this book?
– N. D. Wilson

That’s not necessarily a bad start. But for me, this time, it should have been an omen.

If you like a crazy, whirlwind, where-the-wind-blows style of writing, you’ll love Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl. But if you don’t, well, skip it. You might get motion sick like me.

Author N. D. Wilson is a gifted writer. I can tell that. And he has valuable things to say. I can pick that out, too. But his approach here is a barrage of random thoughts. Ultimately it was dizzying to try to connect the dots, regardless of how beautifully the dots were drawn.  

The last sentence?

It is time to stagger into the night.

And with that, I was glad to go.

Nonetheless, many people love this style. It is more poetry than prose, and it is artfully done (qualities I do admire). Not everybody has to have structure. So don’t reject it on my account.

Here are some things I did glean from it, here and there.

It is hard to stay focused with so much swirling around me. God is distracting. He never stops talking, and I can never stop listening.


There is a reason we sleep.

I have been given a belly so that I might hunger. I have been given hunger so that I might be fed.

. . . if God has the authority to design my teeth from scratch, then He has the authority to choose my end.


God has the authority to shape a soul with His voice, bind it to matter, and send it into history. And He has the authority to sever my soul from my body and call it to another part of the stage. He has the authority to reuse the matter from my flesh in daffodils. I’m not worried. I’ll get more.

I look at the world, and I understand the impulse of some of the mystics through Christendom’s odd and spotty past. I understand why they could feel the need to sit on poles for years on end or to fast to the point of death. It is a way of staring at the world without blinking, an attempt at getting at new layers long buried beneath the distractions of our flesh, our communities, our perceived needs. I understand their impulse, because sometimes I think I would understand reality better if I only ever looked at it through a toilet paper tube.

* * *

Do you like the crazy spinning rides at the fair? Give me an up-and-down Cyclone and keep me away from the Teacups.

My thanks to Thomas Nelson
for the review copy of this book

6 thoughts on ““Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl” – Book review

  1. Rick Dawson

    My chuckle – without having read the book, but purely based on what you shared – is that I have many days like that in a row. Thoughts that seem to tumble as if out of a laundry basket, needing to be sorted, and yet left atop the bed while some other task takes precedence. Today, in fact, is one of those days. I don’t know whether or not I would like the book, but I love how you shared from it. Thanks, Lisa!


    1. Lisa notes...

      Ha. I have a lot of days like that too, Rick. Ironically, this week has been one upturned laundry basket atop another. Maybe that’s why I didn’t like the book–I get enough craziness in real life and in my head. And I don’t think that would make very interesting reading for anybody else. 🙂

  2. Barbara H.

    I don’t think this sounds like something I’d like…I prefer more structure. 🙂 I do have to admit my thoughts may be tilt-a-whirlish sometimes but I like to put them in some kind of order when I express them. I do like the way you shared from it, though, and gleaned some nuggets from it.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I definitely have those kind of mixed-up thoughts too. And often. But one reason I write is to straighten them up so they make sense, at least to me. Granted, I’m sure the author did tons of editing to get his words like he wanted them. But yeah, I prefer more structure too. 🙂

  3. floyd

    My mind tends to work in the same way, but for me, part of the discipline of sharing in words is being able to organize the thoughts in a structure. Some very popular Christian authors and political conservative authors with that same style, or the stop and start style trying to forge their fingerprint of prose, wear me out. I’ve sat closed more than one…

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      “trying to forge their fingerprint of prose”
      Nicely said. We all have different styles. Some we like; some we don’t. I’m not opposed to reading challenging ones, but I guess I have to be in the right mood or at least have a good reason to try. Maybe I’ll attempt this book in another season and who knows: maybe then I’ll love how it bounces around. 🙂

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