So, I have a new book out. It’s not for kids. At least it’s not for kids in the traditional Disney-Channel-no-inappropriate-material sense. There is plenty of inappropriate material, because it is a book about the world and, well, the world is typically inappropriate (and if you’ve ever watched footage of slugs mating, you know what I mean). The book is called Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl, and it is a collection of creative non-fiction essays and sketches arranged (structurally and thematically) around the seasons. And the seasons are just the different quartiles of space through which this freakishly tiny sphere of ours does its circular zipping.
In high school and then college and then graduate school, I never focused on the study of creative writing. I was far more interested in philosophy and the philosophy of religion. I always preferred yelling about the problem of evil to reading about the development of character and plot. I preferred catching snakes with my biologist uncle, and watching ants war over sidewalk cracks to discussions of “show don’t tell.”
I am a Christian, and the world around me was positively overflowing with literary and aesthetic theory–sunsets, tides, squirrels flattened in my street, etc. The world was my interest, not the study of particular mechanisms for communicating about the world. The Christian mythology (which I believe to be true) shaped everything that I saw, every wasp and caterpillar tale, every two thousand page work of Russian despair, every British comedy, every war, every love, every laugh. Every cycle of Winter and Spring, every pupating death, every exploding green resurrection.
I love stories, and this one–the one in which we all live–more than any other. I love reading stories, writing stories, and living stories. Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl is a prolonged sketch, a verbal attempt to paint the world I see; it reveals the vision that shapes my life and all the stories that I love to tell. It is a tribute to the work of a much greater Artist and a much greater Art. It is an acknowledgement that everything that I have written, and all that I have dreamed of writing, has been plagiarized.
I would be a thief, but I do not need to steal. The world has been given.