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Why Tilt the World?

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.


  1. at
    July 22, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    I read it some weeks ago and greatly enjoyed it. Since then I have been ruminating on it and recommending the hell out of it.

    Good work.

  2. at
    July 22, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    That sounds like an AWSOME book! *needs to get it from the library*

  3. at
    sd smith
    July 22, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Mine is on the way.

    To me. Not you. That would be weird.

  4. at
    Robert Treskillard
    July 23, 2009 at 8:22 am

    I just read Michael Hyatt’s blog where he praised your book so much, he was giving it away to prime the pump. It only took five hours to give 500 books away, wow! He had originally only meant to give away 100, but the demand was such…

    As a longtime reader of Credenda/Agenda, I’m just poppy that you’re message is getting out, Nathan!



  5. at
    Jesse Broussard
    July 27, 2009 at 12:28 am

    I’ve read it three times in two weeks, and still can’t make myself leave it at home.

  6. at
    Michelle Van Loon
    July 27, 2009 at 11:22 am
  7. at
    Brittany Petruzzi
    July 29, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Why did you have to remind me about the slugs???

  8. at
    July 31, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Your book was brilliant and beautiful. Thank you.
    Right after I finished Notes, I came across this Wendell Berry poem that sums up my favorite aspect of it.

    The incarnate Word is with us,
    is still speaking, is present
    always, yet leaves no sign
    but everything that is.

  9. at
    August 1, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    I really enjoyed the Tilt-a-Whirl. It felt like I was reading a very ADD Chesterton. Rarely has a nonfiction book left me feeling as full and satisfied. The way you dealt with the problem of evil was wonderful, and I hope that many theology students will read this book and be inspired to pick up some fiction and poetry along with their theology books in order to better understand the Creator of stories.

    By the way, I read your book at the same time I was reading Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. Well, not literally at the same time. But during the same week at least. Though Gaiman isn’t a Christian he understands on some level that the world is spoken and sung, and the two books went together like a nice wine and good cheese. Have you ever read his stuff?

  10. at
    August 4, 2009 at 10:44 am

    I’ve only read the first three chapters, and I’m already in love with this book! I’ll be sure to review it on my blog when I finish.

  11. at
    August 5, 2009 at 12:16 am
  12. at
    August 17, 2009 at 3:03 pm


    Because you obviously needed reminding.


    I’ve read a little Gaiman, but not a lot. What I have read makes me think that he’s both insightful and conflicted. Like Pratchett.

    The rest of you,

    Thanks for the friendliness. Cheers.


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    Wendy Sensing
    September 1, 2009 at 10:31 am

    I recently finished reading Tilt-a-Whirl and today I came across a quote and couldn’t help but think of you.

    “We hope that when the insects take over the world, they will remember with gratitude how we took them along on all our picnics.” ~Bill Vaughan

    Our family has loved all your books.

    Manifold Blessings,
    Wendy Sensing

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    Emily Woodham
    November 8, 2009 at 10:45 am

    I *finally* read Tilt-A-Whirl. I devoured it over the last three nights and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. On Monday it will have been a year since my mother’s body was planted into the ground. When my five year old thinks of her, he reminds everyone with, “On the Last Day, Jesus will blow away all the dirt and Meme will be alive again!”

    Your book was marvelous.

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    Ty Morrison
    November 24, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Tilt is awesome. A friend in virgina gave me a copy after listening to my bables. You nailed it. For us visual people, a description that makes sense. Please keep looking and writing.

  16. at
    December 4, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Hmmm… I’ll definitely be reading this when I get my hands on a copy… Matthew H. said he had a copy he could bring over Thanksgiving but I just noticed it never happened. That being said, you’re pretty right about things from what I’ve read; this is not a world we fully understand. And it’s glorious all the same.

    P.S. For your admin (you?), you might want to change your display name so Nate Wilson or N. Wilson or Wilson or N.D. Wilson or NDW or whatever moniker you prefer shows up in the comments instead of “admin”. See the Codex for help [], though it’s pretty easy.

  17. at
    Patrick Schreiner
    December 22, 2009 at 9:15 am

    I read your book and really enjoyed it. I wrote a review (although it looks like you already have a couple) I was going to send it to you before I published it to see if you thought it was fair but I can’t find your email. Thanks for your hard work.

    Patrick Schreiner

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Joyful Domesticity » Sunday December 20, 2009 on June 3, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    […] ~N.D. Wilson, from “Tilt-a-Whirl” […]

  2. By N. D. Wilson on Writing « For His Renown on June 14, 2010 at 10:28 am

    […] ¬†own description of it is much better than any I might attempt, and check out this interesting FAQ he did on the […]

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