Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Notes on Notes

I'm going through N. D. Wilson's Notes From the Tilt-a-Whirl for the third time in less than two weeks. The prose owes a lot (as he fully confesses) to Dillard with a nice bit of Wodehouse, as well as sprinkling other, subtler flavors into the mix that has become entirely his own, gratefully indebted to the world, style. The book is very like his Credenda articles (including a couple), just a lot longer, which I like, as my chief complaint against any of his books is that the prose wasn't as inherently delightful as in his articles, and my chief complaint with his articles was that they ended so soon. So I'm happy for a couple weeks, until I start craving Chestnut King again.

Those of you that know me know how I read books: with pen in hand and a 3x5 card for a bookmark, taking down commonplaces, themes, weird phrases and arguments as I go. This book is infuriating: I didn't let myself mark it the first time, and then didn't let myself mark it the second time, and am now thinking maybe I should have restrained myself until the fourth or fifth or fiftieth time. I started a commonplace on page eleven, and didn't realize till chapter three that it should have ended somewhere. It is the best new (past 50 years) book that I have read in a long, long time, and has already taken its place next to Orthodoxy on my shelf. Simply magnificent.

Were I to classify it? Oddly enough, I would call it a world-class poetic apologetic.


Paul said...

I started reading it yesterday.

From what I've read so far, classification seems impossible without putting off all the people off who need to read it.

It's philosophy (there go 90% of the ideal audience), poetry (another 90% disappear) and authentically Christian (another 90% knocked off).

I got a review copy... and have no idea how I'm going to describe what it actually is, let alone review it.

J. A. Broussard said...

I know what you mean. But it is great.

Claire said...

Gee, I guess I don't know you. I can't remember ever seeing you read a book with a notecard. The concept is tempting, though.

J. A. Broussard said...

The notecard would either be in my hand, in the book, or on the table along with the usual fifty pens. Did you know (and you didn't) that in McDonald's yesterday I sat down and emptied my pens out of my pocket and had ten? I start every day with four. How did I end up with ten? Are they breeding? I'd always thought it would be cool to have a dog-breeding service (Dog and Madog: ushering in the apocalypse), but pens?

Claire said...

Very reminiscent of It's a Beautiful Life, where they try to breed dollar bills. For some reason, that's the only thing in that movie that stuck with me.

Claire said...
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Wodehousian Fun