I first heard about this book before I went to Sweden. My sister recommended it to me. She seems to know my interests well, so I listened to her and gave it a try. However, after reading a few pages of the book, I returned it to her. Wilson seemed a little too eccentric to me. And, at the time, I was in a phase where I wanted an honest memoir, with straight up introspective thoughts and stories.
"Tilt" isn't written like this, a little bit, but it's more like a poem. A very thought provoking, colorful poem. After getting home about a year later, I had some questions about God, and some pessimism towards life. This book approaches both, Wilson makes a compelling front to see and understand reality. Some of the themes of the book are: life, people, beauty, heaven, and hell. After I had started the book a second time around, I found myself enjoying it, and read to the end, including the special-thanks-to part.
The poetic style of writing in the book may take a while to adjust to, but after you do, it becomes addicting, and terribly amusing. It is one of the most engaging books I have read. Granted, you do need some imagination for his style, you must find some way to create your own stories through his writing. To create a film of sorts in your head. For example he talks about bugs a lot. At first I was really annoyed, "seriously, stop talking about ants, I stepped on one yesterday, you are making me feel guilty." But, after a while you start seeing the beauty, insight, and humor in his writing of bugs.
There is one part in particular where he gives a colony of ants human characteristics/comparisons, that of having a civilization, thoughts/dialogue, and fear. Somewhere during the reading you need to see the ants faces with human reactions, with human emotion and reaction. Once you can visualize that (and he usually helps out, through giving them dialogue or ideas), it becomes quite humorous. This type of reading may sound weird, but it is sort of like an animated film, with animals as the main characters. His writing does at times flow like a current of consciousness. To be honest, I like it. I feel as if I am having a conversation, and that sometimes I am asking him these brilliant questions, or creating these great illustrations that I personally cannot always find the words to, but Wilson does it for you, or rather, with you.
I have this habit when I read something insightful, or witty, to tag the bottom corner of the page. Most books I read have 10 or less. This book boasted 23. It spoke to me. Wilson digs deep and encounters our most important questions and themes. Ones that I think need to be addressed before you pick up the next novel, or watch the next blockbuster. I am not saying that this book is the one with all the answers, it isn't, but it provides a great start. Wilson makes you start to appreciate the small things (like bugs), and the big things (God and life). He also challenges you to address and question the difficulties of life, pain, death, silence, and work.
Here are a few sections from the book I enjoyed:
1. "When I lie on the ground, face down in the carpet, penitent with thankfulness for a life undeserved, for beauty and happiness unmerited, grateful for the stars and the starlings, for the grass and the leaves..."
(I am quick to realize and question suffering (see my last post), but rarely do I offer its rival the same reflective attitude. I will ask, "why this suffering, I didn't ask for this." But another question could be, "why this happiness, I didn't ask for this.")
2."The thing about Christians is that we usually want to pick one aspect of this world, one aspect of God's personality, and then stick with that."
3. "A daughter's face emerges from my chest, smiling beneath my chin.
`I cannot stay here forever,' she says simply, with her eyebrows high. She is wise.
I smile. `Why not?'
`Because I will grow. I will be too big and you will be old and sparkly.'
`Yes. And then you will die.'
I laugh. She remains serious.
`And then I will get old and sparkly and I will die, and my children will put me in the ground.' "
For me, this book wasn't perfect, but it was close. Some of his ideas are not completely original, but his way of presenting them are. In one or two parts of the book I didn't see the best logic, and some deep questions are left in the air. And, there were still points where I had to adjust to his style of writing. Part of me wishes he had talked about Jesus more too, but I understand that wasn't his direct intention for this book. Regardless, I thought this was an exceptionally well written book. And I would recommend it to almost anyone, hobbit and man alike.
My rating: 4 ½ (out of 5) scoops of Butter Pecan ice cream. Very satisfying. (And yes, I did just have a bowl of butter pecan ice cream a few minutes ago, however I think I had 6 scoops)