Obsessive, Intrusive, Magical Thinking: A Life Lived Obsessively

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Obsessive, Intrusive, Magical Thinking: A Life Lived Obsessively

Obsessive, Intrusive, Magical Thinking: A Life Lived Obsessively

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I felt recognised on every page, learned so many new things, and laughed so hard I choked on my water. I find it endlessly grating to read some iteration of “I had no money” when on the same page the author speaks of years spent jetting off to faraway places for months on end, living in Brighton and London, name-dropping celebrities she had breakfast with in LA, yada yada. Obsessive, Intrusive, Magical Thinking is a culmination of a life spend obsessing, offering a glimpse into Marianne’s brain, but also an insight into the lives of others like her. She covers topics like TV, film, digital culture, neurodiversity, wellness and alternative music, for outlets including The Cut, the New York Times, Courier, Vulture, i-D, Guardian and more.

Some interesting insights into the neurodivergent brain but mostly seemed to be anecdotes about going to Disneyland/California. Candidly laying bare her experiences of OCD, ADHD and autism, the book challenges the inconsequence of this “quirk”: obsessions puppet the author’s every move, for better or worse diverting the course of her life. I did struggle with whether or not I like the form, having never read an essay format memoir (as opposed to a chronological memoir). I liked the fact that she doesn't only explain how her OCD diagnosis (and her autism, but the essays focus more on the obsessive compulsive thoughts) affects her, she also shares her obsessions, lovingly writing about her favourite rides and her favourite parts of LA, her regular trips to California. It was well-written, it could have been more structured at times (it is biographical and I found some elements confusing at times, getting mixed up between boyfriends for example).It sounds more like she’s talking with oh-so-cool friends over drinks on one of the sun-soaked beaches she talks about.

Marianne Eloise, a freelance journalist, is a practitioner of this form by trade, and she has stuck to its features in her move from journalism to essayism.I FELT RECOGNISED ON EVERY PAGE, LEARNT SO MANY NEW THINGS, AND LAUGHED SO HARD I CHOKED ON MY WATER. I also felt that at times the essays felt somewhat disjointed when viewed as a whole - for instance, cultural references that showed up time and time again were sometimes reintroduced from scratch.

She then goes on to describe him as “a nice man” and wants you to believe he was some gentle, tortured soul trying to make a lovely sweet theme park full of rainbows and happiness because he was scared to die…yeah right, whatever. To invoke this term is to make as much a political argument as a personal one: it is to qualify what we mean when we say “mental health”. I liked how relatable the narrator was and the way OCD and Autism are discussed in a much broader sense than what we usually see in media. Part self-help book, part diary entry, the wellness genre demands neat resolutions and the elimination of excess – even for the most profoundly devastating and chaotic of health experiences. That said, I was surprised by how well she made such niche, personal, specific experiences feel relatable and general.

It was less comedic than 'Pure', the only other OCD-focused memoir I have read; but I really enjoyed the tone and the author's personality through her words. i feel so fortunate to have been able to read this ahead of its publication date next month; i've been a fan of marianne's work for a while and this feels like a brilliant expansion of events and moments i've seen her briefly allude to online over the years. Thank you to NetGalley, Marianne Eloise and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Obsessive, Intrusive, Magical Thinking is a non-fiction book about being neurodivergent and having OCD. That is the only way I can think to express my thoughts on this book, and I don't care to try writing this review again.

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