Saturday, September 19, 2009

Five best: books about obsession

Susan Cheever's books include five novels and the memoirs Note Found in a Bottle and Home Before Dark. Her work has been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the Boston Globe Winship Medal. She applied the "page 69 test" to her 2006 book, American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau: Their Lives, Their Loves, Their Work.

In 2008's Desire: Where Sex Meets Addiction, she "explores the shifting boundaries between the feelings of passion and addiction, desire and need, and she raises provocative and important questions about who we love and why."

One of her five best books about obsession:
Wuthering Heights
by Emily Brontë

Obsession is a mischief maker, and its most common disguise is what romantics call true love. Emily Brontë's "Wuthering Heights" is probably the bleakest, most intense novel about obsessive love ever written—Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, thrown into relief by the tale's setting on the desolate Yorkshire moors, have practically become synonymous with tempestuous passion. The two had seemed destined to be together since childhood, but then Catherine, despite her obsession, marries someone else, and Heathcliff's fury is unleashed. The mutual fixation ruins their own lives and the lives of those around them. "If all else perished and he remained, I should still continue to be," Catherine says, "and if all else remained and he were annihilated the universe would turn to a mighty stranger."
Read about the other four titles on Cheever's list.

Wuthering Heights
appears on Valerie Martin's list of novels about doomed marriages.

The Page 99 Test: Wuthering Heights.

Visit Susan Cheever's official website and read the Page 69 Test results for American Bloomsbury.

--Marshal Zeringue