Obsessive, Intrusive, Magical Thinking is a spirited collection of appealingly honest essays by British writer, journalist and media star Marianne Eloise about her autism spectrum disorder and the anxiety, obsessions and intrusive thoughts that are inseparable features of her neurodivergent brain. While describing the added challenges of growing up in an unstable family environment, the physical pain resulting from her Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and the hormonal minefield that was puberty, Eloise cautiously celebrates the life she has designed for herself.
Obsessive, Intrusive, Magical Thinking, organized into three sections, offers fragmented vignettes and a nonlinear narrative style that reflects the author's overactive mind as it latches on to topics from "death to Medusa to folklore to magic to Disneyland to fire to my corporeal form." Although her obsessions led to social isolation in childhood, Eloise parlayed her "good obsessions" with film and music into a master's degree and a successful career that included traveling to Los Angeles, her dream city across the Atlantic. In the essay "Does the Dog Die?" Eloise describes in poignant detail how her dog, Bowie, taught her "to love, to relax," noting that the kinship she feels toward animals is stronger than toward humans. "Where some obsessions have destroyed me, others have sustained me," she explains; this includes her joyful fascination with Disneyland and her intense love of the ocean.
Disarming in its authenticity, Eloise's debut is the mark of a talented writer, claiming literary space for courageous neurodiverse voices like hers and sharing the pitfalls of her journey to ease the path for those who come after her. --Shahina Piyarali, reviewer