My Dark Obsession

I finished it again this weekend. I’ve read it twice in the last ten days. I’ve listened to it two more times on audio tape as I drive to and from work.

I even checked out critical essays about it from the library—something I vowed never to do again after I graduated from college—and started to read them. That’s how I knew I was sick.

I’m talking about a book called “The Great Gatsby.” I’m not entirely sure why this book has taken over my life, but I have some theories. I ask myself, why now? I read it in high school and once about a year and a half ago because it played a part in a story I was writing, but in neither of those instances did it really take hold of me.

Sometimes I think a moment in your life reacts to a work of art like pure oxygen to an open flame. Eighteen months ago is a short time back, but I didn’t identify with either Jay Gatsby or Nick Carraway quite like I do now. Something must have changed. It’s as if I had to grow into appreciating what Fitzgerald was trying to say about the past, the future, and the vain dreams that lie in between.

So, I ask you, what works of art, be they books, films, or songs have obsessed you? And at what time in your life? And why?

Can’t think of anything? Try reading “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald; this April marks eighty years since it was first published. The first review in The New York World called it “A dud.”

Uh, they were wrong.

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6 thoughts on “My Dark Obsession

  1. Once I saw this play called “Macbeth” over and over again. I really don’t know why, but I just kept going back every night.

  2. I have an obsessive personality, and I mostly obsess over music. I often get stuck on one song and will play it on repeat for an hour at a time. Biggest musical obsession lately has been Ted Leo. I don’t know what it is about him, but if you listen to him enough his songs bore into your brain and won’t let you go.

    When I was a teen on vacation with my family we drove from Seattle to LA, and I only had one book with me to read–The Outsiders by SE Hinton. I read that thing over and over again and never got sick of it.

    I did the same with the first album I ever bought, U2’s WAR.

  3. Rosalynde, I had the same experience at one point. I saw several different versions of Macbeth … I think during one particular year even. I finally decided that if I had to choose between the comedies and the tragedies (of Shakespeare) I would pick the tragedies.

    Perhaps I was biased by the fact that the first Shakespeare play I ever saw was Titus Andronicus. I couldn’t believe how violent and vicious that story was.

  4. Odd how many of my “dark obsessions” of the past have become movies in recent years. Lord of the Rings, X-Men and now the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is coming out as a movie. If my wife comes to appreciate HGTTG anywhere near as much as I do, I’ll be grateful to cinema forever. That will then be three for three. Of course there’s always the chance I won’t like the movie … (crossing fingers)

  5. I’m obsessed with:

    1. The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov
    2. The Kafka short story “Ein Landarzt” (“A Country Doctor”)
    3. The song Ceremony by Joy Division and New Order

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