Friday, September 12, 2008

TLC Book Tour: Author Guest Post and Giveaway!

I'm so excited to host a guest post from Kathleen McCleary, author of House & Home, courtesy of TLC Book Tours.

I read the book back in July (review here) and dubbed its first page one of the best I've read in a long time.

Kathy suggested writing a post about obsession, one of the major themes of the book, and I readily accepted. I'm a classic first-child, Type-A personality, and, believe me, I do some obsessing over I thought it was a great fit for my blog.

I'll let her take it from here:

One of the more controversial aspects of my book for some readers has been the main character’s obsession with her house. Some find it puzzling and inexplicable; others instantly relate; many understand that Ellen’s real obsession is with her husband and children, and the house is just a poor stand-in for her passionate need to create—and protect—a loving, close-knit family.

While I’ve never been obsessed enough with anything to consider arson, I certainly relate to Ellen’s obsession. I loved my house in Portland deeply, and was truly heartbroken when I had to sell it and move. And I was, to be honest, a little obsessed. I dreamt about it for almost a year after leaving. My obsession turned into a novel. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that obsessions fuel many terrific books.

I’m in the middle of reading Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight right now. Clearly, Bella and Edward are mega-obsessed with each other. This year I’ve also read Anna Karenina (another major love obsession story), as well as Emily Giffin’s Love The One You’re With (old boyfriend obsession). Lisa See’s Snowflower and the Secret Fan, which I read with my book club, covers many obsessions, from the passion in 19th-century China for foot binding to the intensity of female friendship. In Geraldine Brooks’ People of the Book, an ancient manuscript is the obsession at the center of the novel. Even minor obsessions can make for memorable storylines or characters; witness Cornelia’s obsession for old movies in Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos.

It seems to me that the reason obsession lies at the heart of so many novels is because it is, by definition, about wanting something you can’t have. That desire—and the attempt to fulfill that desire—lies at the heart of the human condition.

Who has not longed for something— a house, a man, a child, a pair of shoes—that was just beyond reach? The people, places, and things we love and the ways we attempt to get or keep those loves is the stuff of great stories.

What’s your obsession? What’s your favorite book about obsession? Thanks so much for letting me share mine.

Guess what? Leave a comment in response to Kathy's question, and you'll automatically be entered for a giveaway of her book. You have until midnight CT on Monday, and I will post/contact the winner on Tuesday, September 16th.


Shana said...

I have many borderline obsessions: I must vacuum the floors in my house every night, I'm pretty obsessed with sticking to my running schedule, my husband and kids would probably say I'm obsessed with having my teeth be white :)

As far as books, I'm not thinking of any right now, though I definitely agree with Twilight and People of the Book.

Great post.

literarily AT live DOT com

Anna said...

I agree about the Twilight series for books involving obsession. As for my own obsessions...hmm...I have to keep my books in near perfect condition. I will never crack the spine, and I get annoyed if a corner gets folded!

--Diary of an Eccentric

Serena said...

Bella is absolutely obsessed with Edward and vice versa in the Twilight series.

I guess I would have to say I am obsessive about my stacks, whether they are stacks of books in the TBR pile or the stacks of writing and half-finished works lying in a pile. My husband gets his head bitten off if he touches those piles or attempts to move them without my knowledge. I always tell him when we are cleaning that he can just leave those piles where they lay and I will take care of them. These piles must remain in a particular order, which I guess relates to the fact that I keep losing post-its with scheduled items on them and orderly piles help me remember which books have the top priority or which written pieces must be finished first.

Anonymous said...

I almost wish I had an obsession. I was never a girl who got carried away with clothes or make-up or shoes. I want my house to look nice now (and wish I had an obsession about getting it to look just so), but I'm so confused about how to do that.

All I can think of is that I obsess over how much room my husband leaves between his car and the car in front of him. We get in a lot of fights over his tailgaiting.

Also, I used to like my magazines to stay in pristine condition -- no wrinkled or dog-eared pages. But that doesn't bother me anymore.

My favorite book about obsession is one I recently read: Dear American Airlines. It looks like the main character is obsessed with getting out of the airport as he writes a manuscript/complaint letter, but he's really obsessed over how he can't make his life work, especially when the very reason for his trip is to make good on a long-ago promise.

There is another book with a character who is obsessed with getting the perfect white shirt. The irony, of course, is that a white shirt is supposed to be a simple thing! It wasn't a chick lit book, even though that might make it sound like one. I wish I could remember the name of it. I think it was by a former Vogue editor/writer.

Anita Yancey said...

My obsession is books, I read all the time. I also collect the ones that I get signed by the authors. My husband is always saying don't you have enough books. And I say I can never have enough.

Anonymous said...

My current obsession is getting my weight under control. A recent book that inspired me in my obsession is Half-Assed: A Weight Loss Memoir by Jennete Fulda.

nnjmom at yahoo dot com

Carrie K said...

Its so fun following Kathy from blog to blog! I would love to read her book.

Im obsessed with paper. Paper with words on it, pretty paper for scrapbooking, notebook paper and journals for writing. Paper...just paper :)

Jill said...

Yikes...I neglected to mention my own! Here are five of my obsessions.

1. Bed/Blinds...Bed must be made, all blinds in the house must be open first thing in the morning...period.

2. Sink...The kitchen sink must always be empty/clean.

3. Plates/China...I love 'em, love 'em, can't get enough of 'em.

4. Reading material...I must always have a healthy stack of magazines and books. A dwindling supply makes me nervous.

5. My health...I'm constantly obsessing about things that could potentially be wrong with me.

(Note: According to my husband, this should be the first thing on my list. God bless him for putting up with me.)

Anonymous said...

My obsession is definitely books and all things having to do with them... book blogs, book journals, book mooching, etc.... My favorite book about obsession, right off the top of my head, would have to be Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible, roughly about a father's obsession with faith and his missionary work. Thanks for hosting such a wondreful giveaway!

Gwendolyn B. said...

I guess my most obvious obsession is books and reading. I always have to have several reading choices with me everywhere I go. Makes my purse pretty heavy! And really, do I need to bring a book to the grocery store? As for a book about obsession, the first one that comes to mind is LOLITA. Thanks for the chance to win HOUSE & HOME - I've heard lots of good things about it and have wanted to read it for a while.
geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

Tara said...

I would love to be in the drawing!