The canon of literary obsession includes such odd classics as Geoff Dyer’s Out of Sheer Rage, in which the author fails to write the D. H. Lawrence biography he’s been planning all his life, producing instead a memoir about his failure to write that biography; and U and I, Nicholson Baker’s little comic masterpiece about his reverence for a still-living John Updike. Obsession adds a radioactive element to potentially boring genres: They become gloriously subjective, unstable, irresponsible, and creative. It’s exponential literature: textuality multiplied by itself. It was with great pleasure, thttp://www.typepad.com/site/blogs/6a00d8341c562c53ef00d83451b72569e2/page/composehen, that I read Elizabeth Hawes’s brand-new entry in the genre, Camus, a Romance. I have never personally been obsessed with Albert Camus—I always leaned toward Dostoyevsky—but I can see the attraction. In many ways he’s the perfect literary crush. He was the most glamorous exponent of the twentieth century’s most glamorously nebulous intellectual movement, existentialism. He looked like Humphrey Bogart, suffered nobly all his life from TB, and died young in a car accident shortly after winning the Nobel Prize. He was a batch of contradictions: an artistic philosopher, a private political figure, a celebrity recluse, and a moralistic philanderer. He was doubly exotic—not only French but Algerian. And he’s still many Americans’ gateway to serious European literature—everyone has their mind at least a little bit blown, in high school, by The Stranger.

more from Sam Anderson at New York Magazine here.