I don’t really think Camus’ work is at its best in short story form. Of these stories, only one really stuck with me (more on it later), but the majority washed by without leaving any great impression. Camus wrote wonderful novellas, but his stories are neither weighty or light enough and consequently seem to flop about, unsure and uncertain, and are dead without knowing it.
Which is a real shame for me, because I deeply love his novellas, and I consider his novel, The Plague, to be one of the greatest books ever written.
I will say this, though. One short story, The Artist at Work, was excellent. It deals with a promising young artist who finds success and then loses his talent and art to the humdrum expectations of life. It is a penetrating examination of the way in which an ordinary life can, without malice or intent, rob us of that which is most important. Even when we know what it is (and many don’t), it’s still possible to lose it as time grinds on and the phone continues ringing, emails pile up, children need to be fed and played with, and wives want to talk. And we want to respond to all of those things.
But the price is high.
The Books, Read page contains a list of all of the books I have read this year.