Jake, how did you find the Camus?
I just finished it, so I'm still processing this one (and if ever a novel needed processing), but it mostly blew me away. Though I am indeed not an extremist absurdist like Camus, the conveyance of the idealogy through a narrative was impeccable and
enthralling. At times, it's an arresting thriller; other times, it's a philosophical essay; others, it's a bone-dry and economical absurdist procedural. So many facets contained in this otherwise "novella" (122 pages, though I've only heard it referred to as a novel). It is quite bleak, but Camus is so immersive and, in some ways, convincing with his concepts that they almost recede to a subtle, axiomatic reality in the story.
I'm interested in reading some of his other work now, if not for just some of his short fiction. Do you recommend The Plague
Also what did you think of Smoke and Mirrors?
I was certainly skeptical initially, because, though genre is usually irrelevent to me, I didn't think I cared much for "fantasy." But I quickly fell in love with Gaiman's brand of magical realism and imagination. My favorite story was "The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories," which is a subdued, yet sprawling piece of metafiction about a British writer on his visit to L.A. to adapt his work to film. With Gaiman's proclivity for magic, the story shows great flashes of Muholland Drive
. Another that I'd like to mention is a story called "Murder Mysteries," also somewhat meta, which, to summarize it, is essentially a noir that takes place in Heaven. Gaiman pulls it off. However, a book with thirty works in it is bound to have it's highs and lows, and they unforunately ended up equalizing for me. Gaiman occasionally gets carried away in a few stories that are either impotently sexual, like "Foreign Parts", or inanely bizarre, as in "Snow, Glass, Apples." On a side note, Gaiman has also included an index of brief annotations about what inspired him for each and every individual work; I thought that was a nice mechanical touch. But, in conclusion, I can surely recommend it for those aforementioned stories.
Thanks for asking!